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Treaty against mercury pollution to enter force Aug. 16

Kyodo

An international anti-mercury pollution treaty will now go into force on Aug. 16 as the necessary number of countries have approved it, the secretariat of the pact said Thursday.

Romania has joined the Minamata Convention on Mercury, becoming the 50th country to do so and enabling the treaty to clear the threshold for entry into force in 90 days. The first conference of signatory states will be held in Geneva on Sept. 24-29.

The convention, which describes mercury as “a chemical of global concern,” aims to cut emissions and releases of mercury into the air, water and land, and to establish protocols for mercury storage and disposal.

It would also regulate exports of the chemical and seek to ban by 2020 the manufacture, import or export of mercury-added products such as thermometers and batteries.

The convention, adopted at a 2013 U.N.-led conference in Kumamoto Prefecture, takes its name from the prefectural city of Minamata where industrial emissions of mercury caused a poisoning disease affecting thousands of people.