In our last blog post about mercury, we discussed the Minamata Convention and the efforts of the Sustainable Development and Environment Division (SDED) to get Saint Lucia on the road to phasing out toxic mercury. Don’t worry, if you missed the last post you can access it via the link below this post.
At the end of the previous post we promised to share with you more information about how mercury affects human health and we know you are dying to know. But some of our curious readers are thirsting for more information on the findings of the Minamata Initial Assessment that we mentioned in the previous post. This request is a very valid one though.
Picture it this way, imagine your doctor told you that you are allergic to a particular substance which can be found in several objects around your home and unless you get rid of them you will continue getting sick. How would you deal with this situation? The first thing most persons would do is find out what objects contain this substance and then do an inventory of the objects in their home which would then give them a better idea of what to look for and where to look. And of course, there are few persons who might just clear out the whole house to save themselves all this research. But let’s not go there!
Now let’s compare this scenario to what this blog post is supposed to be about. In this instance, the Mercury would be the substance that you’re allergic to and the house would be our island home, Saint Lucia. The Minamata Initial Assessment (MIA) in simple terms sought to identify the primary sources of toxic mercury emissions and releases in Saint Lucia. But the MIA went even further, it included a review of institutional and capacity needs for meeting the requirements of the Minamata Convention as well as an assessment of national regulations, policies and legislation to assist with preparation for compliance with the obligations of the convention. Simply put, the MIA assessed what Saint Lucia needs to do to phase out mercury and what systems Saint Lucia has in place to ensure that the needs are met so that Saint Lucia can successfully phase out toxic mercury.
What are the findings?
Now that we know why the MIA was so important, let’s discuss what came out of this. After all, the Global Environment Facility invested money for the MIA to be done!
According to the summary presented by SDED, the total calculated mercury input to society in Saint Lucia is ≈75 kg Hg/yr. ‘Based on the MIA findings, the use and disposal of mercury-containing products/process uses such as dental amalgam fillings, laboratory chemicals and equipment, and manometers and gauges is a major source of mercury releases to the environment, representing approximately 37% of total mercury releases’. The major anthropogenic sources of mercury in Saint Lucia include the following:
- Use and disposal of products/process uses such as dental amalgam fillings,
laboratory chemicals and equipment and other medical devices (≈28 kg Hg/yr)
Use and disposal of mercury-added products such as thermometers,
electrical switches and relays, batteries and lighting devices (≈25 kg Hg/yr)
- Waste deposition/landfilling and wastewater treatment (≈36 kg Hg/yr)
The summary also states that mercury loads may be impacting Saint Lucia’s local marine fisheries. Did we just say mercury in fish? But fish is supposed to be a healthier source of animal protein, well so they say. This takes us right into the discussion point for our next mercury blog post, i.e. how are people exposed to mercury and what does mercury have to do with fish.
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