On Thursday, 8th November 2018, the Sustainable Development and Environment Division within the Department of Sustainable Development held a workshop at which the final national results of Saint Lucia’s Minamata Initial Assessment (MIA) was presented.
So what exactly is this Minamata initiative about? Well, let’s begin by finding out how it all started. Over the years, scientists around the globe conducted research and found out that excessive exposure to mercury has harmful effects on the environment and human health. High levels of mercury in the human body can produce harmful effects on the nervous, digestive and immune systems, lungs and kidneys, and can even be fatal. Having recognised these effects and knowing that mercury is everywhere in our planet, countries around the world have agreed to work together to address this environmental and health concern.
So there you have it, the Minamata Convention on Mercury was born! This convention according to the Minamata Convention Website is “a global treaty to protect human health and the environment from the adverse effects of mercury”. It promises to put measures in place to control the release of mercury from everyday object throughout its life cycle. As the conservationist say nowadays “from the cradle to the grave”.
Wait, did we just say that mercury is found in everyday objects? That’s right! Mercury is found in everyday objects that we use. So believe it or not, mercury can affect your health if you don’t do something about it.
Fortunately for us, the Sustainable Development and Environment Division (SDED) has started Saint Lucia’s journey to becoming Mercury-free by starting the process for Saint Lucia’s ratification and implementation of the Minamata Convention. This process began with the conducting of a Minamata Initial Assessment with financial assistance from the Global Environment Facility. This assessment is just the beginning! SDED promises to help us reduce our exposure to Mercury by working on a Roadmap towards the phase-out of Mercury in Saint Lucia.
But guess what, SDED cannot phase-out mercury from Saint Lucia without Civil Society’s assistance. If you are sick, the doctor can prescribe medications for your illness but cannot force you to drink it. What’s the point? SDED can take measures to reduce your exposure to mercury, but your degree of exposure also has a lot to do with your habits.
All this talk about mercury being everywhere and its effects on human health, we still haven’t said where mercury is found, how it enters the human body, how it affects human health! Guess what, there is so much to talk about as far as mercury is concerned that we have to leave that for another discussion. So keep checking out our website for updates and you will be sure to find out more about Mercury and how it affects you in the coming weeks.