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India Decided to Sign Minamata Convention
Oct 07, 2014

Mercury is considered highly toxic but used extensively in healthcare products, lighting and for religious purposes. Now it will be phased out in India in the next six to 10 years. In its first major pro-environment move, the government has decided to sign the Minamata Convention, a global treaty to protect human health and the environment from the adverse effects of mercury.

Mercury, also known as quick silver, has some 3,000 industrial applications in India and can be found in thermometers and other healthcare products, paints, cosmetics, compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), electrical switches and fertilisers. The country produces 10-15 million clinical instruments every year on average, including clinical and lab thermometers as well as blood pressure monitors. Mercury is also used in traditional Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine. 

The Minamata Convention is named after the site of an industrial disaster in Japan in the 1950s, where mercury poured into a river poisoned thousands—calls for reducing mercury emissions from coal-fired thermal power plants, the source of 65 percent of India’s power generation. It also seeks to reduce mercury content in CFLs to 5 milligrams from the present 15.

When India signs the treaty, which provides financial incentives to the developing world to phase out mercury, it will join a club of over 100 countries to do so.

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