February 21, 2009

Proposed treaty to reduce mercury use

A proposed treaty to be negotiated by more than 140 countries will focus on measures to reduce the use of mercury worldwide, a U.S. official says.

Nancy Sutley, head of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, said in a statement that the proposed treaty will be created in such a way that signing countries will be legally bound to limit the use of the toxic metal, The Washington Post reported Saturday.

The United States will play a leading role in working with other nations to craft a global, legally binding agreement that will prevent the spread of mercury into the environment and improve the health of workers, pregnant women and children throughout the world, Sutley said.

Achim Steiner, U.N. Environmental Program executive director, praised environment ministers for taking action against the toxin suspected of hindering brain development in children.

Today, the world's environment ministers, armed with the full facts and full choices, decided the time for talking was over -- the time for action on this pollution is now, Steiner said of Friday's treaty announcement.