On 2 December 2020, the EPA, the Ministry of Health and Welfare (MHW), the Council of Agriculture (COA), and the Ministry of Labor (MOL) jointly held a conference to present the achievements of cross-ministerial collaboration in implementing the Minamata Convention on Mercury. During the conference, experts, scholars, representatives of businesses and non-governmental organizations (NGO) gathered together to share their experiences in mercury pollution control and exchange information.
High levels of mercury, commonly known as quicksilver, can cause damage to the brain, the nervous system and organs. To protect human health and the environment from the adverse effects of mercury, the Minamata Convention on Mercury was developed by the United Nations and entered into force on 16 August 2017. Before the convention took effect, the EPA had already started to carry out the cross-ministerial Implementation Plan for the Minamata Convention on Mercury, which was passed by the Executive Yuan on 27 June 2016 to reduce the mercury levels in the environment.
According to the convention, the control for the following nine mercury-containing products is to be tightened as of 1 January 2021. They include certain types of batteries, switches, relays, compact fluorescent lamps, fluorescent tube lamps, high-pressure mercury lamps, digital fluorescent lamps, cosmetics, insecticides/fungicides/antibacterial agents, and non-electronic measuring instruments. With the joint effort of several government agencies, relevant regulations have been amended accordingly to ban the manufacturing and import of these nine products starting from 1 January 2021, which is in line with the stipulation of the convention.
The cross-ministerial conference started with the EPA introducing the Implementation Plan for the Minamata Convention on Mercury. It was then followed by the MHW, the COA and the MOL sharing their respective management experiences on topics of public concern. The topics included dental amalgams and mercury in Chinese medicines, mercury management and testing in agriculture, and occupational safety and mercury management in the workplace. Lastly, the EPA gave a report on the implementation progress regarding reduction of mercury-containing products, remediation of soil and groundwater pollution control sites, reduction of stationary source emissions, environmental monitoring, development of testing methods, and effluent and water body management.
The EPA stated that part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which is created by the UN in 2015, is to assess global trends in chemical management. Taiwan has made early progress from implementing the Minamata Convention on Mercury, and the EPA will continue collaborating with other government agencies, businesses, academia and research institutes to strengthen chemical safety. For more information, please check the EPAs website: https://topic.epa.gov.tw/hg/mp-3.html.
Excerpt from Important Environmental Policies, Dec 2020
- Environmental Protection Administration, R.O.C.(Taiwan)