Dominica is contributing to a regional management strategy to assess the impact of mercury releases and phase out its use by 2020.
The management strategy, which takes the form of a project, is being done by the Basel Convention Regional Centre for Training and Technology Transfer for the Caribbean Region and forms part of the Minamata Convention on Mercury.
The Convention, which came into force on 16 August 2017, is a multilateral environmental agreement which aims to protect human health and the environment from negative effects of mercury.
Mercury is a naturally occurring element which may be released to the air, water and land via natural processes or human activity.
It is known to have adverse effects to human health such as central nervous system, thyroid, kidney, lung, immune system, eye, gum and skin and is considered a major public health concern by the World Health Organization.
Although Dominica is not yet a signatory to the Convention, a National Inception Meeting was held here on 18 May 2018 with a view to familiarize stakeholders with the Minamata Initial Assessment Project and explain the data requirements of stakeholders and briefly explain the Mercury Invention Toolkit.
It served a follow up to the Regional Inception Workshop and Mercury Training conducted in Antigua in March of this year and was aimed at assessing the national impact of mercury releases.
“The purpose of this project is to help inform the countries of the mercury situation; we’re going to do that through having a desktop study on mercury inventory,” Project Execution Officer of the Basel Convention Regional Centre for Training and Technology Transfer for the Caribbean Region, Tahlia Ali Shah said during the meeting held at the Garraway Hotel in Dominica on 18 May 2018.
Executive Director of the Dominica Bureau of Standards, Dr. Steve John stated that while Dominica does not have an industry that uses mercury, a lot of imported goods contain the substance.
“Some of us know in the dental services we use mercury, in the fluorescent lamps we use mercury, and in a number of other products that come into this country where we have mercury in them,” Dr. John explained.
Sapphire Vital has been engaged as national project coordinator for inventory in Dominica and will work with the assessment of inventory.
The Minamata Initial Assessment Project is aimed at facilitating the ratification and early implementation of the Minamata Convention on mercury by providing key national stakeholders in participating countries with the scientific and technical knowledge and tools needed for that purpose.
Dominica will therefore benefit from new and updated information about the national mercury situation and from increased capacity in managing risks of mercury.