Development of Minamata Initial Assessment (MIA) for Ghana
Mercury is a naturally-occurring chemical element found in rock in the earth's crust and also in coal deposits. Its use is dominant in the mining sector, industries, health sector and in households. In many countries, elemental mercury is used in artisanal and small-scale gold mining where mercury is mixed with gold-containing materials, forming a mercury-gold amalgam that, after heating and vaporizing, creates gold. In the health sector, mercury is commonly found in thermometers, blood pressure gauges, dental amalgam and through waste incineration. In households, mercury is found in fluorescent lights bulbs, lamps, batteries, phones, car switches, cosmetics and jewelleries, among others. In Ghana, mercury is used mainly in the mining sector, and in health facilities, industries, educational and research institutions, and in households.
All humans are exposed to some level of mercury. Whilst most people are exposed to low levels of it; others are exposed to high levels often over a short period of time and mostly in less than a day, especially through industrial accidents. Mercury exposure could be very harmful to humans as it has toxic effects on the nervous, digestive and immune systems as well as the lungs, eyes, skin and kidneys of persons affected.
Recognizing the need to eradicate mercury use to protect human health and the environment, the Minamata Convention was introduced in October 2013 to pursue a global mercury phase-out agenda. Realising the grave threats mercury poses to the human health and the global environment, Ghana ratified the Minamata Convention in March 2017, and shall take steps to phase out mercury use in the country when the convention comes into force in August 2017.
In order to phase out mercury use and also support Ghana’s preparation to implement the Minamata Convention, the Global Environment Facility (GEF) has provided funding through UNDP to undertake a Minamata Initial Assessment. The objective is to enable the Government of Ghana establish a sound foundation to undertake future work towards the implementation of the Convention. Specifically, the project will seek to achieve the following objectives:
● undertake a detailed Minamata Convention Initial Assessment on stocks, import and export, storage conditions; supply of mercury, including sources and quantities; sectors that use mercury and the amount per year, and the trade in mercury and mercury containing compounds;
● identify national emission sources and releases of mercury;
● review and assess legislation and policies related to the implementation of the provisions of the Convention;
● assess institutional and capacity needs to implement the Convention;
● raise awareness on the adverse impacts of mercury and the need to support the global phasing-out agenda;
● mainstream the provisions of the Convention in national development plans.
Accomplishments – progress and key achievements (as of 30 June 2017)
Seven national officers from Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) and Ghana Atomic Energy Commission (GAEC) have been given training by UNITAR on the UNEP Mercury Inventory Toolkit, to equip them with the requisite skills and tools to conduct the national mercury inventory.
$200,000 from the Global Environment Facility (GEF)