Main Sources of Mercury Pollution in Armenia

Main Sources of Mercury Pollution in Armenia


The main sources of mercury pollution in Armenia are as follows: mining, thermal power plants operating with coal, production of light bulbs and cement production, as Emma Anakhasyan and Qnarik Grigoryan, doctor experts from “Armenian Women for Health and Healthy Environment” NGO said at the press conference held at EcoLur Press Club on 15 August. Mercury is a persistent pollutant, the people poisoned with mercury will have brain and neurological injuries and health problems.

Besides these sources of mercury pollution, the Armenian specialists had also discovered that certain dental clinics had also been contaminated with mercury, while the most polluted area was YSU basement, when once mercury had been spilt on the staircase. Mercury has been detected in children’s hair in regions and toys, as well as some cosmetics. Read about mercury pollution and other problems connected with mercury pollution and whether Armenia will join the Minimata Mercury Convention in the digest prepared by EcoLur.

Armenian NGO: Mercury found in toys

Armenian NGO said mercury had been found in children’s toys. According to the research conducted by Armenian Women for Health and Healthy Environment NGO, mercury was discovered in nine Chinese-produced and one Armenian toy. Mercury was also found in cosmetics imported from Europe, including children’s lipstick.

Although the concentrations of mercury in Armenia are not exceeding TLV level, the risk remains because mercury tends to accumulate in the body.

“In humans and animals, mercury is transformed into methylmercury which is more dangerous than the metal. Mining industry is another risk factor,” NGO member Knarik Grigoryan told reporters.

The first mass mercury poisoning occurred in 1956 in the Japanese city of Minamata. It was caused by the release of methylmercury in the industrial wastewater. People were poisoned by eating fish products.

“The UN adopted the Minamata Convention on Mercury in 2013. Its purpose is to remove the hazardous effects of mercury on the human body. Armenia has not joined the Convention, but we hope, it will do so,” she added.

Physicians Raise Mercury Pollution Alarm in Armenia

Narek Aleksanyan, Hetq

At a Yerevan press conference today, specialists from the “Armenian Women for Health and a Healthy Environment” raised the alarm about mercury pollution in Armenia and the need to take immediate steps to avert possible future health calamities associated with heavy metals.

Physicians Knarik Grigoryan and Emma Anakhasyan expressed the hope that Armenia would sign the Minamata Convention on Mercury come this October.

The Minamata Convention on Mercury is a legally binding instrument to protect the human health and the environment from anthropogenic emissions and releases of mercury and mercury compounds.

The speakers refereed to what is called “Minamata Disease”, a neurological syndrome caused by severe mercury poisoning.

Minamata disease was first discovered in Minamata city, Japan, in 1956. It was caused by the release of methyl mercury in the industrial wastewater from the Chisso Corporation's chemical factory, which continued from 1932 to 1968. This highly toxic chemical bio-accumulated in shellfish and fish in Minamata Bay and the Shiranui Sea, which, when eaten by the local populace, resulted in mercury poisoning.

While cat, dog, pig, and human deaths continued for 36 years, the government and company did little to prevent the pollution. The animal effects were severe enough in cats that they came to be called "dancing cat fever.

As of March 2001, 2,265 victims had been officially recognized (1,784 of who had died) and over 10,000 had received financial compensation from Chisso.

14:27 August 22, 2013


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