The Zambia Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA) says Zambia remains committed to ensuring that viable solutions are found to addressing mercury use and emissions in key economic activities.

ZEMA Corporate Affairs Manager Ireen Lungu Chipili said in a statement that Zambia, after​ signing the Convention on Mercury in 2013 and ratifying it in 2016 has implemented a number of programmes to address environmental concerns arising from mercury exposure and use.

And Chipili said in an interview that one of the measures carried out by ZEMA is to review legislation that has a bearing on mercury use and exposure.

“One of the things we have identified is that there is limited or no information about mercury. We’re doing sensitisation on mercury. We’re also working with, sectors where people are measuring mercury to try and improve their technology and infrastructure to reduce exposure to mercury. Some of the sources of mercury emission in Zambia are from the mining sector, from metal production. We also have mercury from waste incineration which could be open burning of waste, waste disposal and illegal disposal of waste in general. We also have a small percentage of mercury from the dental amalgam, you know the dental fillings – there is also mercury in some of the old technology,” said Lungu.

“The Global Environment Facility (GEF) is leading the international community in celebrating the 50th Ratification of the Minamata Convention on Mercury which was deposited on 18th May, 2017 at the United Nations Headquarters. The Convention, which has now been signed by 128 countries, will come into force in 90 days on 16th August, 2017. Government is therefore delighted with this milestone which has been attained by the global community and is particularly pleased that the GEF will continue supporting a wide range of activities including inventories, implementation plans and investments in technology for reduction and elimination of mercury.”

Mercury is one of the most toxic chemicals that threaten both the environment and human health. As a result of its transboundary nature, when released into the environment, it can be transported in the atmosphere across nations and continents and can contaminate food, water and air.