Government will in 2020 ban the production, importation and exportation of products containing mercury, Madam Salamatu Abdul-Salam, Chief Director at the Ministry of Environment, Science and Technology and Innovation has said.
She noted that by 2020, there should be no mercury devices in the country and that healthcare facility and schools should start phasing it out.
The move will protect human health and the environment from the adverse effects of mercury which is currently being used in lighting soaps and cosmetics, and many healthcare products including clinical thermometers, and blood pressure monitors.
This would be in accordance with the Minamota Convention on Mercury, which Ghana signed in 2014 and was ratified by Parliament in October 2016.
The objective of the Convention is to protect the human health and the environment from anthropogenic emissions and releases of mercury.
Madam Abdul-Salam made the announcement during a National Stakeholders’ Inception Workshop for the development of Minamota Initial Assessment and National Action Plan for Artisanal and Small Scale Gold Mining.
The workshop was to raise awareness of policy makers on mercury menace and its environmental and health concerns and the need for national action.
She said the country was flooded with products which contained serious mercury elements which were dangerous to the health of the citizenry.
Madam Abdul-Salam said products which contain mercury such as switches and relays, batteries, certain types of compact fluorescent lamps, pesticides, thermometers, and blood pressure devices were to be banned from the country.
She said to facilitate the early implementation of the Convention, each country was expected to undertake an initial assessment to collect information that would assist in its decision to develop a national implementation plan and prepare a national plan to reduce emissions of mercury.
She said the Ministry recognized the need to establish the relevant regulatory framework and structures to combat the threat posed by mercury.
“The Ministry with stakeholders are well committed to the full implementation of the provisions of the Convention to ensure a safe and sound environment for future generations,’’ she added.
Mr Louis Kuupen, Assistant Country Director of United Nations Development Planning (UNDP), commended government for ratifying the Convention, saying the use of mercury in today’s society was very high and that all were at risks to the threats its posed to human health and environment.
Mr Kuupen said the Global Environmental Facility was providing funding support to the country to conduct a nationwide assessment on the use and sources of mercury and assess institutional gaps and needs required to mainstream the Convention.
He said the UNDP was committed to the promotion of environmental sustainability and guided by the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement on climate change.