This article deals with ‘Mercury Poisoning – UPSC.’ This is part of our series on ‘Environment’, which is an important pillar of the GS-3 syllabus. For more articles on Science and technology, you can click here.
Mercury concentrates as highly toxic Methyl Mercury in the bodies of fish.
- The disease was searched in Japan’s seaside town of Minamata.
- Strange behaviour was seen in cats, birds & also in humans. The investigation found that petrochemical companies had been discharging mercury waste into the sea.
- Around 5,000 people were killed & 50,000 were poisoned to some extent by Mercury.
Humans have controlled the Minamata disease and the use of Mercury to a large extent. But such cases are sporadically noticed in
- Mercury Mining, mainly in China
- Central Asian nations like Kyrgyzstan
- In India
- Kodaikanal (Tamil Nadu): The thermometer factory was dumping waste (the factory was of Ponds and later acquired by Hindustan Unilever in 1987 )
- Singrauli Region in Uttar Pradesh
- Ganjam in Odisha
Applications of Mercury
Side Topic: Diseases from Metal Poisoning
|Nitrate||Blue Baby Syndrome|
|Water with little or no fluoride||Cavity in teeth|
|Arsenic||Black Foot Disease (disfigures the skin, impacts kidney and, heart & lung fatalities.|
Minamata Convention on Mercury
- Minamata Convention aims to control the use of Mercury.
- The convention was signed in Kumamoto (Japan) in 2013 and ratified by India in 2014.
- Minamata Convention is part of the cluster of agreements, including
- Basel Convention to control transboundary movement of hazardous wastes
- Rotterdam Convention to manage international trade of hazardous chemicals and pesticides
- Stockholm Convention to restrict and eliminate persistent organic pollutants.
What does India have to do?
- India will have to establish and enforce mercury emission standards for coal-fired power plants(and coal mining).
- The Chlor-alkali industry has to use mercury-free technologies.
- Replace CFLs with LED.