22 Jun 2010

WHO called on to survey Pacific Islanders mercury levels

6:49 pm on 22 June 2010

Pacific Island delegates to UN talks on mercury control are calling on the World Health Organisation to survey the mercury levels of Pacific Islanders.

A Cook Islands environmentalist Imogen Ingram has just returned from the talks which were aimed at a global mercury control treaty by 2013.

She says fish-eating communities are more at risk from the toxic heavy metal which can cause neurological problems, but no one knows the extent of the problem in the Pacific.

"It's odourless, colourless, insidious poison that people may not yet be aware of. The EU's just passed legislation which will ensure the safety of its citizens. We in the developing countries have to look to the safety of our citizens."

Imogen Ingram says island states want the treaty to recognise particular problems they have like dealing with mercury-laden electronic waste.