DENR receives mercury sampler from Government of Taiwan In support of efforts to strengthen mercury monitoring in the Philippines, the Department of Environment and   Natural   Resources   (DENR) –Environmental   Management   Bureau(EMB)receives   from   the Government   of   Taiwan   through   the   Taiwan   Environmental  Protection   Administration,   a mercury deposition sampler to  improve  information  in  the  management  of  environmental  concerns  involving mercury.

Present during the turnover ceremony are DENR  Undersecretary  for  Policy,  Planning  and  International Affairs, Atty. Jonas R. Leones; the Deputy Representative of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in the Philippines, Minister  James  Chu;  Manila  Economic  and  Cultural  Office  Vice  Chairman,  Atty.  Gilberto Lauengco and DENR – EMB Asst. Director, Engr. Visminda A. Osorio.

DENR Undersecretary Leones said that the addition of a mercury sampler for collection of wet deposition samples to DENR’s monitoring capabilities will strengthen the gathering of mercury information in the country. “The information that we will gather from this joint venture will definitely improve the coordination of monitoring activities in the country and expand regional capabilities for assessing atmospheric mercury transport and deposition which is a critical component of the global mercury cycle,” Leones said.

Leones added that the results  of  the  mercury  monitoring  in  the  Philippines  will  form  part  of  the  Asia-Pacific monitoring network that aims to generate data consistent with monitoring-related provisions of the Minamata Convention that will be useful in evaluating the effectiveness of pollution control strategies for mercury.

The Philippines in 2013, signed the historic Minamata Convention during the United Nations Conference on Mercury in Kumamoto, Japan.

The  Minamata  Convention is  a  globally  binding  instrument  that  prescribes  the  regulation  of  Mercury among Member States. The Convention also enjoins Parties to identify sources, uses and applications of Mercury, including unintended releases to the environment and develop Action Plans for the reduction of use and eventual phase out of Mercury.

The convention is named after Minamata Bay, which was contaminated by methyl mercury discharged from a local chemical factory. The disaster, which affected thousands of human lives was the first large – scale  incident  of  methyl  mercury  poisoning. Minamata drew the world’s attention to the devastating effects of mercury, a powerful neurotoxicant now known to be particularly dangerous to unborn babies, infants, and young children.

In 1997, the Department has issued Administrative Order 38, or the Chemical Control Order for Mercury and Mercury Compounds, in compliance with Republic Act 6969, or the Toxic Substances and Hazardous and Nuclear Wastes Control Act of 1990. The said Chemical Control Order aims to establish limitations of the  use  of  mercury  and  mercury  containing  substances,  control  and  regulate  the  disposal  of  mercury contaminated wastes, and reduce the hazards to environment and health caused by the exposure to and handling of mercury.

Mercury compounds are also included in the Philippine Priority Chemical List, issued by the DENR, through the EMB.  The  PCL  is  a  list  of  existing  and  new  chemicals  that  were  determined  to  potentially  pose unreasonable risk to public health and safety, and of course, the environment.

The  DENR  has  also  banned mercury  use  in  mineral  processing  in  the  small-scale  mining  industry,  an implementation of Executive Order No.79 which President Benigno Aquino III signed in July 2012.