Chemical

Mercury is a heavy metal that occurs naturally but can also be released into air, water and soil through anthropogenic activities such as mining, metal and cement production, and combustion of fossil fuels. It is used in electronic and measuring devices, cosmetics, lamps, batteries, and in several industrial processes.

Mercury is highly toxic and persistent in the environment. It can be transported in the atmosphere great distances, and can enter the food chain and accumulate in flora and fauna such as fish, terrestrial and marine mammals, and even, rice. Under certain conditions in the environment, mercury can be converted to the even more toxic compound methlylmercury, commonly found in fish and aquatic environments. Humans are exposed to methylmercury by eating fish, shellfish, and marine mammals that are contaminated with the toxin. Once methylmercury enters the human body, it accumulates in tissues and can be transferred to foetuses.

This course introduces you to the Minamata Convention on Mercury, which seeks to protect the human health and the environment from anthropogenic emissions and releases of mercury and mercury compounds. It establishes specific measures for each stage of the lifecycle of mercury, from mining to storage and waste management, including a phase-out of mercury primary mining.

At the end of this course, you will be able to:

  1. Describe why mercury is harmful for human health and the environment
  2. Identify the core components and mechanisms established by the Minamata Convention

The course is comprised of 3 units. Each unit includes a book with links to the InforMEA glossary and relevant documents and websites, additional materials and videos.

It will take you 1 hour approximately to complete the course, excluding additional materials. You can manage your time as you wish and retake the course whenever it is more convenient for you. After completing all the units and passing the quiz with an 80% of correct responses, you will receive a certificate of completion.

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Chemicals play an important role in daily life and have contributed greatly to human well-being. Among the tens of thousands of chemicals on the world market, some can cause hazards to human health and the environment. Countries lacking adequate infrastructure to manage chemicals are particularly vulnerable. Improper use, inadequate storage and control, can lead to environmental damage, serious illness, sick and absent farm workers and death while obsolete stockpile clean-up operations can be very expensive. Once released into the environment, some chemicals can persist for years and have long-term health and ecological consequences. 

The production and use of chemicals that are notoriously harmful, and the export of chemicals that are subject to strict use controls in the countries of manufacture into countries that have less advanced chemical management schemes have raised grave concerns. These concerns are particularly relevant to developing countries and countries with economies in transition, as they may be faced with chemicals without adequate information about their harmful impacts and without the infrastructure to manage them in an environmentally sound manner. 

This course introduces you to the Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade, which provides Parties with a first line of defense against hazardous chemicals. 

At the end of this course, you will be able to:

  1. Explain the importance of regulating international trade in certain chemicals
  2. Identify the core components and mechanisms established by the Rotterdam Convention
  3. Outline the synergies process undertaken by the Stockholm, Rotterdam and Basel Conventions

The course is comprised of 3 units. Each unit includes a book with links to the InforMEA and relevant documents and websites, additional materials and videos.

It will take you 1 hour approximately to complete the course, excluding additional materials. You can manage your time as you wish and retake the course whenever it is more convenient for you. After completing all the units and passing the quiz with an 80% of correct responses, you will receive a certificate of completion.

This course has been developed under the InforMEA UNEP initiative based on the UNEP Training Manual on International Environmental Law in co-authoship with the Rotterdam Convention Secretariat.

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Persistent organic pollutants (“POPs”) are organic chemical substances - they are carbon-based. They possess a particular combination of physical and chemical properties such that, once released into the environment, they:

  • remain intact for exceptionally long periods of time (many years);
  • become widely distributed throughout the environment as a result of natural processes involving soil, water and, most notably, air;
  • accumulate in the fatty tissue of living organisms, including humans, and are found at higher concentrations at higher levels in the food chain; and
  • are toxic to both humans and wildlife.

This course introduces you to the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, which seeks to protect human health and the environment from persistent organic pollutants by eliminating the most dangerous POPs, supporting the transition to safer alternatives and by cleaning-up old stockpiles and equipment containing POPs.

At the end of this course, you will be able to:

  1. Describe what persistent organic pollutants are and their properties
  2. Identify the core components and mechanisms established by the Stockholm Convention
  3. Outline the synergies process undertaken by the Stockholm, Rotterdam and Basel Conventions

The course is comprised of 3 units. Each unit includes a book with links to InforMEA, relevant documents and websites, additional materials and videos.

It will take you 1 hour approximately to complete the course, excluding additional materials. You can manage your time as you wish and retake the course whenever it is more convenient for you. After completing all the units and passing the quiz with an 80% of correct responses, you will receive a certificate of completion.

This course has been developed under the InforMEA UNEP initiative based on the UNEP Training Manual on International Environmental Law in co-authoship with the Stockholm Convention Secretariat.

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Eventually, all chemicals will become wastes. As agreed by the international community, “wastes” are substances or objects that are disposed of, intended to be disposed of, or required to be disposed of under provisions of national law. ”Hazardous wastes” are a subset of wastes that include a wide range of wastes capable of causing harm to human health, the environment or both. 

As the world becomes more developed and societies become larger, with affluent consumption patterns, a wide range of industrial, commercial, construction, agricultural, medical and even domestic activities have increased at an unprecedented rate, the inevitable consequence being an accelerated rate of waste generation. Once generated, hazardous wastes require proper handling and disposal if their adverse impacts on human health and the environment are to be avoided. 

This course introduces you to the Basel Convention, which is the most important legally binding international agreement related to hazardous and other wastes. 

At the end of this course, you will be able to:

  1. Explain the importance of regulating international trade of hazardous wastes and their disposal
  2. Identify the core components and mechanisms established by the Basel Convention
  3. Outline the synergies process undertaken by the Stockholm, Rotterdam and Basel Conventions
  4. Describe the main obligations under several regional instruments on hazardous wastes

The course is comprised of 4 units. Each unit includes a book with links to the InforMEA and relevant documents and websites, additional materials and videos.

It will take you two hours approximately to complete the course, excluding additional materials. You can manage your time as you wish and retake the course whenever it is more convenient for you. After completing all the units and passing the quiz with an 80% of correct responses, you will receive a certificate of completion.

This course has been developed under the InforMEA UNEP initiative based on the UNEP Training Manual on International Environmental Law in co-authoship with the Basel Convention Secretariat.

Take the course Preview