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More than 130 nations have agreed to implement a range of initiatives to cut emissions of mercury and reduce the associated risks to human health and the environment.

The announcement was made last Friday (7 February) at a meeting of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). Under the action plan, UNEP will assist countries — especially developing and transitional nations — to tackle mercury pollution from sources such as coal-fired power stations. Measures may include advising countries on cleaner coal technologies and developing public awareness programmes.

The agreement follows discussions on hazardous chemicals at last year's World Summit on Sustainable Development, and follows the publication by UNEP of a report, Global Mercury Assessment, which highlights the dangers of mercury pollution to both humans and wildlife (see 'Call for action on mercury poisoning', 5 February 2003).

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