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News article14 July 2023Directorate-General for Environment3 min read

ZERO POLLUTION: Commission proposes to ban all remaining intentional uses of mercury in the EU

Mercury drops.
© Getty Images / videophoto

Today, the European Commission has adopted a proposal to revise the Mercury Regulation to protect EU citizens and the environment from toxic mercury. The revision will fully prohibit the use of dental amalgam, which currently uses 40 tonnes of mercury in the EU annually. It will also prohibit the manufacture and export of certain products containing mercury, such as lamps. The Commission proposal was adopted in parallel to a delegated act, aligning the revision of the Mercury Regulation with decisions taken by the fourth Conference of Parties (COP4) of the Minamata Convention. 

The revised Mercury Regulation:

The revised Mercury Regulation targets the last intentional remaining uses of mercury in a variety of products in the EU in line with commitments set out in the EU’s Zero Pollution Ambition. It sets rules that put the EU firmly on the track to becoming the first mercury-free economy by:
•    Introducing a total phase-out of the use of dental amalgam from 1 January 2025 in light of viable mercury-free alternatives, thereby reducing human exposure and environmental burden;
•    Prohibiting to manufacture and export of dental amalgam from the EU from 1 January 2025;
•    Introducing a prohibition to manufacture and export of six additional mercury containing lamps from 1 January 2026 and 1 January 2028 (depending on the lamps type). 

The delegated act:

The delegated act adopted under the Mercury Regulation transposes decisions taken at the fourth Conference of Parties (2022) of the Minamata Convention into EU law by introducing a prohibition to the manufacture import and export of eight additional mercury containing products, including mercury-containing lamps and non-electrical equipment. The Minamata Convention is the main international legal framework seeking to protect human health and the environment from anthropogenic emissions and releases of mercury to air, water and land. Like the Mercury Regulation, it addresses the whole life cycle of mercury, from primary mercury mining to mercury waste disposal. 

Next steps

The revised Mercury Regulation will now be subject to the approval of the European Parliament and the Council as part of the ordinary legislative procedure. The delegated act is transmitted to the European Parliament and the Council for their scrutiny.


Mercury is a highly toxic chemical which represents threats to human health as well as to the environment. When it is released into the environment, it enters the food chain where it accumulates (mainly in fish). Exposure to high levels of mercury can cause harm to the brain, lungs, kidneys and the immune system.

It has been used historically in numerous applications, such as gold extraction, batteries, fluorescent lights, thermometers and barometers. Over the past twenty years the EU has developed a comprehensive body of legislation, especially the Mercury Regulation, which protects human health and the environment from anthropogenic emissions and releases of mercury and, in doing so, addresses the entire lifecycle of mercury from primary mercury mining to the final disposal of mercury waste. This includes measures on trade in products containing mercury and mercury pollution.

The Minamata Convention entered into force on 16 August 2017 and has to date been ratified by the European Union and 143 countries, including all the EU Member States. The fifth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Minamata Convention on Mercury (COP-5) will take place in Geneva, Switzerland, from 30 October to 3 November 2023. 

For More Information

Protecting human health and the environment from the harmful effects of mercury

Revised Mercury Regulation proposal

Virginijus Sinkevičius, Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, said:

Some of us still remember merrily chasing silver bullets of mercury when a mercury-filled thermometer would break. Thanks to EU law, those games are a thing of the past, and today we are proposing the last intentional uses of mercury to join those broken thermometers in the recycling park of history.  


Publication date
14 July 2023
Directorate-General for Environment

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