World governments have agreed to crack down on mercury pollution.
Environment ministers meeting in Nairobi have initiated a process that should end in a legally binding, international treaty.
The landmark decision was taken by more than 140 countries attending the governing council of the United Nations Environment Programme (Unep).
Mercury compounds can be damaging to the central nervous systems of humans and animals.
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Unep’s Executive Director, Achim Steiner, said: “Unep has, for some seven years, co-ordinated and contributed to an intense scientific and policy debate on how best to deal with the issue of mercury.
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“Today the world’s environment ministers, armed with the full facts and full choices, decided the time for talking was over – the time for action on this pollution is now.”