Following three years of negotiations, in 2012 Parties to the 1998 Protocol on Heavy Metals under the LRTAP Convention adopted several amendments. Parties to the Protocol are obliged to reduce emissions for three heavy metals – cadmium, lead and mercury – below their levels in 1990 or a defined alternative year. Due to increasing industrial activities and energy demand, heavy metal emissions in several areas of the world are still rising and therefore critical loads in the environment are exceeded such that action is needed.

It will take more years, possibly even decades, before decreasing emissions and depositions of heavy metals produce the desired positive effect on the environment.

The adopted amendments introduce more stringent emission limit values for emissions of both particulate matter (PM) and the specified heavy metals for several industrial emission sources which release them into the atmosphere. Another key obligation is the application of best available techniques (BAT) to control emissions of these pollutants from existing and new stationary emission sources.

Furthermore, the Parties adopted a guidance document on “Best available techniques for controlling heavy metals and their compounds from the source categories in Annex II”. As is the case for the amendments to the Gothenburg Protocol, the amended Protocol on Heavy Metals contains considerable flexibilities to enable the accession of the countries in Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia in the coming years.

The Protocol also contains measures to lower heavy metal emissions from products, such as mercury in batteries, and proposes the introduction of management measures for other mercury-containing products, such as electrical components (thermostats, switches), measuring devices (thermometers, manometers, barometers), fluorescent lamps, dental amalgam, pesticides and paint.


A state of progress will be presented at the next TFTEI meeting on 25 June 2015.