Geneva: More than 140 countries have reached a deal to cut mercury emissions after all-night talks in Geneva, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) said on Saturday.

The agreement aimed to phase out many common household products that use the liquid metal, like thermometers and some flourescent lamps, and reduce emissions from power plants and cement factories, UNEP spokesman Nick Nuttall told Reuters.

"A treaty to start to begin to rid the world of a notorious health-hazardous metal was agreed in the morning of Jan 19," Nuttall said.

The Minamata Convention on Mercury - named after the Japanese city where people were poisoned in the mid-20th century from industrial discharges of mercury - could take three to five years to come into force, UNEP said.

Small-scale gold miners, who use mercury as a catalyst to separate gold from its ore, would also be protected in the deal that took three years to negotiate, it added.


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