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140 countries join U.N. treaty limiting mercury use

(Associated Press) A new and legally binding international treaty to reduce harmful emissions of mercury has been adopted by more than 140 nations, capping four years of difficult negotiations but stopping short of some of the tougher measures that proponents had envisioned.

The new accord, signed on Saturday in Geneva, aims to cut mercury pollution from mining, utility plants and a host of products and industrial processes, by setting enforceable limits and encouraging shifts to alternatives in which mercury is not used, released or emitted.

Mercury, known to be a poison for centuries, is natural element that cannot be created or destroyed.