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Virtual Course Mercury effects in human health and the environment and Considerations under the Minamata Convention 2019 Edition

Call opened for applicants from: Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, Curaçao, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Anguilla, Cayman Islands, Haiti, Montserrat, British Virgin Islands, Turks and Caicos, Bonaire, Sint Eustatius, Saba, Sint Maarten.

Course description

Mercury, in its various forms and compounds, is a global neurotoxic pollutant of broad concern in public health. Mercury from anthropogenic emissions in the atmosphere is transported over long distances, passes through chemical changes and can bioaccumulate in food chains. 

This course explores the different forms of mercury and its compounds with their respective sources, environmental distributions, toxicological aspects and prevention measures. In addition, it introduces the Minamata Convention and the WHA Resolution 67.11 (2014), and their considerations on public health aspects regarding mercury. 

It has been delivered in Spanish since 2017. However, this 2019 edition is the first one in English. The course is free, but with limited space.

Purpose of the course

To develop skills in public health and chemical safety professionals to better understand and manage issues regarding the sources of mercury exposure and how to act with preventative measures.

Course type

The Course will be entirely conducted online, in the Moodle virtual educational platform of the Virtual Campus of Public Health (VCPH) of PAHO/WHO. Participants will have support from personalized tutors, who are professionals and experts on public health or chemical safety in governmental and non-governmental institutions and academia.

General objectives

After completing the course, participants will be able to:

  1. Identify health and environmental impacts and main risks posed by mercury.
  2. Describe the mercury cycle in the environment and the main anthropogenic sources of mercury into the environment.
  3. Recognize the toxicology aspects of mercury and its compounds.
  4. Participate in activities to phase out and phase down uses of mercury in the health sector.
  5. Identify and monitor populations at risk from mercury contamination.
  6. Identify certain measures to reduce risks of mercury contamination and promote them in their country under the framework of the Minamata Convention on Mercury.

Course Content

Unit Topic

Mercury as a global pollutant of public health concern


Toxicology of mercury and its compounds


Use of mercury-added products in health services


Populations exposed to mercury: cases of Artisanal and Small Scale Gold Mining (ASGM) and skin lightening soaps and creams


Safe fish consumption


Exchanging information and creating knowledge

Workload and Duration

Following the schedule for each unit, the participant will need to read interactive text with self-evaluation quizzes and/or self-reflection activities, perform individual written exercises (one per unit), participate in virtual forums and synchronous communication sessions to exchange on contents of certain units, and deliver a final written exercise at the end of the course.

The course is intended for a timeframe of eight weeks, including one week for the Orientation Program and seven weeks for the course itself.

Orientation Program (week 1): 17-23 July 2019

Technical Course (weeks 2 – 8): 24 July – 11 September 2019

Evaluation and certification

Participants who complete all course activities and requirements will be able to download a certificate issued by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), certifying a 70 hours course.

Call for Applicants

Applicants should be professionals currently involved on environmental health and chemical safety work or research areas, including those from relevant institutions, healthcare services, and academia.

The application is carried out online at the VCPH portal.

Using the guidance below, give special attention when responding to the following sections, as it will be considered during the selection process:


- “Responsibilities of the position related to the course objectives. How your participation will contribute to your institution?” Make sure to indicate in a 200-words text what is your current work, how it is related to environmental health and chemical safety, and what are the benefits that the knowledge to be acquired in the course will bring to your work and your institution.

- Brief Summary of your CV – Provide a 200-words text that evidences your current work area, your professional experience, and what is your current knowledge on the Minamata Convention and its ratification/implementation process in your country.


- “What are your expectations for this course?” Provide explicit comments on what are you expecting to learn in the course and what do you expect to achieve once you acquire this knowledge, including your involvement in national efforts to ratify/implement the Minamata Convention.

- “Write a short text indicating your motivations to participate in the course.” Make sure to be as explicit as possible, providing a 250-300 words text on why the topic is of your interest, the needs you will be able to fulfill with the knowlege acquired, and your plans to apply this knowledge.

Applicants should also attach to their application form an endorsement and support letter from their area or department coordinator, regarding their commitment to complete all activities of the course.


Application and registration:

Follow these steps to complete your online application through the Virtual Campus for Public Health:

1. Create your Campus Account at: https://www.campusvirtualsp.org/en/user/register
2. Once you have created your account, complete the Application form at: https://www.campusvirtualsp.org/en/apply-form

You will need to log in to access the form.

Apply to the course here



The VCPH is licensed under a Creative Commons 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0 IGO) for Intergovernmental Organizations, except where indicated otherwise.
Certain courses and educational resources may be under another type of CC license.