Published Date: Jun 5, 2014
Alarming levels of mercury
With an estimated maximum and minimum emission and transfer of mercury
about 36,900 and 10,800 kg per year respectively, Pakistan, at present,
still lacks any mercury specific legislation.
Policy Institute (SDPI) in connection to World Environment Day launched
a follow up study of mercury levels in air in and around general
hospitals and dental clinics here on Wednesday.
In the first phase of
study, mercury levels in and around mercury releasing sources and in
open air were examined to identify "Mercury Hot Spots" in some cities of
Pakistan, namely Peshawar, Rawalpindi-Islamabad and Lahore. This follow
up study aimed to improve, evaluate and revise the syllabus content in
Dental Teaching Institutions in Pakistan with regard to mercury amalgam.
the first phase of study two separate questionnaires, one each for the
dental and industrial sites, were developed for collecting the
background relevant information regarding mercury use, waste and
disposal at each sampling site.
The high precision RA-915+ mercury
analyzer was used to measure mercury levels in air at the selected
sites. The study revealed that the level of mercury in treatment
sections, adjacent corridors and open air in and around general
hospitals and dental clinics was 10 to 30 times higher than the standard
level that is 300 ng/m3. Among all the visited/monitored dental sites
in Lahore, Peshawar, Rawalpindi & Islamabad eleven sites were most
contaminated at the time of the visit. At some sites the levels were
alarming as they ranged between 25,000 to 33,000 ng/m3.
also showed the unawareness to the mercury handling, mishandling of the
mercury/mercury amalgam, mercury containing waste, improper and
inadequate ventilation system and lack of awareness regarding health
hazards of mercury as the main reasons for the observed elevated levels
of mercury in air at some of the visited sites.
At the launching
ceremony held at Pakistan national council of Arts, Anusha Shirazi,
SDPI, suggested to involve Higher Education Commission in review and
revision of curriculum offered at dental teaching institutions in the
Asif Shujah Khan, Retd. Director General, Pakistan
Environment Protection Agency said that both political and bureaucratic
system should be involved in overcoming the mercury dispersion. On the
occasion, SDPI launched a petition against mercury. Mohammed Mobashir
shared the background of petition saying that most recently, 140
countries signed an agreement in Geneva to reduce mercury use and
control its emission and release by the end of the 2020.