Published Date: Sep 5, 2018
Experts Call For Massive Public Awareness To Address Mercury Hazard Issues
ISLAMABAD, Sep 5 (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News – 5th Sep, 2018 ) :Speakers at a seminar on Wednesday underlined the importance of public awareness to avoid exposure of human health and environment to hazard mercury, which poses grave risk to the sustainability of the life and environment.The government, non government organizations, environmental experts, academia, industrialists, medical practitioners and dentists also pledged to join hands with all relevant stakeholders to play their role to eliminate use of the mercury at all levels to achieve the objectives of mercury-free Pakistan by 2020.
Addressing as a keynote speaker at the Mercury Awareness Seminar, Chief Guest Hammad Shamimi, Joint Secretary International Cooperation Ministry of Climate Change, stressed for creating public understanding about causes, impacts and sources of mercury to achieve the goal of mercury-free Pakistan. In this regard, he said the role of academia, researchers, scientists, policymakers and media is of unprecedented importance. "Exposure to mercury from environmental sources pose potential health risks to the public which can be reduced through public awareness," he highlighted. He also urged the media to join government efforts to increase public awareness to tackle adverse impacts of mercury.
Deputy Secretary of the Ministry of Climate Change, Mureed Rahimoon spoke on the aims and objectives of the project and UNEP’s Minamata Convention on Mercury.
The experts also identified mercury in mining, hospitals and industrial equipment, jewellery making, skin whitening creams/soaps, electric batteries, paints and fish species, which was considered one of the key causes of nervous system disorders, kidney, lungs, reproductive system and cardiovascular defects. "Long-term exposure to the mercury vapours causes anxiety, loss of appetite, tremors, excessive shyness, irritability, changes in vision, fatigue, hearing and sleeping problems, headache, chest pain, coughing and sore throat and memory loss," said Dr.
Mahmood A. Khwaja, a well-known mercury researcher at the Islamabad-based Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI).
Dr. Razia Safdar from Ministry of Health spoke about the role of her Ministry in protecting the country’s people and environment from exposure to mercury and said policy measures are already being taken to eliminate use mercury from the country with introduction of substitute.
Project Coordinator for UNEP-funded mercury-free Pakistan programme, Dr. Zaigham Abbas told the participants that lack of data on the extent of mercury use and awareness gap on its health and environmental impacts, absence of adequate environmental-friendly alternative technology and funding constraints are major issues to make mercury free Pakistan. Assistant Professor at Fatima Jinnah Women University, Dr. Sofia Khalid pressed on need for nation-wide awareness of health concerns resulting from exposure to mercury of vulnerable populations, especially women, children to protect ,future generation. She pledged her University’s all-out support to climate change ministry and health ministry to take effective measures regarding research on mercury issues, causes, sources and effects.
Industry representative Muhammad Khurshid Sheikh underlined that their industry has already complied with the Ministry’s advise and completely phased out. He sought the government’s support for industrial sector to reduce the use of mercury in various industrial products and introduction of economical and environment friendly alternatives.
The seminar was organised by the Ministry of Climate Change in collaboration with United Nations Environment Programme and Global Environment Facility under the project "Development of Minamata Initial Assessment in Pakistan".