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The Lahore Times

Published Date: Apr 10, 2013

Mercury pollution exceeds safe levels inside dental hospitals in Rawalpindi, Islamabad

study by Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) reveals high level of
‘indoor mercury pollution’ in the air inside various dental hospitals in
Rawalpindi and Islamabad.

study, conducted in collaboration with European Environmental Bureau (EEB) and
Zero Mercury Working Group (ZMWG), seek to monitor ‘Mercury emission and
release sites’ in various cities of Pakistan and assess air quality to protect
environment and human health.

the Mercury metal and its amalgam are widely used in dental treatment, SDPI
monitoring team visited various dental hospitals in Rawalpindi and Islamabad
and took measurements of indoor and outdoor air for Mercury contamination using
special equipment called Lumex mercury analyzer.

study came up with the findings that indoor air at some dental teaching
hospitals has 8 -20 times higher level of mercury pollutants than permissible
limit for human health. However, the outdoor air around testing sites showed
lower level of mercury compared to indoor air.

results were duly shared with staff and administration of these institutions
with suggestions to immediately adopt safety measures such as improved
cross-air ventilation, installation of exhaust fans and most importantly a
reduction in the use of mercury, its amalgam and waste at the dental treatment

study, currently in progress, also include monitoring of other ‘mercury source
and release sites’ which would culminate into a comprehensive report that would
be shared with relevant stakeholders including ministry of climate change,
EPAs, administration of dental treatment institutions, management of
chlor-alkali and light product manufacturing plants for subsequent policy
actions. The report would also be used to raise awareness in public on toxicity
and health hazards of exposure to mercury.

is a hazardous substance which is in use since long. Mercury sources are quite
diverse, ranging from thermometers, electric bulbs and switches to power
plants, coal fired power stations, metal smelters, gold mining and cement
industry. Most recently, 140 countries signed an agreement in Geneva to reduce
mercury use and control its emission and releases by end of 2020.