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The Express Tribune

Published Date: Jun 5, 2014

Mercury waste management: Disposal mechanism urged

An expert has held lack of awareness and inappropriate
knowledge of medical practitioners responsible for the increase in
airborne mercury levels.

"It has been observed that many dental professionals do not use
preventive measures", Dr Mehmood A Khwaja, Senior Adviser Chemicals at
the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) said on Wednesday.

While presenting a survey report at a ceremony at the Pakistan
National Council of Arts (PNCA) he suggested that a proper mechanism of
mercury waste management should be put in place, said a press release
issued by the institute.

The report on the bachelor of dental surgery curriculum, second toxic
mercury study, was launched at the ceremony, organised by SDPI in
connection with World Environment Day.

The study aims to improve, evaluate and revise the syllabus content
in dental teaching institutes in Pakistan with regard to mercury
amalgam.

Referring to the survey, Sadaf Nawaz, co-presenter of the study
explained that 98 per cent of respondents of the survey wanted revision
in the curriculum related to the use of mercury.

During the discussion, Anusha Shirazi suggested involving the Higher
Education Commission (HEC) in revising the curriculum offered at dental
teaching institutes in the country.

Asif Shuja Khan, a former Pakistan Environment Protection Agency
(Pak-EPA) director general, discussed that both political and
bureaucratic system should be involved in overcoming the mercury
dispersion.

He suggested that SDPI launch a national level mercury reduction
campaign with the government. He also emphasised that environment impact
assessments (EIA) must be carried out before the start of any project,
rather than after, as by that point, the report becomes meaningless.

A skit competition among schools of Islamabad and Rawalpindi was also organised.

PAEC Model College, Nilore won first prize, Roots International
School, Westridge branch got second prize and Darul Arqam, Alipur Farash
stood third.

The award for the distinguished performances went to Islamabad
College of Arts and Science, Out of School Children School and Kids City
High School, Kahuta.

Information and National Heritage Joint Secretary Mashood Ahmad
Mirza, the chief guest, appreciated the effort of schools and the
institute.

He said SDPI took an initiative to use art for advocacy and awareness
on health and environmental issues, especially among school students.

"We had anticipated that the contest would lead to greater
understanding for the protection of environment, healthy living and
sustainable development" he added.

On the occasion, SDPI launched a petition against mercury.

While sharing the background of the petition, Mohammed Mobashir said
recently, 140 countries have signed an agreement in Geneva to reduce
mercury use and control its emission and release by the end of the 2020.

In this regard, SDPI worked on a study that indicates the level of
mercury at selected sites is eight to 20 times higher than the
permissible limit.

"In the light of study, SDPI has submitted a list of 1,000
signatories supporting the petition against mercury to Prime Minister
Nawaz Sharif, urging him to consider the drafting of mercury-specific
legislation across the country," he added.

Source: http://tribune.com.pk/story/717644/mercury-waste-management-disposal-mechanism-urged/