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Staff Reporter

Daily Times

Published Date: Sep 6, 2018

Ministry of Climate Change organizes awareness seminar on mercury

The Ministry of Climate Change in collaboration with United Nations Environment and the Global Environment Facility (GEF) organised an awareness seminar on mercury and its impacts on human health and the Pakistani environment.
The Ministry of Climate Change with development partners is implementing a project on Development of Minamata Initial Assessment in Pakistan which is aimed to strengthening the baselines on mercury management, development of national mercury release inventories, piloting of sectoral action plans as a follow up of prioritisation, including indicative sampling and development of national mercury management plans.
The seminar was also aimed to highlight the harmful impacts of mercury and briefing on phasing out of mercury use in the country. The use of mercury poses risks to environment and human health, especially the health of children. In Pakistan, mercury emission and transfer are mainly from extraction and use of fuels, intentional use of mercury in industrial processes and other intentional processes such as dental mercury.
Ministry of Climate Change Joint Secretary Hammad Shamimi was the chief guest on the occasion. Ministry of Climate Change National Coordination Unit In-charge & Deputy Director Dr Zaigham Abbas, Minimata Convention Pakistan Focal Point Muhammad Murid Rahimoon, Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) Senior Adviser Dr Mahmood A Khawaja and IIUI Environmental Science Department Head Dr Ibrar Shinwari, senior officials of MoCC, SDPI, UN Environment, GEF, civil society, industry experts and academicians were also present on the occasion.
Hammad Shamimi acknowledged the efforts of all the stakeholders in combating the use of mercury in the country and joining hands with Ministry of Climate Change in raising awareness among the public.
He further said, “Pakistan is the signatory of Minamata Convention on mercury and is responsible to implement the provisions of the international agreement and raise awareness about the importance of regulating the management and disposal of this toxic chemical element.”
Dr Zaigham Abbas said, “The government is fully committed to replace mercury-based technologies and products in-line with decisions being taken by opting for friendly technologies and products in Pakistan.”
During the seminar, a mini exhibition, painting challenge, speech and essay writing contest was also conducted to raise the issues and ways to highlight the harmful impacts of mercury use in the country.
Environmental contamination due to mercury is caused by several industries, petrochemicals, mining, painting and also by agricultural sources such as fertilisers and fungicidal sprays. Mercury and its compounds are cumulative toxins and in small quantities are hazardous to human health.
The expert’s cooperation is vital to combat mercury consumption and introduce alternate products to phase out use of mercury. Breathing elemental mercury into lungs is generally more dangerous than if one ate the mercury or absorbed it through skin. Once inhaled, the mercury vapor can damage the central nervous system, kidneys and liver.