Published Date: Mar 7, 2013
Pakistan?s first ever project to measure mercury pollution in air launched
first ever project to measure mercury pollution in the air was launched on
Wednesday in the federal capital.
collaborative project, initiated by Sustainable Development Policy Institute
(SDPI), European Environmental Bureau (EEB) and Zero Mercury Working Group
(ZMWG), was an attempt to identify and monitor ‘Mercury emission and release
sites’ in various cities of Pakistan and assess their air quality to protect
environmental and human health. As a part of the commencement of activities,
teams of SDPI monitors had been trained on Lumex Mercury Analyzer and other
specialised field instruments to accurately collect and note measurements.
project was formally launched by SDPI’s Executive Director Dr Abid Qayyum
Suleri and Deputy Executive Director Dr Waqar Ahmad.
main feature of the launch was a demo measurement of mercury pollution at SDPI
office which the team selected as their first sampling site in Pakistan.
team took indoor and outdoor air samples along with other climatic parameters
such as temperature, humidity, wind speed and direction.
results showed mercury level to be between 10.44 – 10.89 (n=9) nano gram per
cubic meter of the air. These levels were considered safe, and are far below
than the permissible limit (2000 ng/M3) for safe occupational health and
SDPI monitoring team was now going to visit Lahore for further monitoring at
different sampling sites, including dental clinics and light products
manufacturing industry. The Lahore visit would be followed up by similar visits
to sites in Peshawar, Islamabad and Rawalpindi.
project had garnered widespread support across the country and the Ministry of
Disaster Management, Pakistan Environmental Protection Agency (Pak – EPA),
Institute of Chemical Sciences and Peshawar University Khyber Pakhtunkhwa had
already extended their support for the study. Mercury (Hg), known as ‘quick
silver’ poses serious risks not only to environment but also to human health.
this month, 140 countries in Geneva adopted the world’s first legally binding
treaty on mercury, limiting the use and emission of health-hazardous mercury.
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. It is also employed in some cosmetics like facial
creams and dental treatments like mercury amalgam filling. A persistent
pollutant, mercury is not limited to its source but it travels and is sometimes
found thousands of kilometers away from the source.