Mercury Poisoning Dentistry- Study of Mercury levels of Air & Around Dental Sites in Pakistan and Resulting Environment & Health Hazards
Locale: Select sites of dental colleges, teaching hospitals and clinics at Lahore, Peshawar, Islamabad, Rawalpindi and Abbottabad
Team Members: Dr. Mahmood A. Khwaja
Despite a toxic pollutant Mercury is used in dental amalgam fillings since it is the most economical option. It has effects on environment as well as on the health of people exposed i.e. medical and paramedical staff and persons with dental amalgam fillings. SDPI team monitored mercury concentration in the air of dental hospitals, teaching hospitals, dental clinics and two industries. Safe level of mercury in air is 300 ng/m3. Key informant interviews were conducted to assess the handling, disposal and management of mercury filling. It is widely used in the field of dentistry because it’s the best filling material.
- Identification of “Mercury Hot Spots”, in close proximity to populated areas
- Development of baseline data regarding mercury indoor levels at dental sites and in air
- Dissemination and discussion of collected data with all stakeholders, including policy makers and government officials for appropriate policy intervention (including signing/ratifying “Minamata Convention on Mercury”) and its implementation in the country
- Policy advice/formulation of recommendations towards control measures for mercury releases/minimization of mercury exposure
- Awareness-raising regarding health impact of mercury in the light of data/findings of the study
- Survey and field monitoring at select cities in the country
- Information dissemination, awareness raising and local, regional and international networking, including poster competition among students from various schools, seminars, and newspaper articles
- Research based policy intervention
- The survey and monitoring data collected from various sites show higher level of mercury in air than the US EPA (RfC) limits.
- Among dental sites, mercury contamination of air was found to be generally in the increasing order operative section > corridor > open air (mostly below permissible limits) and teaching hospitals/dental colleges > general hospitals > private clinics.
- Lack of awareness to the mercury handling, mishandling of the mercury/mercury amalgam, mercury containing waste, improper and inadequate ventilation system and lack of awareness regarding health hazards of mercury are the main reasons for the observed elevated levels of mercury in air at some of the visited sites.