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Eliminating Mercury-Containing Medical Devices

Eliminating Mercury-Containing Medical Devices:

The governments of Albania, Burkina Faso, India, Montenegro, and Uganda have united to combat chemical pollution by launching a USD 134-million project to eliminate the use of mercury in medical devices.

  • The initiative is led by United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), funded by Global Environment Facility (GEF), and executed by World Health Organisation (WHO), aiming to reduce the impact of healthcare on the environment and human health.
  • It aims to support global efforts in improving the management of mercury waste and promote the use of alternatives.
  • The project aims to phase out mercury-added thermometers and sphygmomanometers at a rate of 20% per year, improving the lives of over 1.8 million people.
  • Medical thermometers and sphygmomanometers (devices that measure blood pressure) contain mercury and are harmless as long as they remain intact.
  • Instances of breakages and improper disposal of medical devices release mercury vapour that contaminates surroundings both air and water.
  • Inhalation of these mercury vapours can cause damage to the lungs, kidneys and nervous system.