Mercury is Hazardous to Health



New Delhi:

One should not use mercury thermometers and mercury based BP instruments said Padma Shri and Dr B C Roy Awardee Dr K K Aggarwal, President, Heart Care Foundation of India.

Two thermometers are broken each year for one bed in a hospital. For 40,000 beds in Delhi alone, 80,000 thermometers get broken and mercury released in the atmosphere. Each thermometer contain half gram of mercury. Thus four kgs of mercury is released only by hospital beds and only from thermometers. The other sources are mercury BP instruments and mercury dental fillings.

Mercury is toxic by ingestion, inhalation and skin absorption with acute and chronic exposure effects including central nervous system and kidney damage.

Acute exposure includes nausea, blurred vision, painful breathing, excessive salivation and pneumonitis, while chronic or longer–term exposure includes memory disturbance, hypertension, vision problems, hallucinations, tremors and personality changes.

The two properties that make mercury extremely unmanageable are bioaccumulation and biomagnification. Because mercury can cross the blood–brain barrier, and because it can affect brain development, its effects are of special concern to pregnant or lactating women and young children.

The most common exposure routes involve food and diet. Additional exposures may be contributed through air and water, either directly or again through the route of food. Methyl mercury is the most toxic form. Once released, mercury persists in the environment where it circulates between air, water, sediments, soil and biota in various forms.

  1. Mercury is not mined in India.
  1. Mercury–containing instruments, mercury compounds, electrical and electronic substances containing mercury and mercury compounds etc are also imported in large quantities.
  1. India is one of the world’s mercury hotspots, with mercury being released into the air uniformly at a rate of 0.1–0.5 tonnes per year, with coastal areas having an even higher emission rate ranging between 0.5 to 2.0 tonnes per year.
  1. Estimates place release of mercury into India’s environment between 172.5 – 200 tonnes annually.
Mercury is Hazardous to Health
Mercury is Hazardous to Health



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