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Issue 37
, 2012
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Training on Effective Bio Medical Waste Management and Mercury Free Health Care System in Gujarat

Source: Toxics Link, Date: , 2012

Date: 22nd - 24th May 2012

The danger of mercury exposure – one of the most potent neuro-nephro toxin is now being recognized globally. Mercury emissions into the environment are transported regionally and globally in the atmosphere and its compounds have numerous and well-documented adverse effects on human and animal health. Most frighteningly, it can cross the placental barrier and enter the foetus, lowering IQs and damaging nervous systems. Pregnant women, children, nurses, industrial workers, dental assistants, students using mercury in school labs, as well as those of us using dental mercury fillings are at high risk.

Toxics link in its endeavor to address the issue of mercury in heath care sector and work towards mercury free health care system in the state of Gujarat organized a workshop on Effective Bio Medical Waste Management and Mercury Free Health Care System in Gujarat from 22nd - 24th May 2012 at Rajkot, Jamnagar. The workshop was organized in collaboration with Paryavaraniya Vikas Kendra, Rajkot and Gujarat Pollution Control Board, Gandhinagar and supported by IPEN (International POPs Elimination Network).

The workshop aimed to sensitize on the issues surrounding the use of mercury in health care sector in the region, by providing a platform to all the stakeholders for a healthy discussion, knowledge and experience sharing. The workshop addressed the issue of mercury toxicity in health care sector; occupational health hazard of Mercury; role and responsibilities of important stakeholders; mercury phase out plan and challenges; mercury policy and the global initiative.

Mr. Tushar Pancholi of Paryavaraniay Vikas Kendra explained the need to sensitize and bring awareness about Mercury in healthcare establishments and the instruments that contain mercury in healthcare establishments.

Mr. Rahul Thumpi and Ms. Kankana Das from Toxics link through their presentation explained the various forms of mercury and its circulation in the environment.  Further they briefed on the adverse impacts of mercury and also why mercury is internationally in the picture. They elaborated on the issues (cost, lack of mandatory standardization for alternate products, issues related to storage of surplus mercury) of mercury phase-out from the healthcare sector. Mr. Thumpi threw light on the global movement on mercury in which UNEP, WHO-HCWH etc has taken initiatives and shared examples from across the world that have shifted towards mercury free.

Ms. Kankana Das pointed that mercury is a global problem. Mercury is a non-persistent metal. It can travel from one country to another country and adversely impacts the environment. Thus there is a need to eliminate mercury and prevent it from entering in the environment by eradicating complete use of mercury in day-to-day equipments.

On the issue of Management of Mercury waste, participants were briefed on some significant key points. Such as, Mercury-contaminated waste should not be mixed with other biomedical waste or with general waste. It should not be swept down the drain. It should be disposed off at a hazardous waste facility or given to a mercury-based equipment manufacturer. They were advised that mercury should not be handled with bare hands and as far as possible. Jewellery should be removed at the time of handling mercury. Appropriate personal protective equipment (rubber gloves, goggles/face shields and clothing) should be worn while handling Hg.

Also a short film was screened by Toxics Link that focused on mercury fumes; mercury spill management and mercury Free Hospitals in India.

The programs were attended by a remarkable gathering from various departments. And the workshop was attended by more than 120 participants which included representatives of Pollution Control Boards, Doctors, Health Care Professionals, Educational and Research Institutes.