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Kerala hospitals join mercury free campaign

Thiruvananthapuram, June 26: Source : The Hindu Business Line

Four select hospitals in the State are implementing the mercury-free programme by phasing out instruments using mercury, a chemical element and a known health hazard.

They are phasing out mercury-based equipment such as thermometers and sphygmomanometers (or doctor’s BP apparatus).

The four hospitals are Lakeshore Hospital and Research Centre in Kochi; Government taluk hospital, Parassala; Samad IVF Hospital and Jubilee Memorial Hospital, in Thiruvananthapuram.

Toxics Link, a New Delhi-based environmental non-profit organisation and Kerala-based Centre for Innovation in Science and Social Action spearheaded the programme.

Lakeshore Hospital and Research Centre had worked out a phase-out policy as part of its corporate social responsibility.

Staff was familiarised with mercury hazard and spillage management. Required kits were made readily available to manage spill. The dental department now used composite fillings alone.

Segregation and collection of contaminated waste was also done. “However, safe disposal and recycling is still a lingering issue,” said Thomas Thachil, Medical Superintendent.

Taluk Hospital, Parassala, had replaced all mercury thermometers with digital thermometers. BP apparatus was being replaced with aneroid (mechanical types with a dial). Spill management kit too had been made available.

Samad IVF Hospital adopted the phase-out policy in 2010. K.G. Madhavan Pillai, Managing Director, said budgets were allocated for purchasing non-mercury equipment.

Satish Sinha, Associate Director, Toxics Link, said mercury-related hazards were serious and required immediate attention.

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