KATHMANDU: Experts today urged health professionals to take an initiative to phase out mercury use from healthcare sector, arguing that it has adversely affected human health and environment.
Mahesh Nakarmi, director at the Health Care Foundation Nepal said that the disposed off and damaged mercury thermometers has adverse environmental impact as well as implications for human health.
Ram Charitra Sah, Executive Director, Centre for Public Health and Environmental Development (CEPHED), said the government should no longer delay in formulating policies and strategies that are necessary for making Nepal a mercury-free country.
He warned that the mercury causes harmful effects to the nervous, digestive, respiratory, and immune systems.
"It also damages kidneys and lung," he said, adding, "Exposure to it may result tremours, impaired vision, hearing loss, paralysis, insomnia, and emotional instability."
The World Health Organisation has confirmed that the use of mercury also causes developmental deficits during pregnancy and childhood.
"Raising awareness among heathcare professionals about hazards of mercury is a must," said Sah, urging the government to find an alternative to mercury.
He further requested for using mercury-free thermometers in hospitals and urged the authorities to provide training to hospital staff for safe disposal and handling of mercury.
Sah was addressing a national level workshop on 'sensitization of mercury free health care'.
A research commissioned by CEPHED said Nepal imported 150 kg of mercury compounds from 2007 to 2008.
The research showed that import, sell and distribution of mercury does not require any government licence.
Low level of awareness about the mercury and its health impact on the people has further compunded the problems, the study showed.
There is a complete lack of training on the safe handling of mercury, its compounds and instruments as well as on the management of spillage and mercury containing waste, it stated.