Accessible Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter February 19, 2014

Mercury poisoning dentistry: high-level indoor air mercury contamination at selected dental sites

Mahmood A. Khwaja and Maryam Shabbir Abbasi

Abstract

Mercury (Hg), also known as quick silver, is an essential constituent of dental amalgam. It is a toxic substance of global concern. Children are more at risk from mercury poisoning which affects their neurological development and brain. In the past, a number of studies at dental sites in many countries have been carried out and reported. The present report briefly describes and discusses our recent investigations carried out at 34 dental sites (teaching institutions, hospitals and private clinics) in Pakistan. It is evident from the data that at many sites the indoor mercury vapor levels exceed far above the permissible limit recommended for safe physical and mental health. At these sites, public in general and the medical, paramedical staff and vulnerable population in particular, are at most serious risk to health resulting from exposure to toxic and hazardous mercury. To minimize such risk, some of the recommendations are, best in-house environmental practices for occupational health and safety, mercury contaminated waste reduction at source, mercury specific legislation and ratification of Minamata convention on mercury by Pakistan and other world governments at the earliest time possible


Corresponding author: Mahmood A. Khwaja, Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI), 38, Main Embassy Road, G-6/3, Islamabad, Pakistan, E-mail:

Acknowledgments

We gratefully acknowledge the collaboration of the Zero Mercury Working Group (ZMWG) and the Institute of Chemical Sciences (ICS), Peshawar University, as well as the financial support of the Sigrid Rausing Trust and the European Commission via the European Environmental Bureau (EEB). We are also thankful to our SDPI colleagues, Fareeha Mehmood and Sehrish Jahangir, for their valuable contributions towards this study.

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Received: 2014-1-16
Accepted: 2014-1-16
Published Online: 2014-2-19
Published in Print: 2014-4-1

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