In a 2017-18 survey conducted by Esdo, estimated mercury input in the environment stands at 21,030kg per year
Experts have emphasized raising awareness about the use of mercury in products and its proper management.
With this as the agenda, a workshop on “Mercury Pollution in Bangladesh: Effects on Health and Environment” under the Minamata Initial Assessment (MIA) project, was held at Krishibid Institute in Dhaka’s Farmgate on Thursday.
The program was jointly organized by Department of Environment (DoE) and Environment and Social Development Organization (Esdo).
Mercury is widely used in various products and industrial processes. However, it poses a serious threat to human health and the environment.
Mercury containing-products continue to harm the environment for many years after disposal.
In a 2017-18 survey conducted by Esdo, estimated mercury input in the environment stands at 21,030kg per year. Bangladesh has no specific guidelines regarding the management of mercury in products, or how to safely manage the use of products and equipment that have mercury or mercury compounds.
Discarded, mercury pollutes the environment and does serious harm to public health.
It damages the nervous system, kidneys, and cardiovascular system. The main objective of the workshop was to create awareness about the harmful effects of mercury. It also sought to immediately establish regulations for the phase out of mercury added products in Bangladesh within 2020.
DoE Director General, Dr Sultan Ahmed, said: “The Minamata Convention on Mercury, a major international treaty aiming to protect human health and the environment from the anthropogenic release of mercury and mercury compounds, was signed by Bangladesh on October 10, 2013. According to that, mercury use in products has to be banned by 2020.”
Dr Md Billal Hossain, additional secretary of Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, said: “We are in an alarming situation regarding mercury emission in Bangladesh. Many consumer products here have high levels of mercury which creates environmental and health hazards. We need awareness and regulation to phase out products containing mercury.”
Masud Iqbal Md Shameem, project director of MIA project under DoE, said: “All mercury-related products have mercury-free alternatives available in our country. So there really isn't any reason for us to continue using such products.”
The European Union banned mercury-containing batteries, thermometers, barometers, blood pressure monitors, and cosmetics. Mercury is also no longer allowed in most switches and relays found in electronic equipment. Energy-efficient lamps using mercury technology are only permitted on the market with reduced mercury content.
The seminar was chaired by Dr Sultan Ahmed, director general of DoE.
Mohammad Yamin Chowdhury, additional secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, and Dr Shahriar Hossain, secretary general, Esdo and United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) Mercury Waste expert, also participated in the event.