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Report: Seven sources release 8.6 ton mercury annually

  • Published at 12:45 am March 20th, 2019
Environment and Social Development Organization launches report on mercury contamination at a press conference on Tuesday Courtesy

The findings of this study, first of its kind in Bangladesh, said 14,772kg mercury was being produced annually

Seven sources, the biggest among them paint, are contributing to more than half of the mercury being released to the environment.

In 2017-2018, mercury released from sources including paint, thermometer, sphygmomanometers, light bulbs, switches and relays, batteries and cosmetics altogether amounted to 8,613.8kg.

The findings of this study, first of its kind in Bangladesh, said 14,772kg mercury was being produced annually.

Environment and social development organization (Esdo) launchedthe study report titled “ mercury added products : Bangladesh situation” in a press conference at their office in Dhaka. 

According to the Esdo report, paint is the major source of mercury contamination, releasing 4,748kg mercury every year to the environment. Switches and relays release 1,404kg, sphygmomanometers 960kg, thermometers and cosmetics sectors 551kg each, bulbs 382kg, and button cell batteries produced 17.8kg.

Esdo Secretary General Dr Shahriar Hossain said: “Mass use of mercury containing products is a threat to fulfilling the country’s commitment to phase out mercury containing products by 2020, which was adopted in the Minamata convention.”

The report says all the products in each sector have mercury-free alternatives and the majority of businesses are aware of them. Only 14% of the measuring device distributors and retailers said they had no alternative products in stock which are mercury free. This scenario indicates that the country is already prepared to use the mercury free products, the study said.

Syed Marghub Murshed, former secretary and ESDO chairperson, said: “Firstly people and professionals have to be aware of the adverse environmental and health effect of mercury exposure. Secondly, use of these products which have no alternatives must be decreased. And finally the government should adopt appropriate laws and rules by banning mercury containing products.”

“If the government wants to phase out mercury containing products by 2020, it should issue executive orders immediately,” he said. 

Dr Abul Hasem Khan, chairman (chemical division), Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institution (BSTI), said: “Mercury has serious health effects specially methylmercury which enters our bodies when we eat mercury containing fish.

“When we inhale mercury from the air, it affects our lungs directly. Some of it leaves the body with urine and stool but some gets deposited. Any amount of mercury does harm to the body. It may cause skin decease or even cancer,” he added.