WHO wants to eliminate mercury fever thermometers
GENEVA, Switzerland: In addition to measures for phasing down the use of dental amalgam after the signing of the Minamata Convention on Mercury on 10 October, the World Health Organization (WHO) has launched a new initiative. It is aimed at the elimination of mercury from all medical measuring devices, such as fever thermometers and devices for measuring blood pressure, by 2020.
According to the WHO, the Convention allows countries to continue to use mercury in medical measuring devices until 2030 under special circumstances. However, the organisation and Health Care Without Harm, an international non-governmental organisation, aim to meet the main target date of 2020 owing to the potential negative health effects of mercury, including brain and neurological damage, especially among young people. It has been linked to kidney damage and damage to the digestive tract as well.
“With the signing of the Minamata Convention on Mercury, we are going a long way to protecting the world from the devastating health consequences of mercury,” said Dr Margaret Chan, WHO Director-General. “Mercury is one of the top ten chemicals of major public health concern and is a substance that disperses and remains in ecosystems for generations, causing severe ill health and intellectual impairment to exposed populations.”
In addition, WHO and its partners in the health sector will endeavour to phase out mercury-containing topical antiseptics and skin-lightening cosmetics. They will also develop public health strategies to address the health impacts of mercury use in artisanal and small-scale gold mining.