Mercury: Global Overview
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Mercury is a potent neurotoxin that can harm the brain, spinal cord, kidneys and liver. It is used throughout health care in a variety of products including thermometers, sphygmomanometers, dental amalgam, laboratory chemicals and preservatives such as thimerosal, cleaning agents, and various electronic devices such as fluorescent lamps and computer equipment.
The cumulative usage, spills, breakages and disposal of these products makes the health care sector a significant contributor of mercury pollution in the environment.
Fortunately, it is relatively easy to phase out the use of mercury because of the many affordable, accurate and safer alternatives that exist for nearly all uses of mercury in health care.
As part of a global initiative to reduce the use and spread of mercury in all aspects of society, Health Care Without Harm is partnering with the World Health Organization to virtually eliminate mercury-based medical devices around the world over the next decade.
For detailed information on this topic, in addition to tools and resources, select your region of the world from the links at the top of this page.
- End of an Era: The Phase Out of Mercury Blood Pressure Devices in the United States (pdf)
- European Union Ban on Sale of Mercury-Measuring Instruments (pdf)
- Global Movement for Mercury-Free Health Care Report (pdf)
- IPEN website: International POPs Elimination Network Global Mercury-Free Campaign
- Mercury Sphygmomanometers in Healthcare and the Feasibility of Alternatives (pdf)
Published by the EU Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks
- Toward the Tipping Point: WHO-HCWH Global Initiative to Substitute Mercury-Based Medical Devices in Health Care. A Two-Year Progress Report (pdf)
- World Medical Association article: Mercury-Free Health Care (pdf)
- World Medical Association: Reducing the Global Burden of Mercury (pdf)