PR No. 198 IMPOSING REGULATIONS ON MERCURY USE IN DENTAL AMALGAM IN PAKISTAN UNDER CONSIDERATION Islamabad: June 28, 2016
Ministry of Climate Change convened a meeting of relevant stakeholders on 27th June, 2016 in the Ministry of Climate Change to discuss the option for restriction on use of mercury in dental amalgam for pregnant women and children under 12 year. The meeting was chaired by Mr. Iftikhar-ul-Hassan Shah Gilani, Joint Secretary (International Cooperation), Ministry of Climate Change.
Mr Iftikhar ul-Hassan Shah Gilani, Joint Secretary (IC),Ministry of Climate Change explained about the measures under Minamata Convention on mercury include those to control the supply and trade of mercury, including limitations on certain specific sources of mercury, such as from primary mining. “There are also control measures on mercury-added products and manufacturing process in which mercury or mercury compounds are used, as well as controls on artisanal and small-scale gold mining. Emissions and releases of mercury each have a separate article, with controls directed to reducing levels of mercury while allowing flexibility to accommodate national development plans” ,said by the joint secretary. “Further, there are measures on environmentally sound interim storage of mercury and on mercury wastes, as well as measures on contaminated sites. Provision is made within Convention for financial and technical support to developing countries and countries with economies in transition, with a financial mechanism”, informed by Iftikhar Gillani.
Dr. Zaigham Abbas, Deputy Director (Chemical),Ministry of Climate Change informed the participants about the toxicity of mercury in products such as dental amalgam, skin whitening creams, light bulbs etc in our country.
“The health impacts of mercury are well established. Minamata Convention on mercury was adopted in October 2013 at Kumamoto, Japan and Pakistan signed the Convention on 10th October, 2013 at Kumamoto, Japan .Currently, 128 countries are the signatory and 28 countries have ratified the said Convention. Pakistan yet has to ratify the said Convention”, informed by Mr.Zaigham.
“The objective of the Convention is for the protection of human health and environment from emissions and releases of mercury and mercury compounds. He told that Mercury is recognized as substance producing significant neurological and other effects, with concerns expressed particularly about the effects on unborn children and infants. The global transport of mercury in the environment was a key reason for taking the decision that global action to address the problem of mercury pollution in the environment is required”,highlighted by the Dr.Zaigham.
He also informed that UNEP has approved project titled “Development of Minamata Initial Assessment in Pakistan. This project has been approved during the Global Environment Facility (GEF) fifth Replenishment. United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is the Implementing Agency and International Environmental Technology Center, UNEP, Osaka, Japan is the Executing Agency for the project activities. The project will be implemented in close cooperation with Ministry of Climate Change, as well as IETC, UNEP and its Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific (ROAP). The main components of the Project are:-
Strengthening the baselines on mercury management, development of national mercury inventories,piloting of sectorial action plans as a follow up of prioritization, including indicative sampling, development of national mercury management plans and regional approach. Lessons learned, final report and national plans agreed
Dr. Arsalan Hyder, Deputy Director, Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations & Coordination emphasized to create awareness in general public and to sensitize dentist about the use of mercury in dental filling. He also stressed for the national strategy on the phase down on the use of mercury and to introduce economical and environment friendly alternatives in dentistry. He agreed that Ministry of National Health Services, Regulation & Coordination will develop a concept paper for the approval of competent authority. In this regard, Ministry of National Health Services, Regulation & Coordination will further conduct the meetings and develops a road map and policy for mercury free dental filling. They will also engage PMDC and HEC to revise the curriculum for the effective implementation of Minamata Convention on mercury.
Dr Mahmood A Khwaja, Senior Advisor, Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) explained about the proposal on the restriction of mercury use in dental amalgam for pregnant women and children under 12. He also informed that in many countries, including Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Hungary, UK, Japan, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Austria, Norway, there is restriction on mercury amalgam use specially for pregnant women & children (below 12 years) and an increased use of “Mercury Free” alternative material. There is general ban on mercury products in Sweden, Norway & Denmark. He stressed the Government to revise the curriculum of dentistry and to involve HEC and PMDC to take concrete actions in this regard.