Project launched to measure mercury pollution

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Islamabad—Pakistan’s first ever project to measure mercury pollution in the air was launched here on Wednesday.

The collaborative project started by Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI), European Environmental Bureau (EEB) and Zero Mercury Working Group (ZMWG), is an attempt to identify and monitor ‘Mercury emission and release sites’ in various cities of Pakistan and assess their air quality to protect environment and human health.

As part of commencement activities, the teams of SDPI monitors have been trained on Lumex Mercury Analyzer and other specialized field instruments to accurately collect and note measurements.

The project was formally launched by SDPI’s Executive Director, Dr. Abid Qayyum Suleri and Deputy Executive Director, Dr. Vaqar Ahmad. Main feature of the launch was a demo measurement of mercury pollution at SDPI office, which the team selected as their first sampling site in Pakistan. The team took indoor and outdoor air samples along with other climatic parameters such as temperature, humidity, wind speed and direction. The results showed mercury level to be between 10.44 - 10.89 (n=9) nano gram per cubic meter of the air. These levels are considered safe, and are far below than the permissible limit (2000 ng/M3) for safe occupational health and safety.

SDPI monitoring team is now going to visit Lahore for further monitoring at different sampling sites, including dental clinics, light products manufacturing industry and chlor-alkali plant. Lahore visit would be followed up by similar studies at sites in Peshawar, Islamabad and Rawalpindi.

The project has garnered widespread support across the country where Ministry of Disaster Management, Pakistan Environmental Protection Agency (Pak - EPA) and Institute of Chemical Sciences, Peshawar University, Khyber PakhtunKhawa had already extended their support for the study.

Mercury (Hg), known as ‘quick silver’ poses serious risks not only to environment but also to human health. Earlier this month, 140 countries in Geneva adopted a ground-breaking, world’s first legally binding treaty on mercury, limiting the use and emission of health-hazardous mercury.

Mercury sources are quite diverse, ranging from thermometers, electric bulbs, and switches to power plants, coal fired power stations, metal smelters, gold mining and cement industry. It is also employed in some cosmetics like facial creams and dental treatments like mercury amalgam filling. A persistent pollutant, Mercury is not limited to its source but it travels and sometimes found thousands of kilometers away from the source.

 

Courtesy: Pakistan Observer


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