The process of phasing out mercury-based equipment in Delhi hospitals is complete, the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) has said. These equipment have been replaced with “good quality, non-mercury ones.”
“Fresh installation of such equipment has already been stopped. All healthcare facilities (HCFs) dispose of mercury waste only through the two agencies specified by us,” a DPCC official told HT.
The phase-out move is to ensure that spilled mercury does not get mixed with bio-medical or other solid waste generated from healthcare facilities.
The DPCC had in 2010 directed hospitals in Delhi with 50 or more beds to phase out mercury-based equipment. It had also ordered disposal of mercury waste only through agencies notified by it.
Clinics and hospitals are required to inform the committee about the quantity of mercury waste (broken and discarded mercury-based thermometers and blood pressure apparatus) given to the agencies.
Along with the state boards or committees, the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) monitors ambient air quality in the country. But mercury is not included in the notified ambient air quality standards.
The central panel has prepared and circulated guidelines on “environmentally sound management of mercury waste in healthcare facilities”. The guidelines specify mercury spill collection procedure, storage and disposal options as well as alternative non-mercury instruments.
The ministry of health and family welfare had in March 2010 issued guidelines to reduce environmental pollution due to mercury in central government hospitals and health centres by phasing out mercury-containing equipment.