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Mercury Falling

Back in the day, we remember playing with this liquid metal, after collecting it from a broken thermometer. Now, we know better. Elemental or metallic mercury and all of its compounds are toxic, and here are some of its harmful effects:

  • It can permanently damage or fatally injure the brain and the kidneys
  • It can be absorbed through the skin and cause allergic reactions.
  • When ingested, it can cause severe kidney and intestinal damage.
  • It can cause memory, language, and attention deficits in children exposed to mercury in the womb.
It was in 2008 that the Department of Health proclaimed the Administrative Order 21 or the “Gradual Phase-out of Mercury in all Philippine Health Care Facilities and institutions”. This means getting rid of mercury-based apparatuses such as thermometers (temperature checker) and sphygmomanometers (blood pressure checker). On its second year, the program to phase out mercury is further supported by the partnership of Watsons Pharmacy, Omron Healthcare, and Health Care Without Harm-Southeast Asia that calls for a mercury-free health care Philippines by 2010. Watsons’ Chief Executive Officer Robert Sun says that even if “in the Philippines, people have become more health conscious, [and] there is progression, preventive strategies still take a backseat.” This is why the advocacy, which was launched in SM Megamall, Mandaluyong City last September 3, 2010, is an important step to educate people on the harms of mercury and why it should be avoided.

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