Lebanon Print
Sunday, 02 October 2011 18:56

Coordinating NGO for EEB/ZMWG funded project:                   The League of Indipendent Activists (IndyAct)

Contact details:            Naji Kodeih- This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Local dental workers at risk from mercury use, Emma Gatten, The Daily Star, 30 March 2012

dentalPicIdnyact


BEIRUT: Dental workers in Lebanon are exposed to potentially dangerous levels of mercury due to their continued use of the substance in dental work, despite widespread global acceptance of the risks, according to a report released Thursday by NGO IndyAct.

“The results showed that the health care sector, and the dental sector in particular, have high levels of mercury, and the workers in this sector are exposed to medium to high risk levels,” said Naji Kodeih, a toxic chemist with IndyAct who led the research.

The study, conducted in October last year, assessed levels of mercury in different sectors across Lebanon and Morocco, including cement and chemical industry zones, dumps and the health care sector.

Kodeih estimated that around 30 percent of dental surgeries still use amalgam fillings which contain mercury, putting their mercury concentration levels up to 25 as high as those that do not.

A highly toxic substance, mercury can be fatal if inhaled directly, and is harmful when absorbed. As well as in dental fillings, it is also used in medical equipment including thermometers and as a component of paint and batteries.

Long-term exposure to the chemical can cause symptoms including paralysis, insomnia and damage to vision and hearing but its real danger lies in the potential, and irreversible, harm to fetal and child development, particularly neurologically.

Kodeih said the government could do much more to try and control the problem, and bring Lebanon in line with other countries’ regulations.

“We call on the government to give high attention to this problem, and to set up the necessary legislation and national strategy and policy, and to take a more active role in international negotiations,” he said.

Mona Haddad, representing the Syndicate of Hospitals, said the cost of replacement and a lack of awareness of the dangers of mercury poisoning both played a large part in its continued use in hospital equipment, one of the major sources of demand for mercury-containing products.

“In major hospitals they do know about it, but if you go to the rural areas that’s where you see a lack,” she said.

Haddad said Lebanon lacks basic regulation over mercury disposal, which means it is often dumped and ultimately enters the water system.

Haddad said Lebanon could look to other countries for responsible disposal methods, particularly Sweden which is on track for a centralized collection point for mercury waste by 2015.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on March 30, 2012, on page 4. Read more: http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Local-News/2012/Mar-30/168472-local-dental-workers-at-risk-from-mercury-use.ashx#ixzz1qbmb78cG 
(The Daily Star :: Lebanon News :: http://www.dailystar.com.lb)




2011 Project title:               Measuring Mercury Pollution in the air in Lebanon and Morocco

 Project objectives:     Use the Lumex machine to analyze mercury content in different usages

Activities:

ð     Analyze mercury emissions in open dumpsites and hospital waste incinerators, work coordinated with the Zero Waste coalition in Lebanon and in Morocco

ð     Increase local awareness of mercury hazards

Status:  completed, summary of the project activitiesFinal report

2010 Project

IndyAct, with technical and financial support by the EEB/ZMWG, will be organising a workshop for representatives of Arab states and representatives of Arab NGOs, in preparation for the second session of negotiations on mercury. It is believed that this, will greatly help to bring views together, increase the understanding of Arab delegates on the issue, and shape positions that would help achieve an effective, comprehensive and binding Convention on mercury.

The workshop aims to achieve the following objectives:

  •  Strengthening the awareness of participants about the dangers of mercury, and policy options to avoid these dangers based on science.
  • Provide the participants (especially negotiators) with information on the most important issues being negotiated.
  • Work to bring the views together to achieve a unified Arab position on key issues being negotiated.
  • Activate the role of the Arab groups (especially NGOs) in the negotiations to achieve a comprehensive, strong, and binding agreement on mercury.
  • To develop an official Lebanese and Arab position, clear and consistent with the overall objectives of the potential agreement to come.

Deliverables

The workshop took place on the 4-5 November 2010 , in Beirut, Lebanon.
Over 11 Arab country representatives participated actively to the meeting, UNEP, the Mercury INC Chair, ZMWG, and many NGOs from the Arab region.

The outcome of the meeting was a Position Paper issued by the Arab Consultative Workshop . The paper is also available in Arabic.