'Replace mercury devices with digital ones by Dec'

'Replace mercury devices with digital ones by Dec'

'Replace mercury devices with digital ones by Dec'

The Indian Medical Association (IMA) has suggested to doctors across the country to do away with mercury containing thermometers and blood pressure (BP) apparatus by the end of this year.

The process of phasing out had started on a small scale two years ago. Now, the IMA is asking doctors to replace them with digital instruments by December 27, 2016.

Speaking to Deccan Herald, Dr K K Aggarwal, Secretary General, IMA, said that though the deadline across the world to do away with mercury apparatus is 2020, the IMA has asked doctors to complete the process by the end of this year. The move is in accordance with the resolution passed at the Minamata Convention on Mercury that there is a need to phase out mercury containing BP instruments and thermometers.

A senior doctor working with a primary health centre in Bengaluru Rural said that even as mercury thermometers have been replaced with the digital ones, it is yet to happen with regard to BP apparatus. “We have been using the old ones still as there has been no replacement,” she added.

Doctors, however, are divided over the reliability of the digital readings.
Dr T A Veerabhadraiah, district surgeon, Tumakuru, said doctors were asked to replace the mercury instruments in a phased manner.

 “The old ones would be collected and discarded by the pollution control board at a location that is far from the access of people. They would be buried,” he added.

He also clarified that there would only be a difference of about 10 to 20 units between the mercury and digital apparatus readings and that it must not be a cause for concern.

Explaining why it was essential, Dr Asha Benakappa, director, Indira Gandhi Institute of Child Health, said that the fear of a thermometer breaking and hence emitting toxic fumes was a cause for worry.  “It was also used in storing vaccines earlier and is not accepted now.”

Even as doctors say that the process of moving from the ones with mercury to the digital instruments has begun, the online platforms still have the mercury thermometers on sale. While the process of withdrawing mercury containing instruments could be on in hospitals, there has been no attempt to reach the message out to households.