The Global Movement for Mercury Free Health Care.

Beijing, Buenos Aires, Durban, San Francisco, October 17, 2007 - Health Care Without Harm today released a new report, The Global Movement

It can be found on the Health Care Without Harm website:

The report documents how health care systems around the world are substituting mercury-based medical devices with safer alternatives, thereby protecting health care workers, patients

As report co-author Joshua Karliner explains, “there is a growing groundswell around mercury-free health care—not only in the US and Europe, which have virtually phased out mercury thermometers —but also in developing countries ”

The report contains a number of colorful examples of health care professionals, government officials and non-governmental organizations in developing countries working to phase-out mercury thermometers and blood pressure devices from hospitals

It also highlights a series of model policies that are emerging for large cities, national governments, states and provinces in countries such as Argentina, South Africa, India and the

“We are reaching a tipping point,” says report co-author Jamie Harvie. “It is now possible that we can virtually phase mercury out of health care within the ”

The report is being released on the eve of the Southern Africa Conference on Mercury Free Health Care, the third in a series of four regional events Health Care Without Harm is organizing in association with the UN Environment Programme (see

Some of the report’s findings include:

Ø The health care sector is a key source of global mercury demand and emissions.

Ø Mercury waste from broken fever thermometers is significant. For instance, thermometers used and broken in Argentina’s health care sector emit an estimated 1 metric ton of mercury per year. The estimate for Mexico is similar. For India, it is 2.4 metric tons.

Ø The mercury-based medical device industry is a major polluter. In China, which produces more than 150 million mercury thermometers per-year, more than 27 metric tons of mercury are lost to the environment before the devices ever leave the factory.

Ø Peer reviewed literature from the last decade shows that digital thermometers and aneroid sphygmomanometers are just as accurate as mercury-based devices.

Ø In Argentina, Brazil, Europe, Mexico, South Africa and the United States, health care systems are breaking even or saving money by switching to non-mercury devices.

Ø Hundreds, if not thousands of hospitals and health care systems throughout Asia, Africa and Latin America are already going mercury-free.

Ø If the right political and economic forces converge, the day is not far off when, in most hospitals around the world, mercury based-medical devices will be a thing of the past.

Ø Health care leaders can be key spokespeople and advocates for mercury elimination and environmental health—not just in hospitals--but throughout our societies.

The report can be downloaded at:

Joshua Karliner

International Team Coordinator, Health Care Without Harm

c/o Salud sin Daño - América Latina

3 de Febrero 3062
1429 Capital Federal

Tel/Fax: +54 11 4701-8872

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