Mercury sphygmomanometers: disposal has far reaching consequences

BMJ 2001; 323 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.323.7314.689 (Published 22 September 2001) Cite this as: BMJ 2001;323:689
  1. Patrick Saunders, regional environmental health adviser (p.j.saunders@bham.ac.uk),
  2. Andrew Rouse, consultant in public health,
  3. Shaukat Ali, clinical governance officer
  1. Birmingham South West Primary Care Group, Edgbaston, Birmingham B15 2TG
  2. Department of Public Health and Epidemiology, University of Birmingham, Birmingham B15 2TT

    EDITOR—The papers by O'Brien and Beevers et al have documented the trend away from the use of the mercury sphygmomanometer. 1 2 But the ethical, legal, economic, and public health consequences associated with their disposal have not been so well documented. This lack of advice is surprising since mercury has well known toxic properties. Haphazard disposal of mercury inevitably leads to environmental recycling and bioconcentration, with ecological damage at best and human poisoning at worst.3

    The Special Waste Regulations 1996 classify mercury and waste material containing more than 3% mercury as special waste and require …

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