If the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board has its way, mercury thermometers may soon be on their way out from the city hospitals.

In an effort to prevent the use of mercury-based equipment, a total of 1700 thermometers, 300 hub cutters and 1000 BP apparatus that do not utilise mercury will soon be supplied to 14 hospitals in the city and Kancheepuram district. Mercury has toxic effects and exposure to the metal can cause damage to the brain, kidney, and lungs.

This is part of a two-year United Nations Development Programme project that ended on December 31, 2012.

Of the 70 lakh that had been provided by by the UNDP to the TNPCB. Rs. 38 lakh has been released to the Tamil Nadu Medical Services Corporation for procuring mercury-free equipment.

Bids have already been finalised for the same.

A total sum of Rs. 1.40 crore had been earmarked for the UNDP project which aimed to “demonstrate and promote best techniques and practices to reduce health care waste and avoid environmental release of dioxins and mercury.”

“We have written to the UNDP for the release of the remaining amount,” a TNPCB official said.

Another Rs. 20 lakh was also released for the purchase of equipment for G.J. Multiclave India Pvt. Ltd., a facility to treat medical waste at Thenmelpakkam near Sriperumbudur.

The amount covered fifty per cent of the cost of equipment to continuously monitor the release of dioxins during incineration, a new autoclave and a shredder.

Training for staff

Training was also provided staff of the 14 hospitals which included eight private hospitals — MIOT, Mohan Diabetes Clinic, Seethapathi Clinic, Dr. Mehta’s Clinic, Rajan Eye Care, Rajan Dental Care, Deepam Hospitals and Venkateswara Hospital, five government facilities — Chengalpet Medical College Hospital, Nandivaram Public Health Centre, Kancheepuram District Headquarters Hospital, the Chromepet Government Hospital and Wallajah Public Health Centre and one Chennai Corporation facility on Jones Road in Saidapet.

“Once the hospitals get the mercury-free equipment, they should hand over their old thermometers and BP apparatus that have mercury. And in future, these hospitals should not replace these equipment with those containing mercury. This was a pilot project and based on its implementation, it would be taken to other hospitals as well,” said the source.