Health Care Without Harm's Mercury Man Escorts the Mad Hatter Out the Door At NIH; Government Labs Lead the Way with Pledge to Stop Use of Mercury

Apr 26, 2001, 01:00 ET from Health Care Without Harm

    BETHESDA, Md., April 26 /PRNewswire/ -- Today, the environmental superhero
 "Mercury Man" was on hand to symbolically escort "The Mad Hatter" from the
 building as the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Warren Grant Magnuson
 Clinical Center signed Health Care Without Harm's "Making Medicine
 Mercury-Free" pledge today in an informal ceremony.  The ceremony was also
 held to kick-off NIH's groundbreaking "Mad as a Hatter" Pledge Program, to
 eliminate mercury in its research facilities.  This is the first time
 government laboratories have publicly stated their commitment to phase out
 their use of mercury-containing laboratory chemicals.
     The Clinical Center has already phased out over 1500 mercury-containing
 blood pressure devices and discontinued the purchase of new mercury-containing
 products.  The "Mad as a Hatter" Program will expand upon this commitment and
 target labs for removal of mercury products.
     "This is an historic day for science and public health," noted Jamie
 Harvie, Mercury Coordinator for Health Care Without Harm.  "Having the NIH
 labs make this commitment to stop using mercury sends a strong message to
 other facilities that mercury compounds are not necessary for scientifically
 valid lab procedures."
     Mercury has traditionally been used in fixatives such as Zenker's solution
 and other lab chemicals.  If those chemicals are dumped down the drain, the
 mercury can be converted into methylmercury by microorganisms present in lakes
 and rivers.  That methylmercury enters the aquatic ecosystem, where it
 concentrates in animals at the top of the food chain.
     Mercury is a potent neurotoxin that can affect the way we see, hear,
 touch, taste and feel.  It is particularly dangerous for pregnant woman
 because it can pass from a mother to her developing fetus.  Infants and young
 children are also very vulnerable to the impacts of mercury because it can
 affect their developing brains.  Most people are exposed to mercury through
 the consumption of fish and seafood.  A recent report by the Centers for
 Disease Control and Prevention found that 1 in 10 women in the U.S. have
 sufficiently high levels of mercury in their bodies to cause neurological
 damage to their unborn children.
     In explaining why the Clinical Center (CC) signed the "Making Medicine
 Mercury-Free" Pledge, Michele R. Evans, Dr. PH, CC Safety Officer stated, "The
 goal was to reduce our liabilities associated with the use of mercury and make
 the hospital a safer place for our patients and staff.  It was a win-win
 situation."
     "The Mad Hatter still lurks in many labs and health care facilities that
 continue to use mercury," said Mercury Man.  "When all of these places have
 adopted the mercury alternatives that are available, he'll go back to
 Wonderland where he belongs!"
     More than 600 hospitals and clinics have signed the HCWH pledge to phase
 out mercury.  The NIH facilities are the first group of laboratories to
 undertake a pledge program.  Each facility will establish its own timetable
 and strategy for "Making Medicine Mercury-Free."
     HCWH is an international coalition of more than 300 organizations in
 27 countries committed to transforming the health care industry so it is no
 longer a source of environmental harm.  To learn more about Health Care
 Without Harm, visit http://www.noharm.org/
 
                     MAKE YOUR OPINION COUNT -  Click Here
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SOURCE Health Care Without Harm
    BETHESDA, Md., April 26 /PRNewswire/ -- Today, the environmental superhero
 "Mercury Man" was on hand to symbolically escort "The Mad Hatter" from the
 building as the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Warren Grant Magnuson
 Clinical Center signed Health Care Without Harm's "Making Medicine
 Mercury-Free" pledge today in an informal ceremony.  The ceremony was also
 held to kick-off NIH's groundbreaking "Mad as a Hatter" Pledge Program, to
 eliminate mercury in its research facilities.  This is the first time
 government laboratories have publicly stated their commitment to phase out
 their use of mercury-containing laboratory chemicals.
     The Clinical Center has already phased out over 1500 mercury-containing
 blood pressure devices and discontinued the purchase of new mercury-containing
 products.  The "Mad as a Hatter" Program will expand upon this commitment and
 target labs for removal of mercury products.
     "This is an historic day for science and public health," noted Jamie
 Harvie, Mercury Coordinator for Health Care Without Harm.  "Having the NIH
 labs make this commitment to stop using mercury sends a strong message to
 other facilities that mercury compounds are not necessary for scientifically
 valid lab procedures."
     Mercury has traditionally been used in fixatives such as Zenker's solution
 and other lab chemicals.  If those chemicals are dumped down the drain, the
 mercury can be converted into methylmercury by microorganisms present in lakes
 and rivers.  That methylmercury enters the aquatic ecosystem, where it
 concentrates in animals at the top of the food chain.
     Mercury is a potent neurotoxin that can affect the way we see, hear,
 touch, taste and feel.  It is particularly dangerous for pregnant woman
 because it can pass from a mother to her developing fetus.  Infants and young
 children are also very vulnerable to the impacts of mercury because it can
 affect their developing brains.  Most people are exposed to mercury through
 the consumption of fish and seafood.  A recent report by the Centers for
 Disease Control and Prevention found that 1 in 10 women in the U.S. have
 sufficiently high levels of mercury in their bodies to cause neurological
 damage to their unborn children.
     In explaining why the Clinical Center (CC) signed the "Making Medicine
 Mercury-Free" Pledge, Michele R. Evans, Dr. PH, CC Safety Officer stated, "The
 goal was to reduce our liabilities associated with the use of mercury and make
 the hospital a safer place for our patients and staff.  It was a win-win
 situation."
     "The Mad Hatter still lurks in many labs and health care facilities that
 continue to use mercury," said Mercury Man.  "When all of these places have
 adopted the mercury alternatives that are available, he'll go back to
 Wonderland where he belongs!"
     More than 600 hospitals and clinics have signed the HCWH pledge to phase
 out mercury.  The NIH facilities are the first group of laboratories to
 undertake a pledge program.  Each facility will establish its own timetable
 and strategy for "Making Medicine Mercury-Free."
     HCWH is an international coalition of more than 300 organizations in
 27 countries committed to transforming the health care industry so it is no
 longer a source of environmental harm.  To learn more about Health Care
 Without Harm, visit http://www.noharm.org/
 
                     MAKE YOUR OPINION COUNT -  Click Here
                http://tbutton.prnewswire.com/prn/11690X21324477
 
 SOURCE  Health Care Without Harm