Contact with mercury can be injurious to health, environment

life tips | Aug. 03, 2017

Prof. Babajide Alo, former Deputy Vice Chancellor, University of Lagos, has warned Nigerians against making contact with mercury as it can be injurious to health and the environment.

Alo gave the warning in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Monday.

He said, “Well, I know that a lot of Nigerians just as it is in many parts of the world do not know the effect of mercury.

“And our message to everyone is that mercury, wherever you find it, please don’t touch it.

“Mercury sometimes finds its way into hair creams and body creams.

“And therefore, if you take up any body cream and see mercury in the label, even if it is in the smallest quantity, please avoid using it.

“Keep away from it and don’t touch it, because you are touching a dangerous chemical."

NAN reports that mercury, a liquid metallic element, forms naturally and is highly poisonous to human health and the environment.

Recent activities have increased the level of mercury in the country which is poisonous to users.

Mercury poisoning can occur via inhalation of the vapour, which can produce harmful effects on the nervous, digestive and immune systems as well as the lungs and kidneys.

People who use mercury could end up developing weakness in the muscles, skin rashes, kidney problems, memory loss, as well as hearing, speaking and sight problems.

Alo said that the Minamata Convention on Mercury was negotiated by the global community including Nigeria between 2010 and 2013 and was adopted and opened for signature on Oct. 10, 2013 at a diplomatic conference in Kumamoto, Japan.

He said the convention was an international treaty designed to protect human health and the environment from anthropogenic emissions and releases of mercury compounds.

According to him, the convention is to promote the use of alternatives, best available techniques and environmental practices across a wide range of products, processes and industries where mercury is used, released or emitted.

He said the use of mercury had become a national and global concern.

“Nigeria is working towards the implementation of the convention by creating awareness to populace on the use of mercury.

“The sensitisation exercise is to educate the public on the dangers and negative effect on the use of mercury.’’

The former deputy vice chancellor said that mercury poisoning could be prevented by avoiding diets, body creams, medical and other devices containing the metallic element.

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