Abstract

The healthcare sector is an important contributor to mercury (Hg) pollution because of the potential presence of mercury in thermometers, blood pressure cuffs, amalgams, etc. There are also other potential sources of mercury in this sector which are used frequently and in high volumes where the presence of the metal is not obvious and which might be collectively contributing to pollution. For instance, some chemicals used for the clinical diagnosis of illness may contain mercury. The goal of this study was to investigate potential sources of mercury pollution, which originate from clinical laboratory discharges, using an exploratory approach. The focus was on the residue generated during automatic analysis of patients' bodily fluids at a medical center in Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico. This study shows an overview of what might be happening in the region or the country related to non-obvious sources of mercury in the healthcare sector. The results showed measurable levels of mercury in the residues coming from urine sediment analysis. These amounts do not exceed the maximum allowed by Mexican environmental regulations; nevertheless, the frequency and cumulative volume of residues generated, combined with the potential for persistence and the bioaccumulation of mercury in the environment, warrant attention. The work carried out in this study is being taken as a model for future studies for pollution prevention in the healthcare sector with the goal of measuring mercury emissions to the environment from clinical laboratory wastewater, including identifying sources which - while not obvious - could be important given the frequency and volume of their use in the clinical diagnosis. © 2014 Springer International Publishing.
Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)5393-5400
Number of pages8
JournalEnvironmental Monitoring and Assessment
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2014

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