ISLAMABAD: In view of its hazardous effects on human health and environment, the federal government has restricted the use of mercury dental amalgam for children below 15 and pregnant women. In an advisory note F. No. 2-1/2018- Director (Inst) issued on Thursday, September 27, the Ministry of National Health Services, Regulation and Coordination has directed all the health departments in four provinces and Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) and Gilgit-Baltistan not to prefer or restrict the dental mercury amalgam fillings for children and pregnant and breastfeeding women. The decision came as a result of the Sustainable Development Policy Institute’s (SDPI) research and regressive advocacy campaigns to ban mercury dental amalgam use in the country from time to time. The research led by Dr Mehamood A Khawaja, Senior Advisor SDPI on Chemicals and Sustainable Industrial Development, over the last few years has been appreciated not only in Pakistan but also organisation working on mercury related issues in the region. Lauding the decision of the government, SDPI termed it a right direction at a right time. SDPI is hopeful to eliminate mercury dental amalgam use not only for children and pregnant and breastfeeding women, but also public in general across the country to safeguard their health. Dr Khawja has appealed to the government to make legislation in this regard and strictly ban the use of mercury not only in dental amalgams but also in other devices. According to the official notification, mercury is the 3rd most hazardous substance of global concern to which children are most vulnerable, causing neurological, developmental, reproductive problems, impairing growing nervous system, damaging kidney and fetuses. To protect human health and environment from emissions or releases of mercury from mercury compound, the world has acted and adopted Minamata Convention on mercury to which more than 128 countries including Pakistan is a signatory. So far more than 92 governments have already ratified the convention. Pakistan is expected to sign it by the end of this year. Parties to Minamata Convention on mercury are obliged to phase out mercury in products, including dental amalgam, by 2020. The European Union already banned amalgam use for children under age 15, pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers early this year. Published in Daily Times, September 28th 2018.