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Fact Sheets

Fact Sheets & Summaries > Toxic Chemicals and Human Health > [Purchasing for Pollution Prevention: Mercury-Free Medical and Surgical Supplies Fact Sheet]

Purchasing for Pollution Prevention: Mercury-Free Medical and Surgical Supplies Fact Sheet

A wide variety of medical equipment can contain mercury, from thermometers and blood pressure equipment to diagnostic analyzers. Many hospitals are now buying only mercury-free products, and government agencies can easily follow suit by restricting mercury on their purchasing contracts. With INFORMís technical assistance, Massachusetts changed its guidelines to allow the sale of mercury-containing products through its state contract only when no mercury-free substitutes are available. Since the contract's inception in the spring of 2001, no mercury-containing devices have been requested by state agencies.

Performance of mercury-free substitutes


Recommended specification

As part of [state's] efforts to reduce the use and disposal of mercury and mercury containing products, the [state] has determined that any contracts resulting from this solicitation must meet the following requirements:

Additionally, it is desirable that Bidders offer:

The [purchasing office] reserves the right to remove products from this contract that have been deemed hazardous and/or unacceptable by federal/state/agency regulations and/or guidelines for their agencies or affiliate departments.

Actual specifications used by a state government

Massachusetts restricts the sale of mercury-containing products, allowing vendors to sell them only when no mercury-free substitute is available. Since spring 2001, no vendor has sold any mercury-containing product to the state. Note that in these specifications, "mercury-labeled" means "mercury-added."

Wisconsin restricts the sale of mercury-containing thermometers and blood pressure equipment, and reserves the right to remove other mercury-containing items from the contract.

For more information:

1 N.D. Markandu et al., "The Mercury Sphygmomanometers Should Be Abandoned Before it is Proscribed," Journal of Human Hypertension (2000) 14, 31-36; Vincent J. Canzanello et al., "Are Aneroid Sphygmomanometers Accurate in Hospital and Clinic Settings?" Archives of Internal Medicine, March 12, 2001, 729-731.

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