The Department of Health on Saturday sent a chemical clean-up team to the Fabella Memorial hospital after high levels of mercury were detected in the hospital’s storage room.
The Health department said a container of amalgam, an alloy composed of mainly of silver and mercury and used mostly in oral health care, accidentally broke in the hospital’s storeroom on Thursday.
Health Secretary Enrique Ona said the DOH response team and the Hazardous Material Unit of the Bureau of Fire Protection were trying to determine the extent of the spill and to start the clean-up.
Ona ordered the DOH team to conduct tests on people that may have been exposed to the mercury to detect possible effects of the poisonous chemical on their health.
He said he already ordered the hospital’s officials and staff to ensure the safety of the patients.
In a statement, Fabella said 40 patients were transferred from the hospital’s pediatric ward to another ward after the spill was detected.
Because of the incident, Ona ordered a review of proper and safe storage and disposal of harmful chemicals, particularly mercury, in all hospitals in the country.
In 2008, DOH ordered all hospitals and health facilities to stop using medical devices containing mercury like thermometers because of health risks the chemical poses. FATIMA CIELO B. CANCEL