The Irish Medical News website has reported that Dr Philip Michael, chairman of the Irish Doctors Environmental Association, said that there needed to be a campaign to raise awareness about the use of the potentially harmful metal, which is still commonly used in thermometers or sphygmomano­meters.

Dr Michael said Ireland still had a long way to go on dealing with the issue.

He told the website: “There needs to be a national publicity campaign to make this an issue.

“Then the collection of the products has to take place in a formalised and systemic manner.”

The call came after Norway introduced a total ban on the use of mercury in the manufacturing and import and export of products.

Several other European nations, including France, have already put in place laws to ban the use of mercury by manufacturing businesses.

Mr Michael McKeown, a lecturer in the DCU School of Nursing, said there is no current legislation banning any substance that contains mercury in Ireland.

Once mercury is released into the environment it can change into its more toxic form, methylmercury.

James Cooper

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