About this Publication on Sphygmomanometers
- Source for this Publication
- The Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks (SCENIHR)
- Background to the SCENIHR opinion on Mercury Sphymomanometers
- Specific questions put to the SCENIHR by the European Commission
1. Source for this Publication
The texts in level 3 are directly sourced from
“Mercury Sphygmomanometers in Healthcare and the Feasibility of Alternatives”, a report produced in 2009 by the SCENIHR (Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks) of the European Commission.
Levels 1 and 2 were written by Dr Jon Turney.
2. The Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks (SCENIHR)
The Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks (SCENIHR) is one of three independent non-food scientific committees which give scientific advice on consumer safety, public health and the environment. It was set up by the European Commission to consider in particular emerging issues arising from new technologies. The Committee provides opinions on emerging or newly identified health and environmental risks and on broad, complex or multidisciplinary issues requiring a comprehensive assessment of risks to consumer safety or public health and related issues not covered by other Community risk assessment bodies.
For further information on the SCENIHR see: http://ec.europa.eu/health/scientific_committees/emerging/index_en.htm
3. Background to the SCENIHR opinion on Mercury Sphymomanometers
Mercury and its compounds are toxic, and it is important to minimise mercury levels in the environment and reduce human exposure. This effort has included bans on sale of mercury containing products, and close scrutiny of the risks and benefits of some uses of mercury which continue. The SCENIHR previously considered the use of dental amalgam in 2008.
4. Specific questions put to the SCENIHR by the European Commission
- Is there sufficient evidence to demonstrate that mercury-free blood pressure measuring devices such as aneroid or electronic instruments are generally reliable substitutes for mercury-containing sphygmomanometers?
- Have mercury-free sphygmomanometers been adequately validated over a wide range of blood pressures, ages, and clinical conditions to allow for routine use in hospitals and outpatient settings?
- Have mercury-free sphygmomanometers been adequately validated for the diagnosis of hypertension in specific clinical conditions such as arrhythmia, pre-eclampsia in obstetrics and certain vascular diseases?
- Are mercury-based sphygmomanometers essential as reference devices for validation of long-term clinical epidemiological studies enrolling patients with hypertension?
- Are mercury-based sphygmomanometers essential as reference devices for calibration of the mercury-free sphygmomanometers when the latter are used for routine diagnostic purposes?
- Is SCENIHR aware of any adverse effects for patients' health due to the replacement of mercury-containing sphygmomanometers by mercury-free alternatives?