IT’S A shimmery, shiny substance that seems to have a mind of its own when held between one’s fingers. In the Philippines, it is commonly found in thermometers that are widely used in hospitals to check on patients’ temperatures or are sold over the counter for household use. Other medical devices, in fact, still use elemental or metallic mercury — even if this is a known toxic substance that can be absorbed by the skin and can easily penetrate biological membranes, including the blood-brain barrier. When inhaled, mercury vapors can cause neurological and behavioral disorders, and sometimes can lead to death. Even at low doses, these vapors can have harmful effects on the kidneys, and the digestive, respiratory, and immune systems.
NOT TOO long ago, protests were at fever-pitch over how healthcare facilities in the country disposed of their waste. After all, study after study had pointed to an increasing share of healthcare waste in the total municipal solid waste stream. More importantly, that included infectious and hazardous wastes whose then rather haphazard handling, storage, treatment, and disposal had activists and other observers sick with worry about their adverse health and environmental effects.
THEY COME with or without wings, ultra-thin or maxi, regular, extra long, or g-string. One can also have them unscented, but some brands tout scents like lavender and baby powder. There are sanitary napkins with green tea, while others boast of additives such as aloe vera and vitamin E. Recently, a Chinese company launched a sanitary pad that it says contains anions, which purportedly decrease bacteria and even gradually eliminate dysmenorrhea.