Water Quality District
Mercury Thermometer Exchange
To help reduce the mercury threat in your home & community, you can dispose of your old mercury fever thermometer at Haz Waste Days, in September, and receive a free digital thermometer for each mercury thermometer (up to 2 free thermometers per household). Mercury thermometers are glass, and have a silver temperature display column.
Mercury is a toxic substance that can pollute air and water. A broken mercury thermometer can create hazardous levels of mercury vapor in confined spaces indoors, and can contaminate air, water, fish and wildlife when disposed of improperly! According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the mercury in one fever thermometer can contaminate an entire 20-acre lake, and render any fish there inedible. Mercury fever thermometers add an estimated 4.3 tons of mercury to the environment every year. While they are certainly not the major source of mercury, they are among the easiest sources to eliminate because the mercury in them is easily recovered and recycled, and there are many inexpensive and accurate alternatives. Fluorescent lamps also contain small amounts of mercury, but studies show that their energy efficiency advantage over incandescent lamps saves more mercury from fossil-fuel electric generation than it creates (NRDC, 2003). This advantage is even greater if fluorescent lamps are recycled*. Fossil fuel power plants are the single greatest source of mercury pollution in the environment.
* Recycle unbroken household compact fluorescent bulbs for free at Ace Hardware, Home Depot and Lowes. Recycle business fluorescents or any fluorescent tubes or bulbs inexpensively at Palmer Electric throughout the year.
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