Steering Clear of Mercury Hazards

Steering Clear of Mercury Hazards

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On Mount Olympus, Mercury is the Roman god with energy over commerce and communication and all issues speedy. Mercury is the quickest and smallest planet within the photo voltaic system and the closest to the solar. And right here on Earth, mercury is a substance that may kill you. So it’s troubling to find simply what number of objects in your personal residence comprise mercury.


Mercury is a component that happens naturally as a silver-colored liquid (therefore the out of date identify quicksilver). It can evaporate, turning into an invisible, odorless, poisonous vapor. Exposure to elemental mercury is normally the results of breaking merchandise and units that comprise it. When mercury combines with inorganic chemical substances, it varieties salts which might be utilized in pictures and as a wooden preservative and fungicide. Combined with natural chemical substances, it varieties the extremely poisonous methylmercury, which is the shape found in seafood. Mercury is an environmental pollutant launched by coal energy crops, amongst different industrial sources.

A neurotoxin that may be inhaled, ingested, or absorbed by the pores and skin, mercury has extreme health effects. Unborn infants are probably the most susceptible to methylmercury, with impacts to cognitive pondering, reminiscence, consideration, language, effective motor expertise, and visual-spatial expertise. Adults uncovered to excessive ranges of methylmercury can expertise imaginative and prescient loss, muscle weak spot, and motor impairment. Exposure to elemental mercury may cause tremors, temper swings, complications, neuromuscular issues, and diminished psychological operate. Acute publicity will be deadly.

Mercury Safety

To assist cut back mercury air pollution, discover out if your electricity comes from coal power and if it does, attempt to discover a safer supply — both by a green power program out of your utility or different vitality supplier or by installing solar panels (though these comprise many other toxic materials). To cut back your private publicity, learn to eat seafood safely; the way to safely deal with and properly recycle any merchandise you already personal that comprise mercury; and search for mercury-free options to the next merchandise.

Batteries and Bulbs

Since 1996, mercury has been prohibited within the United States in all batteries besides button cell batteries and mercuric oxide batteries. Button cell batteries are utilized in small digital units like watches and don’t pose a threat throughout use. However, they’re a choking risk for small children and if swallowed, may cause critical inner injury and even loss of life. Button batteries have to be recycled as a result of mercury will be launched when they’re incinerated or landfilled, which is prohibited in some areas. If native recycling isn’t obtainable you need to use a mail-in recycling program. Once you’ve recycled your previous batteries, think about switching to rechargeables. Mercuric oxide batteries are produced for army and medical gear that almost all households is not going to encounter.

Although compact fluorescent lightbulbs are way more energy-efficient and longer-lasting than old style incandescent bulbs, they’re among the many types of lightbulbs that comprise small quantities of mercury. That means they have to be dealt with fastidiously to keep away from breakage; if a CFL bulb does break, it have to be cleaned up fastidiously. Bulbs that comprise mercury can’t be positioned within the trash. They must be recycled. Consider changing CFL bulbs with LEDs.

broken CFL light bulb
Certain sorts of lightbulbs, together with CFLs, comprise a small quantity of mercury. If you break one, you should clear it up fastidiously to reduce the chance of publicity.

Thermometers and Thermostats

Safely cleansing up a broken mercury thermometer isn’t straightforward, and there’s little motive to take the chance. Not all thermometers comprise mercury. If there isn’t a liquid within the thermometer (for instance, digital thermometers and most meat thermometers) or if the liquid in a thermometer bulb is any colour apart from silver, the thermometer doesn’t comprise mercury. Even if the liquid is silver, it might not be mercury. If you could have a mercury thermometer, it’s greatest to recycle it and change it with a safer possibility.

New digital and electromechanical thermostats don’t comprise mercury, and lots of states ban the sale of thermostats that do. But many older thermostats comprise about 3 grams of mercury of their switches. Remove the entrance plate of your thermostat and search for small glass bulbs inside to determine if yours incorporates mercury. The switches don’t pose a threat whereas in use however ought to be disposed of as household hazardous waste.


Mercury is utilized in LCD screens and displays. It can be utilized in laptop computer display screen shutoffs. Televisions manufactured earlier than 1991 can also comprise mercury switches. These digital merchandise additionally comprise many different poisonous supplies and shouldn’t be disposed of as rubbish. Although recycling electronics isn’t all the time straightforward, it’s necessary to take action. TCO Certified know-how merchandise don’t comprise mercury however will not be obtainable for all of those electronics.

Old Stuff

Like many poisonous supplies, mercury use was way more widespread previously. Beware of vintage barometers, clock pendulums, mirrors, vases, and organs. Older electrical home equipment from chest freezers to area heaters might comprise mercury switches and pilot mild sensors. Vehicles manufactured earlier than 2003 can also comprise mercury switches or relays and wheel balancers. These older merchandise might have to be handled as family hazardous waste, go to a specialised recycler, be dismantled by a specialist, or be returned to the producer. Safely disposing of mercury-containing merchandise can require quite a lot of effort and time, however mercury is a cloth with toxicity extreme sufficient to warrant excessive warning.