Steering Away from Mercury Hazards

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 dwelling include mercury.


Mercury is a component that happens naturally as a silver-colored liquid (therefore the out of date identify quicksilver). It will possibly evaporate, turning into an invisible, odorless, poisonous vapor. Publicity to elemental mercury is normally the results of breaking merchandise and units that include it. When mercury combines with inorganic chemical substances, it kinds salts which are utilized in images and as a wooden preservative and fungicide. Mixed with natural chemical substances, it kinds 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 essentially the most weak to methylmercury, with impacts to cognitive pondering, reminiscence, consideration, language, wonderful 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. Publicity to elemental mercury could cause tremors, temper swings, complications, neuromuscular issues, and diminished psychological operate. Acute publicity might be deadly.

Mercury Security

To assist scale 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 include many other toxic materials). To cut back your private publicity, learn to eat seafood safely; safely deal with and properly recycle any merchandise you already personal that include mercury; and search for mercury-free alternate options to the next merchandise.

Batteries and Bulbs

Since 1996, mercury has been prohibited in america 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 danger throughout use. Nonetheless, they’re a choking risk for small children and if swallowed, could cause critical inner injury and even dying. Button batteries have to be recycled as a result of mercury might 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. When you’ve recycled your previous batteries, think about switching to rechargeables. Mercuric oxide batteries are produced for navy and medical tools that almost all households is not going to encounter.

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

broken CFL light bulb
Sure forms of lightbulbs, together with CFLs, include a small quantity of mercury. Should you break one, you must clear it up fastidiously to attenuate the chance of publicity.

Thermometers and Thermostats

Safely cleansing up a broken mercury thermometer isn’t simple, and there’s little purpose to take the chance. Not all thermometers include 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 shade aside from silver, the thermometer doesn’t include mercury. Even when the liquid is silver, it might not be mercury. You probably have a mercury thermometer, it’s greatest to recycle it and exchange it with a safer choice.

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


Mercury is utilized in LCD screens and displays. It is usually utilized in laptop computer display shutoffs. Televisions manufactured earlier than 1991 might also include mercury switches. These digital merchandise additionally include many different poisonous supplies and shouldn’t be disposed of as rubbish. Though recycling electronics isn’t at all times simple, it’s necessary to take action. TCO Certified expertise merchandise don’t include mercury however might not be obtainable for all of those electronics.

Outdated Stuff

Like many poisonous supplies, mercury use was rather more widespread up to now. Watch out for vintage barometers, clock pendulums, mirrors, vases, and organs. Older electrical home equipment from chest freezers to house heaters could include mercury switches and pilot gentle sensors. Automobiles manufactured earlier than 2003 might also include mercury switches or relays and wheel balancers. These older merchandise could must 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 a whole lot of effort and time, however mercury is a fabric with toxicity extreme sufficient to warrant excessive warning.


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