What is the problem with mercury thermometers?

Just a small amount of mercury is dangerous. One gram of mercury (about what you would find in a thermometer) is enough to poison all the fish in a 20 acre lake. Short and long term contact with mercury can cause serious health problems for humans and animals.

How poisonous is mercury?

Mercury affects the nervous system. It can affect the way we hear, see, talk, walk, and even think. Humans are exposed to mercury through contaminated air, water, food, or through direct skin contact.

Can just one broken fever thermometer be dangerous?

Yes, if the mercury isnt cleaned up properly. If a thermometer is broken, the liquid mercury must be completely cleaned up. If the spill is not completely cleaned up, the mercury can evaporate into the air and is harmful if breathed. Do not use a vacuum or heat the mercury. This increases your chance for mercury poisoning. The best way to avoid a broken fever thermometer is to exchange it for a digital thermometer that does not contain mercury.

What do I do if a mercury thermometer breaks?

Keep all children and pets away from the spill. Call Utah Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222 for instructions on how to clean the spill. Different flooring requires different cleaning methods. Poison Control can help.

I only have one mercury thermometer is that enough to affect the environment?

Yes. If you throw a mercury thermometer into a regular trash can, the mercury will go to a landfill or will be burned. Mercury can seep from the landfill and into streams and groundwater. Burned mercury evaporates and returns to the earth in rain. Both ways can contaminate streams and rivers, making the fish unsafe to eat and water unsafe to drink.

Where can I dispose of a mercury thermometer?

Place your mercury thermometer in an airtight bag and deliver it to the nearest Smiths Pharmacy between June 9th and June 21st, 2003. In exchange, the pharmacist will give you a coupon for 50% off a digital thermometer. If you miss the exchange, Household Hazardous Waste will take your mercury fever thermometers for free. There are two locations to serve you.

Salt Lake Valley Solid Waste Management Facility
6030 West California Avenue (1400 South)
Monday Saturday 8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

Trans Jordan Landfill
10873 South 7200 West
Monday Saturday 8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.