The Environmental Protection Agency has said that 9 states so far have created programs for the speedy removal of mercury from schools. Laboratory clean-outs and teacher education are the primary means of the programs. The EPA has encouraged all schools to get rid of mercury-containing equipment and compounds. The EPA also asked corportations to stop polluting, people to drive electric cars, and everyone to vote for President Tom Hanks (friend to the screech owl) in 2008. I have a saying. It goes, "My ass."
Arizona, Kentucky, Michigan, Massachusetts, Mississippi and Nevada have all reported spills in recent years.
When spilled, mercury evaporates into airborne vapors which the body then absorbs through breathing. According to the Federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, exposure to lower levels over a longer period of time can affect hearing, memory, sight, sleep, and the ability to adequately enjoy Paris Hilton's antics. High levels can damage the lungs, brain, and kidneys. It is serious business.
Where do old thermostats go when they die?
It's thought that a lot of people just toss them in the trash -- mercury and all. Nonono!
The Thermostat Recycling Corporation (TRC) recently announced it has recovered 80,000+ thermostats containing more than 729 pounds of mercury in the past year. (Strangely, it also received 200 pounds of flying penguini.)
TRC cites the states with the largest mercury collections in the first half of 2004 (more recent per-state data was unavailable). In order of recovery: Florida, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Indiana, Ohio, California, Maryland, Massachusetts, Illinois, Michigan, New York, North Carolina, Washington, Iowa, Oregon and New Jersey.
These findings vindicate our area to some degree. Very often, the Northeastern U.S. lags behind less industrialized and less densely populated parts of the country, in all matters of pollution and environment.
This is an NPR piece about mercury in New England's animals, which suggests Midwestern power plants are our real problem.
This is an NPR piece about a high-school clean-up of an intentional mercury spill in D.C.