*Figures taken from Purdue University and NEWMOA (Northeast Waste Management Officials' Association) Mercury in Products database.
How You Can Keep Mercury from Rising
Avoid Buying Products with Mercury
Most products have a mercury-free alternative:
- Fluorescent bulbs — All fluorescent bulbs contain mercury. Some brands may contain less, and may be
marked with green endcaps or labeled low-mercury. Fluorescents are still a good choice for reducing mercury in the environment, because their use saves
energy. Coal-fired power plants release a lot more mercury into the environment than broken fluorescent bulbs. Recycle fluorescent bulbs by bringing them to a hazardous waste collection site.
— Most thermometers sold locally are
mercury-free. Choices include
digital, alcohol (usually a red
liquid), solar, and card
thermometers. Not sure if your
thermometer contains mercury? Look
for the SILVER mercury inside - not
red, blue, or purple. (Digital
thermometers do not contain liquid
- Thermostats — The older, round thermostats have a mercury switch inside. You can replace them with a programmable, electric thermostat, which does not contain mercury.
- Dental fillings — The amalgam used for dental fillings can contain 50% mercury, 25% silver, and 25% a mixture of copper, zinc, and tin. Ask your dentist about alternatives.
Dispose of Mercury Products Responsibly
Take unwanted household products containing mercury to
HazoHouse at the Thurston County Waste and Recovery Center. HazoHouse is
open daily. This service is free to households,
but businesses must register and pay a fee (call 360-867-2491). Do not break fluorescent bulbs*; transport them in their original boxes if possible. Place
thermometers in their original containers, too, or in two zip-lock plastic bags.
Learn to Clean Up Mercury Spills
Avoid breathing vapors or touching broken materials.
Do not vacuum or sweep.
- Open windows to vent vapors for at least 15 minutes.
- Use stiff paper or cardboard to pick up large pieces.
- Use duct tape to pick up small pieces and powder.
- Wipe the area clean with a damp paper towel or wet wipe.
- Place all materials in a sealed container.
- Wash your hands.
- Dispose of at
HazoHouse — not in your trash. When you change a bulb, cover the flooring with a sheet of plastic.
Follow Fish consumption Advisories
People are often exposed to mercury by eating contaminated fish.
The mercury in fish has been converted to methylmercury, which is more toxic than the element found in household products. Unborn children are most at risk from methylmercury poisoning.
The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) has issued fish consumption advisories for Lake Whatcom, Eagle Harbor, Lake Roosevelt, and Sinclair Inlet
due to mercury contamination. None of these sites are in Thurston County. Budd Inlet does have a warning not to harvest seafood due to creosote and other chemicals.
When DOH issues a statewide fish advisory.
This advisory warns women of childbearing age and children under six not to eat any shark, swordfish, tilefish, king mackerel, or tuna steak due to mercury
contamination. Guidelines for the amount of canned tuna that women of childbearing age and children under six can safely eat are based on how much a
person weighs. For example, a 135 pound young woman should eat less than one 6 ounce can of tuna per week, and a five year old child who weighs about 45 pounds should eat no more than two tablespoons of canned tuna per week.
For more information on fish advisories, see the WA State Dept of Health, Fish Facts for Nutritious Health, or call 877-485-7316.
For additional information, click on any of the links below: