Saturday, May 8, 2004

Exchange mercury thermometer



By Matt Leingang
The Cincinnati Enquirer

If you have a thermometer with a silvery ball of mercury inside, now is the time to properly dispose of it.

Hamilton County public health officials have revived a mercury thermometer exchange program. The program encourages people to swap their mercury thermometers for a free digital one.

First tried in 2002, the program collected more than 4,500 mercury thermometers and distributed 3,500 electronic thermometers that year.

County officials opted for a general household waste collection program last year that scooped up paints and pesticides, but the number of mercury thermometers turned in by residents was low.

So the focus is back on mercury. Throughout May, officials hope to distribute more than 5,000 thermometers at 12 exchange sites throughout Hamilton County.

The county spent $10,000 to purchase the thermometers.

Mercury is highly toxic. If released into the environment, mercury from a broken thermometer can cause nausea, shortness of breath and severe headaches. Intense exposure may cause vision, hearing and speech impairment, respiratory problems and even death.

Children are the most sensitive to mercury poisoning.

The Cincinnati Drug and Poison Information Center at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center received 438 calls about mercury thermometers last year. Of those, 266 calls posed general questions about the devices, and 172 dealt with mercury exposures - skin contact, inhalation and ingestion.

"We don't want people to simply throw away their old thermometers once they hear about the dangers of mercury," said Hamilton County Health Commissioner Tim Ingram. "The thermometer may break in disposal."

To help ensure safety, all mercury thermometers should be placed inside two sealed plastic bags when they are brought to an exchange site, Ingram said.

Thermometers can be exchanged 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday through Friday at participating sites.

To locate an exchange site near you, call the Mercury Hotline, (513) 946-7788, or visit www.hcdoes.org/sw/mercury.htm.

E-mail mleingang@enquirer.com




TOP STORIES
Some areas brace, others aren't bugged by cicadas
Downtown festivities won't be deterred
Owners of young trees rush to purchase mesh
Hey, Carl! Got any Reds tickets?
Tot Lot arrests now at four
One-hued wonder is 1 year old today

IN THE TRISTATE
Two suffer minor injuries in boat crash on Ohio River
Clever set design turns stage 'Into the Woods'
Woman shot, boyfriend sought
Lot sizes to limit 'teardowns'
Finding awaited on CPS contract
Campaign censure tabled
Badge passes, father to son
Hamilton home burns
Two teens ill after tattoos
Exchange mercury thermometer
Deaths of former students unsettling at Lemon-Monroe
'Legacy of love' honored
Norwood likely to ask for tax increase
Ohio State trustees increase tuition 13.4%, citing state cuts
Toledo priest denies murdering nun in 1980
Counties get electronic vote OK
Agencies seek $23M tax hike
Bill would ban military-style weapons
Public Safety briefs
News briefs

ENQUIRER COLUMNISTS
Crowley: Clooney leads race so far - in fund-raising
Churches celebrate new homes
Singer releases inaugural album

LIVES REMEMBERED
Sr. Mary Berenice Byron served college library
Mary Cunnick, 84, teacher at Withrow

KENTUCKY STORIES
State worker didn't bother to process checks for $480K
Pence tells Fletcher foes to 'get on board'
Guide shows area at its best
Ludlow plea-bargain case over
Did you witness Norwood UFO?
Ky. News briefs