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Mercury and Schools Introduction. Outline By the end of this activity you will learn: What mercury is Why mercury is dangerous Where mercury is found.

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Presentation on theme: "Mercury and Schools Introduction. Outline By the end of this activity you will learn: What mercury is Why mercury is dangerous Where mercury is found."— Presentation transcript:

1 Mercury and Schools Introduction

2 Outline By the end of this activity you will learn: What mercury is Why mercury is dangerous Where mercury is found How mercury gets into the environment What we can do to stay safe

3 Acknowledgement This program has been made possible by a generous grant from the Environmental Protection Agencys Persistent, Bioaccumulative, and Toxic Pollutants (PBT) Program. Region VI staff: Ruben R. Casso PBT/Toxics Coordinator Donna Cooper Project Manager

4 Mercury is………… A heavy metal Naturally occurring, found in cinnabar –mined in Spain, Algeria, Kyrgyzstan & China –Found in coal, oil & natural gas Highly toxic to humans & other living organisms Endangers the environment

5 Characteristics of Mercury (Hg) Element - never breaks down Liquid at room temperature Expands and contracts uniformly with changes in temperature. Conducts electricity Mixes easily with other metals

6 Characteristics of Mercury Evaporates at room temperature Travels long distance when volatilized Is extremely dense Kills bacteria and fungi

7 Harmful Impacts

8 Mercury at Home & School Thermometers Switches Appliances Batteries Cars Fluorescent Bulbs Some Computers

9 Mercury Exposure Metallic Mercury vaporizes into the air at room temperature. The vapors present an immediate health risk to everyone spending a significant amount of time in a room where mercury has been sprinkled or spilled on the floor, or where open containers of mercury are present.

10 Mercury Exposure Hat makers: One hundred years ago, their behavior was considered eccentric. They used felt (mixed with mercury) in the manufacturing of hats. Mercury absorbed into their bodies. The Mad Hatter in Alice in Wonderland

11 Mercury Exposure Metallic mercury and its vapors are extremely difficult to remove. The vapors accumulate in walls and other articles in contaminated rooms. The contamination can remain for months or years.

12 Mercury Exposure Mercury can accumulate in electronic equipment especially computers. When the computer is turned on, the mercury re-vaporizes. This cycle of metallic mercury has been seen in incidents in schools.

13 How Does Mercury Get Into the Air? Mercury is found Fossil Fuels especially coal 54% electricity in the US comes from burning coal When coal is burned, Mercury is released into the air

14 How Does Mercury Get Into the Air in the USA?

15 Water Cycle InfiltrationEvaporation Condensation Precipitation Groundwater

16 From Mercury to Methylmercury In water, (streams, lakes, rivers, oceans) Mercury is transformed to a very TOXIC FORM Mercury Bacteria and Chemical Processes Methylmercury

17 = Methylmercury

18 Bioaccumulation & Methylmercury = Methylmercury

19 Food Chain & Bioaccumulation in Humans

20 Fish Advisories Fish advisories tell people how much fish is safe to eat. Mercury is especially dangerous to fetuses, and to all growing children. So its important to not eat too much of the larger fish (High on the food chain)

21 You Can Prevent Mercury Pollution Educate yourself and others Buy mercury-free alternatives Keep mercury OUT of the garbage Conserve electricity

22 In this section we discussed: What mercury is Why mercury is dangerous Where mercury is found How mercury gets into the environment What we can do to stay safe

23 Mercury in Schools Where to Look & What to Look for

24 Outline By the end of this activity you will learn to find Mercury in school related areas: Science, Chemistry, Physics & Biology Classrooms Nurses Office Electrical And Heating Equipment

25 Science, Chemistry, Physics & Biology Classrooms Check for: metallic mercury, mercury compounds, thermometers, barometers or other devices that may contain mercury Metallic mercury may have settled in sink traps.

26 Science, Chemistry, Physics & Biology Classrooms Why? They were used in various experiments. They may still be in a cabinet or chemical closet.

27 Science, Chemistry, Physics & Biology Classrooms Alternatives: Other chemicals can be used in class experiments to illustrate science or chemistry principles Alcohol or electronic thermometers are readily available and accurate

28 Science, Chemistry, Physics & Biology Classrooms Possible Actions Make sure any mercury, mercury compounds, or thermometers are in non-breakable containers Items should be collected by school engineering and/or janitorial staff, held in secure area prior recycling them

29 Science, Chemistry, Physics & Biology Classrooms Possible Actions If mercury devices will not be replaced, obtain spill kits for the science classrooms and storage rooms Make certain that several staff members are trained in proper spill control procedures Buy mercury free alternatives

30 Nurses Office Check for thermometers, blood pressure measuring devices (sphygmomanometer), nasal spray and contact lens solution. Metallic mercury may have settled in sink traps

31 Nurses Office Why? Mercury thermometers are used to check body temperature. Sphygmomanometers can contain several pounds of mercury. Nasal spray and contact lens may contain thimersol (an ingredient that has mercury in it.), phenyl mercuric acetate or phenyl mercuric nitrate.

32 Nurses Office Alternatives: Alcohol or electronic thermometers are readily available. Aneroid blood pressure devices are available, shock resistant and effective. Many brands of nasal spray and contact lens do not contain mercury.

33 Nurses Office Possible Actions Make sure any mercury, mercury compounds or thermometers are in non- breakable containers. Items should be collected by school engineering and/or janitorial staff and held in secure area prior to recycling them.

34 Nurses Office Possible Actions If mercury products will not replaced, obtain a spill kit for the nurses office Make sure that nurses are trained in proper spill control procedures Use up existing stock of nasal spray or contact lens solutions then buy mercury free alternatives

35 Electrical & Heating Equipment Check for thermostats, silent light switches and disposal/management of fluorescent light bulbs

36 Electrical & Heating Equipment Why? Thermostats are used to control the temperature in buildings. Approximately 75% of thermostats in use today contain mercury. Many silent light switches contain mercury. Fluorescent tubes in overhead lighting contain a minute amount of mercury but their total can be significant.

37 Electrical & Heating Equipment Alternatives: Electronic thermostats and non-mercury switches are widely available Fluorescent bulbs should be recycled rather than thrown out

38 Electrical & Heating Equipment Possible Actions Place stickers (designed by students) on any mercury thermostats or silent switches that indicate: –This device contains mercury –When this device is disposed, the mercury should be recycled –When purchasing a replacement, a mercury free model should be chosen

39 Electrical & Heating Equipment Possible Actions Notify purchasing department and specify mercury free thermostats or light fixtures when replacing. Many HVAC contractors will recycle mercury thermostats. 664#find

40 Electrical & Heating Equipment Possible Actions Your school should recycle fluorescent bulbs by replacing them in their original box in a safe, secure storage area until they are collected by a recycling contractor.

41 Which Lamps Contain Mercury? Fluorescent lamps Mercury vapor lamps Metal halide lamps High pressure sodium lamps Neon lamps High intensity discharge lamps

42 In this section we discussed: Where to find Mercury in school related areas: –Science, Chemistry, Physics & Biology Classrooms –Nurses Office –Electrical And Heating Equipment

43 Mercury At Home

44 Outline By the end of this activity you will learn: Types of Uses or Releases of Mercury From Households % of Mercury in Households How to Hunt for Mercury at Home Opportunities to Use Mercury Free Electric Lamps

45 Types of Uses or Releases From Households Fluorescent lamps Appliance switches (chest freezers, washing machines) Automotive switches Thermostats Button batteries Light switches Thermometers Dental fillings

46 % of Mercury in Households

47 Hunt for Mercury at Home Share information about mercury with your family Family members may be able to help you identify products that contain mercury You do not need to throw out all the mercury-containing products that you find Use common sense, recycling, safety and pollution prevention before taking action Buying smart is a great way to prevent pollution!

48 Hunt for Mercury at Home ProductDescriptionWhat To Do Mercury-Free Alternative Thermometers Silver Liquid in tube Bring to household hazardous waste facility Alcohol or digital thermometer Thermostats All non-electronic models When it needs replacing, recycle Electronic Set back models can help save on energy bills Fluorescent lights Light bulbs in the form of long or curved tubes Continue to use these however, recycle them at the household hazardous waste facility None, although some newer bulbs have less mercury than others Old Alkaline Batteries Bought before Check expiration date Bring to household hazardous waste facility Rechargeable batteries

49 Hunt for Mercury at Home ProductDescriptionWhat To Do Mercury-Free Alternative Mercurochrome An old fashioned antiseptic for cuts and scrapes Bring to household hazardous waste facility New antiseptics do not contain mercury Maze Toys Contain bead of mercury Bring to household hazardous waste facility Mercury-free games Shoes that light up or make noise Bought between 1991 and 1994 Bring to household hazardous waste facility Sneakers that dont light up Chemistry Sets May contain mercury compounds Bring mercury or mercury compounds to household hazardous waste facility Other mercury- free toys

50 The Use of Mercury Reduced Electric Lamps - An Update Fluorescent Lamps HID Lamps

51 Mercury-reduced Developments Mercury-free fluorescent discharges are available using xenon Efficiency is approximately 30% of a mercury based fluorescent lamp The search continues

52 In this section we discussed: Types of Uses or Releases of Mercury From Households % of Mercury in Households How to Hunt for Mercury at Home Opportunities to Use Mercury Reduced Electric Lamps

53 What to Do in case of Spill

54 Outline By the end of this activity you will learn to follow mercury spill procedures in case of : –Less than or equal to the amount in a thermometer –More than the amount in a thermometer –Greater than one pound (two tablespoons)

55 Spills: Less than or equal to the amount in a thermometer Remove everyone from the area. Remove all jewelry. Sprinkle powdered sulfur over the spill. Put on rubber or latex gloves. Place all broken sharp objects on a paper towel. By using squeegee or cardboard, sweep slowly to gather mercury beads. Use an eyedropper to collect or draw up the mercury beads. Slowly and carefully squeeze mercury onto a damp paper towel. Place the paper towel in a sturdy plastic bag and secure/seal.

56 Spills: Less than or equal to the amount in a thermometer Place all materials (including gloves) used with the cleanup in a trash bag, label and secure. Contact your local health department or your local fire department. Keep a window open for 24 hours after your successful cleanup. Continue to keep pets and children out of cleanup area. If sickness occurs, seek medical attention immediately. Sprinkle sulfur powder on the spill area after cleaning up the mercury. A color change from yellow to brown indicates that mercury is still present.

57 Spills: More than the amount in a thermometer Isolate the area Turn down temperature Open windows Don't let anyone walk through the mercury Don't vacuum Contact a fire department or public health official.

58 Spills: Greater than One Pound (Two Tablespoons) Any time one pound or more of mercury is released to the environment, it is mandatory to call the National Response Center (NRC). The NRC hotline operates 24 hours a day, 7 days per week. Call Note that because mercury is heavy, only two tablespoons of mercury weigh about one pound.

59 Small amount of Mercury (e.g. Thermometer) Use fans for a minimum of 1 hour Call local health department to get disposal instructions

60 Important Telephone Numbers and Links ATSDR General Information National Response Center Mercury Hotline MERCURY LDEQ Local Health Department

61 In this section we discussed: Mercury spill procedures in case of : –Less than or equal to the amount in a thermometer –More than the amount in a thermometer –Greater than one pound (two tablespoons)

62 Contacts Enforcement – Chris Piehler – Recycling – John Rogers – –

63 Websites DEQ EPA Sustainable Hospitals Hospitals for a Healthy Environment Health Care Without Harm Northeast Waste Management Officials' Association cs/about/AboutUs.cfm cs/about/AboutUs.cfm

64 Questions?


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