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SARASOTA COUNTY ENVIRONMENTAL SERVICES Mercury Thermometer Exchange National Pollution Prevention Week September 20-26, 1999 Mark Engel & Lois Rose.

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Presentation on theme: "SARASOTA COUNTY ENVIRONMENTAL SERVICES Mercury Thermometer Exchange National Pollution Prevention Week September 20-26, 1999 Mark Engel & Lois Rose."— Presentation transcript:

1 SARASOTA COUNTY ENVIRONMENTAL SERVICES Mercury Thermometer Exchange National Pollution Prevention Week September 20-26, 1999 Mark Engel & Lois Rose

2 Organization of a Statewide Thermometer Exchange Program 4 FDEP asked city and county governments to participate in a statewide mercury thermometer exchange during National Pollution Prevention Week. 4 Twenty-nine different agencies committed to participate in the exchange: AlachuaBradfordBroward CharlotteCollierColumbia DuvalEscambiaGlades HamiltonHendryHighlands HillsboroughJeffersonLake LeeLevyMelbourne, City of Miami-DadeOrangeLeon Palm BeachPinellasPutnam SarasotaSeminoleTitusville, City of UnionVolusia

3 Organization of a Statewide Thermometer Exchange Program 4 FDEP researched mercury-free thermometer sources and obtained quotes for purchase. 4 FDEP purchased a limited supply of “Geratherm” mercury-free thermometers from RG Enterprises. –Cost = $2.76 each 4 The Geratherm thermometers were distributed to participating cities and counties based on population size. 4 If needed, FDEP provided a disposal service for the mercury thermometers that were collected. –Mercury Technologies International (MTI).

4 Organization of a Statewide Thermometer Exchange Program 4 Developed a press release and other items for agencies to use for advertising and publicity purposes. 4 Developed guidelines for cleaning up spills resulting from broken thermometers. 4 Most importantly……FDEP left the structure and operating details of the exchange program up to each participating agency.

5 Structure of Sarasota County’s Exchange Program 4 Make it convenient - weekdays as well as weekends. 4 Available in all major areas of the county. 4 Week long exchange event -not just one day for a few hours.

6 How About Using Retailers? 4 First thought was to use TARGET stores. 4 Environmentally friendly image. 4 Three locations - south, mid and north county. 4 Managers of each store told us we would have to obtain approval through the district manager. 4 Sounded reasonable... but, we couldn’t get in touch with the district manager. 4 County also had concerns with liability issues- spills & clean-up resulting from thermometers.

7 How About Using County Facilities? ADMINISTRATION BUILDINGS Only in north and south county. Not open on the weekends or evenings. FIRE STATIONS At times they are unmanned. Participants could interfere with emergency vehicle traffic. PARK FACILITIES Not all parks have facilities that are opened to the public. There could be problems with people leaving thermometers after the exchange ended.

8 Sarasota County Libraries Six locations scattered throughout the county. Open on weekdays, nights and weekends. PERFECT!!

9 Using Library Facilities for the Exchange Program 4 Approached the Director of Libraries with the idea to use their six facilities for the mercury thermometer exchange program. 4 We would use our own staff to “man” the exchange locations.

10 4 Immediately given approval to use their facilities for the exchange program and much to our surprise and delite…. 4 The Director offered to have library staff “man” the exchange locations. 4 The Director based this offer on the following: –Their staffs purpose is to assist patrons in anyway that they can. –Saw it as a waste of money to have our staff just sit there, when her staff could do it in conjunction with their daily assignments - checkout desk. –Excellent community outreach opportunity. What Was The Answer?

11 Supplies for the Exchange 4 Mercury-Free Thermometers –“Geratherm” filled with a liquid called galinstan. Special blend of gallium, indium and tin - non-toxic and safer for the environment. –Drawbacks: No instructions came with the thermometers. Unusual shape - couldn’t tell if the thermometer was for oral or rectal use. (Hope it wasn’t for rectal use)! Silver liquid inside looked like mercury.

12 Geratherm Mercury-Free Thermometer

13 Supplies for the Exchange 4 Mercury-Free Thermometers –Sarasota County received 180 Geratherm Thermometers from FDEP and purchased an additional 500 from RG Enterprises for the exchange program. 4 Collection Containers for the Thermometers. –2.5 gallon plastic buckets with removable lids and labels. 4 Mercury Spill Kits. –Single use, purchased from Lab Safety. 4 Booklets - “Mercury Thermometers and Your Family’s Health” - Health Care Without Harm

14 Advertising 4 Press Release –Chose to develop our own using information from the press release that FDEP created. –The County’s Public Information Office sent the press release out to local media sources. Newspapers, Radio, TV Stations 4 Posters –Distributed to pharmacies, Health Depts.


16 Advertising 4 Newspaper Expensive: Ran county-wide (all zones) on the Saturday and Sunday before the exchange program, September 18 & 19. Ad design done by in- house graphic artist.

17 Advertising 4 Real Estate Signs Posted outside and inside of the Libraries. Visible locations - Entrance or front foyer of the Libraries. Weather resistant plastic.

18 Program Instruction Forms 4 Verbally went over instructions with each Head Librarian when we delivered the thermometer exchange supplies. 4 Especially procedures to follow if a thermometers breaks.

19 CONCERNS We didn’t see a whole lot of enthusiasm when we delivered the exchange supplies and spoke to the Head Librarians…….So we thought we had better do something and fast. The exchange program was only 2 days away and some libraries hadn’t even put out their “Real Estate” signs yet advertising the exchange program! T-Shirt Contest



22 Cost for Exchange Program n Thermometers = $4250.80 (1500) = $4140.00 Extra FedEx Charges - $110.80 n Advertising = $2597.87 Newspaper (2 days) - $2287.87 Real Estate Signs (6) - $260.00 Posters (100) - $50.00 n Other = $673.00 Mercury Clean-up Kits, Lab Safety (6) = $79.60 2.5 gallon containers, American Container (6) = $18.00 Plastic Bags - Sandwich Type = $39.90 T-Shirts - American Apparel Designs (55) = $535.50 Health Care Without Harm Booklets (500) = FREE n Disposal = $600.00 5 gallon container (3) = $600.00 TOTAL = $8121.67

23 Problems With Program 4 Our BIGGEST problem was that we ran out of thermometers & we couldn’t keep up with the demand. 4 Concerns with disposal options.

24 Feedback from Library Staff 4 Library staff didn’t want to touch the thermometers. Had the participants put the thermometers in the container. 4 People would come in with multiple thermometers but would only turn in one because we only would give them one back. 4 Some people wanted two types thermometers - oral and rectal. 4 Participants would come in and talk forever about the history of their thermometer(s). 4 Participants couldn’t get the Geratherm Thermometers “shaken back down”. 4 Geratherm Thermometers looked like their old thermometer - they still think they have mercury in them. 4 People still brought in thermometers to the libraries weeks after the exchange program ended.

25 Improvements for this year? 4 Research different types of mercury-free thermometers that would be “easier” for the public to use. 4 Select vendor based on where they obtain their supply of thermometers from and their proximity to Sarasota County. 4 Advertise the exchange more. 4 Place major emphasizes on the reason for the exchange - Health and environmental facts in all media releases. 4 Investigate alternative disposal options. 4 Reduce staff time spent on the exchange program. 4 Solicit large users of mercury thermometers to participate in the exchange program. - – Home Health Care Agencies, Technical Institute., Schools

26 Sarasota County’s Motto If it’s free, they will come…..and bring everyone they know with them.

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