|Mercury & Pollution PreventionIn the Event of an Emergency Contact:|
Poison Control: 1-800-222-1222 or Dial 911
Michigan Department of Community Health: 1-800-648-6942
Mercury is identified as a pollutant of concern due to its toxic and bioaccumulative properties. In aquatic systems mercury is often converted into methylmercury (the organic form of mercury) which is bioaccumulated and magnified up the aquatic food chain. This poses a risk to humans and wildlife that consume fish in contaminated waterways and all of Michigan waterways have been classified as mercury contaminated. Steps can be taken to reduce mercury spills and emissions. Studies indicate an increased risk to a developing fetus upon exposure to methylmercury via maternal fish consumption. Elemental mercury is a heavy, silvery-white metal, which is liquid at ordinary temperatures and used in many man-made products (thermometers, fluorescent light bulbs, etc.). At room temperature, elemental mercury evaporates to become an invisible, odorless and toxic vapor. The hazardous route of exposure is inhalation of mercury vapor which is often associated with the inadequate cleanup of broken mercury-containing products. Mercury pollution prevention activities include product design, process modifications and technology changes but the most powerful and simple action is the purchasing of mercury-free alternatives. The programmable thermostat is a simple, affordable P2 substitute for the older mercury-containing devices. In instances where no viable mercury-free alternative exists, such as in fluorescent lamps, employing best management practices is the preferred approach. Recycling of all non-essential mercury containing devices protects the environment. Additional information regarding recycling sites is listed below under Disposal.