Michigan Releases Three New Videos about Dangers, Prevention of Mercury Spills

Contact: Angela Minicuci (517) 241-2112

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 4, 2013

LANSING – After the previous release of five informational videos about mercury, the Michigan Departments of Community Health (MDCH) and Environmental Quality (DEQ), along with Michigan State University (MSU), have released three new videos. The videos were produced with grant funding from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Great Lakes Restoration Initiative to educate Michiganders about the danger of mercury spills.

While there are state laws that restrict the sale and certain uses of mercury in Michigan, spills do occur. Household items containing mercury, such as old fever thermometers and thermostats, can break, releasing the silvery liquid and creating a health risk.

“The vapors given off by mercury can’t be seen or smelled, but are potentially very harmful, especially to children and pregnant women,” said Dr. Matthew Davis, Chief Medical Executive at the MDCH. “Because these vapors can harm the central nervous system and kidneys, and have the ability to cause damage permanently, it’s critically important that Michiganders know what to do to prevent and properly clean up after a mercury spill.”

The videos teach the viewer important techniques for handling mercury, including steps to prevent a spill, how cleanups should be handled, and the dangers associated with contamination. Most mercury spills in homes can be handled by the homeowner, but in some cases may have to be cleaned up professionally. Children and pregnant women should not handle mercury. Spills can be prevented by removing mercury from homes and most workplaces.

MDCH and DEQ encourage recycling mercury rather than putting it in the trash. Household hazardous waste collections often take mercury-containing items for safe disposal. To find out where to get rid of mercury in your area, contact your local health department.

One of the newly released videos includes easy steps for cleaning up a broken compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulb. These bulbs are very popular but they do contain mercury. The amount of mercury in a CFL bulb is about 1/100th that in a mercury fever thermometer and should not harm you or your family if the bulb breaks. The main concern about a broken CFL bulb is the glass.

DEQ was awarded the EPA grant and partnered with MDCH to produce the videos. MSU’s College of Communication Arts and Sciences producer Amol Pavangadkar worked with MDCH to produce the videos.

Get rid of mercury before a spill occurs; it’s not worth the risk. To view these and previously released videos, visit www.youtube.com/michigandch or www.michigan.gov/mercury and click on “More On Mercury”. For more information about mercury, call 1-800-MI-TOXIC (648-6942).

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