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The Office of Environmental Health and Safety strongly urges departments to reduce the use of mercury and mercury containing devices, thereby eliminating ECU as a source of future environmental contamination. Mercury presents a persistent threat to the environment. It has been targeted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as one of the top Persistent Bio-accmulative Toxic (PBT) chemicals to be reduced on a global level. Elemental mercury spills have the potential to expose employees and students to hazardous mercury vapors and cause inconvenience through remediation. The typical household mercury thermometer contains enough mercury in it to contaminate a 20-acre fish pond.
Mercury-containing devices are used in many ECU departments. Mercury thermometers are commonly encountered, but other devices include manometers, sphygmomanometers, barometers, and electrical components containing mercury can also be found. They are easy to use, relatively inexpensive, accurate, and reliable. Unfortunately, they are also fragile, increasing the likelihood of a mercury release if the devise is broken. EH&S is providing the following recommendations and goals in reducing the use of mercury and mercury containing devices at ECU:
Sources of mercury that should be replaced with listed alternative devices as soon as financially possible:
Sources of mercury that should be replaced with listed alternative devices as soon as possible or at the end of service life:
To reduce ECU's environmental impact, EH&S has set the following goals for East Carolina University to reduce mercury:
It will be each department's responsibility to replace mercury-containing thermometers. Each department should budget and plan for the funding necessary to purchase the mercury free alternatives. To assist with these replacements, Fisher Science Education, in conjunction with Ever Ready Thermometer Co., Inc. (ERTCO), is offering a program to help customers dispose of mercury thermometers presently in US schools. This program consists of the opportunity to trade in a mercury thermometer or sling psychrometer to be properly disposed of and reclaimed by ERTCO for each non-mercury thermometer or sling psychrometer purchased from Fisher Science Education. Information about this exchange program can be found at mercexchange.
For more information or questions, contact EH&S at 328-6166.