Mercury is an extremely dangerous poisonous compound. If not handled properly, mercury can get into the water supply. Contaminated water is not safe for anyone, but it’s especially harmful for children, pregnant women, and the elderly. Because of this threat, it’s important to educate yourself – as well as your employees or tenants – about the dangers of mercury and ways to prevent it from contaminating drinking water, fish populations, soil, and the air.
Educate Yourself About Mercury to Protect Public Health
When not managed properly, mercury poses a serious threat to public health. The Environmental Protection Agency’s mercury limit in drinking water is 2 parts per billion, since even low quantities are extremely hazardous.
Human exposure to mercury, a heavy metal, can have negative health implications for the brain, heart, and immune system. That’s why it’s important to protect your employees and tenants by recycling mercury products every year.
How to Handle Breakage Safely
A broken CFL light bulb is a health hazard. If one breaks, you should immediately open a window to diffuse mercury vapor and leave the room for at least five minutes. Turn off your heat/air-handling system so it doesn’t carry vapors through your house. Do not use a vacuum to clean up the debris; instead, pick up large glass fragments carefully with a piece of cardboard, using it as a scoop, and then collect any remaining shards of glass or powder with tape. Place all the bits in a closed container and remove from your house until you can recycle the container.
Recycle Your Thermostats and Lamps Properly
Carelessly throwing away mercury products can have serious consequences for the environment. As of 2016, 40 lakes in Oklahoma had fish consumption advisories because of mercury.
To prevent serious public health problems, waste that contains mercury must be disposed of properly. Do not throw mercury-containing waste away in a conventional trashcan.
If you use light bulbs that contain mercury, you should follow a specific process when it’s time to get rid of them. Store them in a closed, dated, and labeled box or cushioned drum to prevent breakage. At a minimum, you should recycle your mercury products every year.
If you need to dispose of products that contain mercury, check out this list of places in Oklahoma that will recycle them for you.