Mercury in Schools


Mercury is a silver-colored metal that is liquid at room temperature.  Significant quantities of mercury can be found in thermometers, thermostats, automotive switches, mechanical systems (HVAC) switches, science labs.  Items such as fluorescent tubes and compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs) also contain small amounts of mercury

Elemental (metallic) mercury can be very toxic to the brain and nervous system.  It primarily causes health effects when it is breathed as a vapor where it can be absorbed through the lungs.  These exposures can occur when elemental mercury is spilled or products that contain elemental mercury break and expose mercury to the air, particularly in warm or poorly-ventilated indoor spaces.  In addition, cleaning up a mercury spill can be very costly.  Schools can prevent spills by removing all mercury compounds and mercury-containing equipment, and by discontinuing their use. Many states prohibit use of mercury in schools.

Case Studies about Mercury Cleanups at Schools

EPA Information about Mercury

Don't Mess with Mercury - A Mercury Spill Prevention Initiative for Schools (ASTDR)

Mercury Spill Response Information (WI)

Mercury in Schools (FL)

Mercury: Control, Contamination and Reduction (NV)

Educational video showing Mercury, safe student procedures, and a dog that sniffs low levels of mercury!

Links on Mercury from the Northeast Waste Management Officials' Association (NEWMOA)

Order a free video from the Florida DEP

Mercury Spill in Texarkana

The Quicksilver Mess