Mercury running through handsFrom the Thermometer to the Dinner Table

  • When a mercury thermometer is broken, liquid mercury begins to turn into a gas.
  • If the spill is not cleaned up, the gas will contaminate the home.
  • If mercury is thrown in the trash and taken to the curb, it will eventually be burned with the rest of the trash and go into the air.
  • Rain carries mercury from the air to the ground where it flows to a body of water.
  • Bacteria in the water absorb the mercury and turn it into a more dangerous organic type of mercury, methyl mercury.
  • Fish eat the bacteria and it accumulates in their flesh. This is called bioaccumulation.
  • Accumulation of mercury is dangerous because mercury is more concentrated at the top of the good chain. The larger and older the fish, the more mercury it is likely to have.
  • For this reason, it is unhealthy to eat some types of fish more than once a week.
  • Exposure to mercury can cause nervous system damage and birth defects.

Links:

SRCSD - Be Mercury Free (http://www.bemercuryfree.net/)
Periodic Table: Mercury (http://www.webelements.com/webelements/scholar/elements/mercury/key.html)
Mercury the Element (http://www.du.edu/~jcalvert/phys/mercury.htm)
Free Fun Games: Mercury Drops (http://www.yourfungames.com/games/fun/mercurydrops.php)
Greenpeace: Mercury Test Kit (https://secureusa.greenpeace.org/mercury/)