In April 2001, Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura signed legislation that will all but eliminate the sales and distribution of thermometers that contain mercury. This is a wonderful step for the future; however, existing mercury thermometers already in homes require special attention. Inappropriate disposal of thermometers and other mercury-containing devices is a major source of mercury emissions to the environment. Once mercury enters the environment, microorganisms in lakes and rivers convert it to the more toxic methyl-mercury, where it affects fish and wildlife.
Side Effects & Disposal
Mercury can cause neurological damage, affecting the way we think, see, hear, smell, taste, and touch. Most human exposure to mercury comes from eating fish. Pregnant women, women of childbearing age, and young children are at particular risk for mercury exposure. More than 90% of Minnesota lakes and rivers have been tested positive for mercury contamination.
Nationwide, mercury fever thermometers contribute 17 tons of mercury to the solid waste stream annually. Some cooking thermometers and indoor/outdoor thermometers contain toxic metal; these thermometers are also restricted under the Minnesota Law.
Mercury-containing devices such as thermometers, thermostats, and switches are accepted at the Winona County Household Hazardous Waste Facility. If you need information regarding the clean-up of a broken thermometer, please contact Winona County Household Hazardous Waste at 507-457-6462.