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E-M:/ FYI: Lake Superior-wide Mercury Thermometer Exchange

Enviro-Mich message from "TONY DEFALCO" <defalco@nwf.org>

FYI - Kudos to Jamie Harvie, the Western Lake Superior Sanitary District and Health Care Without Harm for this great project!

Today the Western Lake Superior Sanitary District is holding "mercury thermometer round-ups" at nine hospitals around Lake Superior, through a project initiated by the Western Lake Superior Sanitary District and funded in Minnesota by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.

The hospitals - Cook County North Shore Hospital, Lakeview Memorial Hospital, Miller-Dwan Medical Center, St. Luke's Hospital and St. Mary's Duluth Clinic in Minnesota; Ashland Community Hospital, St. Mary's Hospital -Superior, Spooner Memorial Hospital in Wisconsin; and Thunder Bay Regional Hospital in Ontario, Canada - will collect the mercury fever thermometers from their employees, dispose of them as hazardous waste and replace them with new, non-mercury thermometers. Health care staff attending a conference in Marquette, Michigan will also participate.

"We frequently get calls from parents who are concerned about a thermometer they have just broken," said Jamie Harvie, pollution prevention specialist for the District. Thermometer round-ups are a great way for parents to rid their homes of toxic mercury and protect their families. Exposure to mercury can affect the brain, spinal cord, kidneys and liver. It is particularly dangerous to the developing fetus and young children. Not only does the mercury released to the environment result in human exposure, it also contributes to the already high levels of mercury in and around the Great Lakes. "Homeowners should recognize that this program will also offer free non-mercury thermometers to residents who bring in a mercury thermometer to the WLSSD Household Hazardous Waste Facility." This program provides an excellent introduction to Pollution Prevention Week that begins September 20, 1999.

This effort is part of a comprehensive program in place at each of these facilities to eliminate their own use of mercury, not only from obvious sources like thermometers and blood pressure cuffs, but from less recognizable items such as laboratory chemicals.

"We applaud the efforts of these hospitals to address mercury pollution in the workplace and at home," agreed Jackie Hunt Christensen, national co-coordinator of Health Care Without Harm (HCWH). HCWH has produced an informational pamphlet called "Mercury Thermometers and Your Family's Health" which is available at the WLSSD, or the HCWH website www.noharm.org. For more information about how to properly dispose of mercury thermometers and what to do if a mercury thermometer breaks, call the WLSSD Hotline at (218) 722-0761 or the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency at 723-4600 or 800-657-3864.

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