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Re: Anyone know the chemicals in digital thermometers?

Title: Re: Anyone know the chemicals in digital thermometers?
In an article I wrote in the March 2001 issue of San Francisco Medicine, “Mercury in Healthcare Facilities:  Where It Is and How To Get Rid of It”, I list vendors for non-mercury devices.  

See:  http://www.sfms.org

(If for some reason you can’t get to/find the article in the San Francisco Medicine section, please contact the magazine/webmaster and not me.)

The most hazardous part of the digital thermometers is the battery.  

Also note that mercuric oxide batteries are used in many hospital devices; it is important to look at the battery type used and to remind the public that batteries are hazardous.

The real question however, is, can there be an even less toxic material to register temperature than by using currently-on-the-market batteries – and can that material  meet efficacy standards.  

Digital thermometers are not as harmful as Hg given the minute toxic and potentially irreversible harm that is caused by Hg contamination.  Battery toxins are, at least, in theory, contained in their casing (yea, I know, they do leak, get run over by cars.  . . .)  And too, battery production and disposal is probably more harmful than their use.

There are also electronic and heat-sensitive options for some devices.  I anticipate more non-mercury/less-toxic devices on the market in the future because of demand.

In terms of lifecycle costs, digital is way cheaper simply because one does not have to deal with spills:  regulatory compliance, training, staff time, outside contractor, disposal, paperwork, replacement equipment and sometimes building-related materials.  Batteries, though hazardous, are less volume than a Hg or other haz waste spill – and many types of batteries are potentially recyclable – but most do still end up in the landfill and leach.

See also:  http://www.uml.edu/centers/LCSP/hospitals/HTMLSrc/IP_Merc_BMP.html

   Stephanie C. Davis, BFA, MPA
1497 Hopkins Street #2D
 Berkeley CA  94702-1201
 510/527-8864 Pacific Time

WRR will be closed
       17 May - 4 June 2001

On 5/15/01 1:53 PM, "Buxbaum.Diane@epamail.epa.gov" <Buxbaum.Diane@epamail.epa.gov> wrote:

> Do not want to encourage hospitals to give out what may be as harmful as Hg
> thermometers.
> diane
> Diane D. Buxbaum, MPH
> US Environmental Protection Agency, Region 2
> Compliance Assistance and Program Support Branch
> 290 Broadway, 21st Floor, East
> New York, New York 10007
> 212-637-3919 (fax 212-637-4086)