The purpose of this program is to eliminate mercury from households, and to responsibly recycle this mercury through a program by the Rock River Water Reclamation District (RRWRD). Households (non-commercial) can dispose of mercury thermometers at the RRWRD on Saturdays from 8 am to 4 pm, and on Sundays from Noon to 4 pm. Please call the RRWRD at (815) 387-7400 in advance to verify their hours of operation, and to receive further information on what they will accept in the way of other hazardous household wastes for proper disposal and recycling.
Mercury is an extremely toxic material which is listed by the Environmental Protection Agency as one of the top twelve materials that it would like to remove from the environment. Mercury spilled from a thermometer, if not properly removed, is dangerous in bathroom and other areas with little air movement. Inhaled mercury can remain in the body for months, and affect the spinal cord, brain, kidney and liver. It can affect the fetus of an expectant mother. Brief contact with high levels of mercury can cause immediate health effects, including loss of appetite, fatigue, insomnia, and changes in behavior. Other symptoms may include nausea, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, eye irritation, weight loss, skin rashes and muscle tremors.
Mercury is also a hazard when improperly disposed of, as it can get into water and make fish unsafe to eat. By participating in an exchange program, you are not only eliminating a toxic substance from your house, you are also protecting the environment, since the mercury in these thermometers will be properly recycled by the RRWRD.
“We hope individuals take advantage of this opportunity to protect their family and community through this exchange program” added Swacina. For more information, contact the Winnebago County Health Department at 815-720-4000.