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NEWS RELEASES
City of Knoxville, Tennessee
Madeline Rogero, Mayor
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For Immediate Release
Thermometer exchange Saturday September 17, 2005 at Safety City

Thermometer Exchange Event
When:
September 17, 2005 from 11 AM to 3 PM
Where: at City of Knoxville Police Department Safety Fair located at Safety City at 165 S. Concord Street

Hazardous Waste Info
September 6, 2005 - Knoxville residents can exchange their mercury thermometers for new, free digital thermometers from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., or as long as the supply lasts, on Saturday, September 17 at Safe City, the City of Knoxville Police Department's Safety Fair. 165 S. Concord Street between Kingston Pike and Sutherland Avenue.

The event focuses primarily on bicycle safety. Participants, accompanied by an adult, bring their bicycles and helmets to ride through a series of skill stations, which helps them practice safer riding habits. Other safety topics covered are passenger and pedestrian safety. In addition, participants are educated in fire safety and are able to tour the fire safety house. During the tour, a fire is simulated using a non-toxic smoke.

Mercury thermometers at this year's event:


  • Up to two thermometers per household may be exchanged at the event.

  • Sponsors of the event are the City of Knoxville, Knox County Health Department (KCHD), the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, City of Knoxville Police Department, and the Safe Kids Coalition of the Greater Knox Area.

  • Mercury thermometers are both an environmental and a health and safety problem. For safety while transporting the thermometers, please bring them in their storage cases. If the case is not available or the thermometer is broken, the thermometer can be brought in a 12-ounce plastic soda bottle with a screw-cap lid.

  • This exchange is limited to mercury thermometers from households; other type of mercury-containing waste such as old non-digital thermostats, barometers, manometers and other household mercury waste or devices should be take to the Knoxville Household Hazardous Waste Center, 1033 Elm St., during regular business hours. The Center accepts wastes from Knoxville and Knox County households.

    Additional information about the Knoxville Household Hazardous Waste Center is available at 865-215-6700 or www.cityofknoxville.org/solidwaste/hazwaste.asp.
  • INFORMATION ON MERCURY

    Mercury thermometers are both an environmental and a health and safety problem. Broken thermometers are a potential source for injury from the broken glass, as well as a chemical hazard from the mercury in the thermometer.

    Mercury has many toxic effects in the body. If a thermometer is broken and not properly cleaned up, tiny droplets of mercury can evaporate over time. When mercury vapor is inhaled, it enters the blood and can damage the brain, spinal cord, kidneys and liver. Children and fetuses are at special risk. Swallowing or touching mercury metal is not nearly as toxic; so if a broken thermometer is cleaned up properly and promptly, people will not be harmed.

    In the environment, mercury falls with rain and snow, contaminating lakes and streams and accumulating in the bodies of fish and wildlife. Natural processes can convert mercury into methylmercury, an even more dangerous form of the metal.

    Mercury was used for many years in thermometers designed for household use because no alternatives were available. However, this is no longer the case. In July 2001, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued a policy statement about the health effects of mercury, urging doctors and parents to stop using mercury thermometers and to dispose of them properly.

    DISPOSAL OF THERMOMETERS

    Thermometers should be brought to a thermometer exchange or the Knoxville Household Hazardous Waste Center in their storage cases. If the case is not available or the thermometer is broken, the thermometer can be brought in a 12-ounce plastic soda bottle with a screw-cap lid.

    In addition to mercury thermometers from households, other types of mercury-containing waste such as old non-digital thermostats, barometers, manometers and other household mercury waste or devices can be brought to the Knoxville Household Hazardous Waste Center, where they will be accepted for disposal during business hours. The Household Hazardous Waste Center is free to residents of Knox County and City of Knoxville residents only and is located at 1033 Elm Street. The Center does not accept material from businesses or residents from outside Knox County. Additional information about the Knoxville Household Hazardous Waste Center is available at 865-215-6700 or www.cityofknoxville.org/solidwaste/hazwaste.asp

    Should a mercury thermometer break, parents and teachers are reminded that they should NEVER use a vacuum cleaner to clean up the mercury. It can cause tiny droplets in the air, increasing the danger of inhalation, both immediately at the site and with any future use of the contaminated vacuum. The State of Tennessee has a fact sheet describing proper cleanup procedures for broken thermometers at: www2.state.tn.us/health/FactSheets/mercury.htm

    ON-LINE RESOURCES ABOUT MERCURY POLLUTION

    American Association of Pediatrics mercury statement
    www.aap.org/mrt/July01.htm

    USGS Mercury in the Environment - Fact sheet that includes toxic effects, risk to people, risk to wildlife, fish advisories, sources of mercury, environments where methylmercury is a problem, and mercury contamination - past, present, and future.
    www.usgs.gov/themes/factsheet/146-00/
    Mercury Contamination of Aquatic Ecosystems
    wi.water.usgs.gov/pubs/FS-216-95
    Mercury Research in the USGS
    minerals.usgs.gov/mercury/

    U.S. EPA Mercury Website - Includes general information, actions, fish advisories, and technical information
    www.epa.gov/mercury/

    Mercury in the Environment - by Environment Canada
    www.ec.gc.ca/MERCURY/EN/bf.cfm

    Mercury in Schools and Homes
    www.mercuryinschools.uwex.edu/mercury/index.htm

    South Florida Restoration Science Forum - Includes: Can control of local sources reduce the risks? How will Everglades restoration affect mercury risks? Can management of water quantity or quality reduce the risks? Tracing foodweb relations and fish migratory habits in the Everglades and mercury toxicity in the food chain. Also related sites.
    sofia.usgs.gov/sfrsf/rooms/mercury/food_chain/
    sofia.usgs.gov/sfrsf/rooms/acme_sics/

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