Schools and Mercury
The following Web sites provide information for school administrators, faculty, staff, local health jurisdictions, and parent groups on how to reduce the hazards of mercury on children's health, avoid chemical liabilities, develop planning tools, and establish collection programs for mercury.
Mercury is used in many items found in schools, such as thermometers, barometers, switches, thermostats, flowmeters, lamps, and laboratory reagents in chemistry and science labs. Two major causes of mercury spills at schools are improper storage and mishandling of these items.
EPA encourages schools to prevent spills by removing all mercury compounds and mercury-containing equipment, and by discontinuing their use. You can find more links on the mercury page of EPA's Healthy School Environment Resources site.
The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry’s site Don’t Mess with Mercury teaches educators and students what to do to make schools mercury-safe zones and helps schools prepare for mercury spills.
“Mercury: An Educator’s Toolkit” is a two-disc DVD and CD package that contains a variety of activities, educational videos, and other information designed to enhance students’ understanding of mercury and its potential health hazards.
Learn How To Promote Safe Mercury and Chemical Management in Schools –EPA's Chemical Management Resource Guide for School Administrators can help your school reduce the use of dangerous chemicals and install safer chemical management practices. The guide will help
- school administrators set policies that protect against dangerous chemical exposures, and
- parents and concerned citizens determine if their children's schools are minimizing potential exposure to dangerous chemicals.
In Spring 2008, EPA introduced at the “Mercury in Our World: Conference on Mercury and Other Hazardous Chemicals in Southeast Asia Schools” in Thailand, three new mercury-specific chemical management manuals for use by schools everywhere.
- An Instructor’s Guide for Trainers on Mercury and Chemical Management in Schools in Southeast Asia (PDF) (65 pp., 4 MB, about PDF)
- Mercury and Chemical Management in School: A Participant’s Manual for School Administrators and Teachers in Southeast Asia (PDF) (72 pp., 4.4 MB, about PDF)
- Mercury and Hazardous Chemicals in Schools: A Manual for Students in Southeast Asia (PDF) (27 pp., 1.8 MB, about PDF)
- Read more about the “Mercury in Our World” Conference (PDF) (36 pp., 1.4 MB, about PDF)
ATSDR Report on Children's Exposure to Mercury. A former industrial building in New Jersey used to manufacture mercury thermometers was converted in 2004 to a children's day care facility. Children and adults at the facility were exposed to residual amounts of mercury. As a result, Congress directed the U.S. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) to further investigate and characterize these kinds of exposures. Read about ATSDR's February 2009 report "Children's Exposure to Elemental Mercury: A National Review of Exposure Events".
Mercury: In Your Community and The Environment (PDF) (49 pp., 798 KB, about PDF) - Use this guide to help your students learn about the health and environmental concerns associated with mercury, find out where it is in their school and homes, and help school officials and family members do something about it. This package contains background materials on mercury for teachers and activities for students.
Mercury in Schools Case Studies - This page includes case studies of typical problems, incidents and cleanups found in schools throughout the United States.
Schools Chemical Cleanout Campaign (SC3) - The SC3 Campaign provides information about how to remove potentially harmful chemicals from schools; emphasize the implementation of preventive programs such as chemical management training for lab instructors and microscale techniques; and raise national awareness of the issue of chemicals in schools.
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry Metallic Mercury Exposure Alert - ATSDR's National Alert about metallic mercury in schools and ritual use of mercury.
Getting Mercury Out of Schools and Communities- NEWMOA (Northeast Waste Management Officials' Association) developed outreach and assistance materials to assist communities in identifying and removing elemental mercury and products containing mercury from schools and from homes.
Mercury in Schools- With funding from EPA, the University of Wisconsin Extension’s Solid and Hazardous Waste Education Center (SHWEC) has developed a mercury in schools project. Key project activities included: creating and maintaining a clearinghouse for information relating to reducing mercury usage, increasing mercury recycling and improving mercury management in schools, and educating students and teachers about eliminating mercury; and conducting workshops for educators and agency staff.
Mercury – Schools Topic Hub- Great Lakes Regional Pollution Prevention Roundtable (GLRPPR) resources about mercury in schools.
Mercury in Necklaces and Jewelry - Information about necklaces with mercury from Mexico that have become popular with kids. Once broken, the amount of mercury from the necklace spilled can warrant a hazardous cleanup response and evacuation. Many states have issued health alerts about these necklaces, the risks they pose to children and schools, and provide pictures of what the necklaces look like.
Pollution Prevention in School and Laboratory Facilities: Lessons Learned from Mercury Reduction - Two-hour, forty-two-minute webcast from workshop held Nov. 17, 2003 covering the risks associated with mercury in schools and ways to eliminate mercury from schools. The workshop was sponsored by EPA in conjunction with National Institutes of Health (NIH), US Dept. of Health and Human Services, University of Illinois -Waste Management and Resource Center, University of Wisconsin Extension Program, and Maryland Dept. of Environment. Real Player (http://www.real.com/)is required to view this broadcast recording and can be downloaded for free.