Resources about Mercury for Child Care Providers
Elemental mercury, a shiny, silver-white metal that is liquid at room temperature, is used in older fever thermometers, compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs), and some electrical switches. Children can be exposed to elemental mercury vapor when products that contain mercury break and expose mercury to the air, particularly in poorly-ventilated spaces.
Mercury can affect the nervous system. Because infants and children are still developing, they are particularly sensitive to the effects of mercury on the nervous system. The following links provide information about the health effects of mercury exposure and steps that can be taken to prevent exposure to mercury in childcare facilities, including what to do when a thermometer or a CFL breaks.
- Do not use mercury thermometers. Learn more about how to tell if there is mercury in a fever thermometer.
- Recycle products that contain mercury.
- If you have a mercury spill:
- When a CFL or other fluorescent bulb breaks
- When a mercury thermometer breaks
- When the amount spilled is more than what's in a thermometer
- Never use a vacuum cleaner or broom to clean. It will spread the mercury.
- Never pour mercury down a drain.
- Health effects
- Mercury in CFLs
- Mercury in thermometers
- Mercury in other consumer products
- Don't Mess with Mercury (U.S. ATSDR)
- Notice from FloridaHealth.gov alerting daycare providers to the potential dangers of mercury spilled from glass thermometers, blood pressure cuffs and other mercury-containing devices (PDF) Exit