Friday, May 14, 2010

What is mercury and what are the risks?

Mercury—also know as quicksilver—is a naturally occurring element that does not break down. It is found in very small amounts in oceans, rocks, and soil. Mercury becomes airborne when rocks break down, volcanoes erupt and the soil decomposes. It then circulates and is redistributed throughout the environment.

Mercury metal has many uses. Because of its high density, it is used in barometers and manometers. Due to its high rate of thermal expansion, which is fairly constant over a wide temperature range, mercury is commonly used in thermometers and thermostats. Mercury is used as an electrical contact for switches, and it conducts the charge in fluorescent lamps. Plus, mercury-vapor lamps—which emit light rich in ultraviolet radiation—are used for street lighting, in water treatment plants as a disinfectant, and in tanning beds.

Although mercury is one of the most useful heavy metals found in our daily lives, it is also one of the most deadly. When carelessly handled or improperly disposed of, mercury gets into drinking water, lakes, rivers and streams, posing a critical threat to human health, as well as the environment. Recent studies have linked mercury exposure to increased risk of heart attack in men, to mental retardation and neurological disorders in children, and dangerous levels of mercury in the blood of women of childbearing age.

If not properly recycled, mercury is not only a threat to our quality of life, but it can also be a significant threat to the overall health of your business. Local and state environmental regulations and EPA enforcement of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) and the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA), regulate the generation, treatment, storage, handling, clean-up, transportation and disposal of hazardous wastes, including products which contain mercury. Additionally, we must all take the initiative to properly recycle mercury-containing products.

Brad Buscher
Chairman and CEO
VaporLok Products LLC

No comments:

Post a Comment