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Air Indoor Resources - Mercury

Mercury Elimination In Florida Schools

Hazardous materials in schools have received national attention; in particular, the risk that mercury vapors pose in a school environment. Exposure danger lurks when mercury–containing items are not eliminated from schools or when liquid mercury is brought to school by students who are unaware of the risk of mercury exposure. However, such dangers can be avoided through mercury awareness/outreach efforts and elimination of mercury devices before a mercury release occurs at your school.

The Florida Department of Education prepared the following fact sheet titled, The Danger of Mercury in Schools (PDF) to alert schools that children brought liquid mercury to school. Liquid mercury is a novelty for children to play with; however they do not realize the danger from inhaling mercury vapors. California, Nevada, and Arizona have determined that the major source of mercury releases in their schools have occurred from children bringing mercury to school and not from sources found in their schools.

However, mercury can be found in a number of locations throughout a school building, such as laboratories, nurse’s office and facility building equipment to include various types of lighting systems.

Common mercury-containing devices and the approximate amount of mercury:

  1. Button Cell Batteries contain approximately 25 mg or more before 1996
  2. Electric Switches and Relays
    • Float controls in septic lifts and sump pumps contain approximately 2 grams.
    • Automobile trunk/compartment lights contain 0.6 to 1 gram.
    • Tilt switches on washer and freezer lids before 2001 may contain 3.5 grams.
    • Fire alarms and safety valves and other facility equipment.
  3. Fluorescent Lamps
    • High Density Discharge Headlamps contain 20 to 250 mg
    • Tubes contain 4-50 mg.
    • Compact bulbs, 4-8 mg.
  4. Gauges (quantity of mercury varies with size and age
    • Blood pressure instruments
    • Barometers
    • Manometers
  5. Thermostat
    • Ampoules contain approximately 3 grams per switch
    • Probes in pilot light for ranges, ovens, dryers, water heaters, and furnaces
  6. Thermometers
    • Fever contain approximately 0.5 mg
    • Laboratory contain approximately 3 or more

State Web sites on Mercury

EPA Table of Products That May Contain Mercury and Recommended Management Options

Contact Information

Wendy Murphy
325 West Gaines Street
Suite, 1054
Tallahassee, FL 32399
Phone: (850) 245-9295