JEFFERSON CITY — The Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is launching a summer-long effort to rid homes of mercury through nearly 50 mercury drop-off locations across the state.
Drop off sites include the St. Francois County Health Department, 1025 W. Main, Park Hills. Parkland residents may drop off items with mercury, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. Call 573-431-1947 before dropping off your items, and never leave them when the health department is closed.
The DNR is working with fire departments and county health offices to provide drop-off buckets in communities statewide. Private citizens or nonprofit agencies visit these sites and leave mercury-containing instruments, like thermometers, blood pressure cuffs, thermostats or switches.
The department is asking that anyone seeking to dispose of items at these sites prepare the items for drop off by first securing the item in two zip-lock bags and then placing it in a sealed container such as a coffee can or plastic margarine tub. The extra packaging is required to prevent the release of mercury if the item breaks while being transported.
The program does not include compact fluorescent bulbs. A fact sheet detailing the proper disposal of bulbs is available on the department’s website at http://dnr.mo.gov/pubs/pub2273.pdf.
The DNR will collect the dropped off items after the campaign ends on Oct. 22 and will transport them to Jefferson City. A state contractor will then pick up the items and recycle what can be recycled and properly dispose of the remaining items.
Anyone who is uncomfortable with transporting mercury instruments, or who has large quantities of mercury, may contact the department’s spill line at 573-634-2436 to arrange to have items picked up.
Metallic mercury is liquid at room temperature and has no odor. It was once commonly used in thermometers, barometers, switches and blood-pressure measuring devices.
When spilled, some of the metal will evaporate into the air and can be carried long distances. Mercury is toxic when inhaled. Improper clean up with a vacuum, paintbrush or household cleaner increases exposure by dispersing the mercury into the air.
For more information on cleaning up mercury spills, see the department’s website at http://www.dnr.mo.gov/env/mercury-cleanup.htm.
For more information on the mercury roundup, contact the nearest participating agency or the department’s Environmental Services Program at 573-634-2436. Additional information on mercury, including health effects and how to clean up a small mercury spill, is available on the department’s website: http://www.dnr.mo.gov/env/mercury.htm.