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Environment and Conservation to Hold Encore Mercury Swap Event for Tri-Cities Area March 25

Wednesday, March 23, 2011 | 09:53am
NASHVILLE – The Tennessee departments of Environment and Conservation and Health invite Tri-Cities area residents to a second Mercury Thermometer Swap on Friday, March 25, 2011, from 10 a.m. to noon at the Johnson City Senior Center, located at 607 East Myrtle Avenue.
 
Citizens may exchange their old mercury thermometers for new, mercury-free thermometers provided by Environment and Conservation free of charge. Johnson City Senior Center membership is not required to participate. Individuals are asked to bring their old mercury thermometers in secure storage cases. If cases are not available or thermometers are broken, they should be placed inside a 12-ounce plastic bottle with secured screw-cap lids. There is a limit of two new thermometers per household.   
 
The thermometer exchange is limited to household thermometers containing mercury. Other types of waste containing mercury, including old thermostats, barometers, manometers and other devices will not be accepted. These items should be disposed during Household Hazardous Waste collection events, which will be announced this spring.  Please call (615) 532-9265 or visit www.tn.gov/environment/swm/hhw for more information about the proper disposal of Household Hazardous Waste. 
 
In addition to the thermometer swap, department staff will be on hand to provide the public with information about radon. Residents also will have the opportunity to receive a free radon test kit if they are among the first ten attendees at the scheduled event. 
 
“We received such a positive response with our January event, the departments wanted to continue their outreach efforts to educate the public about the dangers of mercury, along with radon exposure,” said Jan Compton, environmental coordinator for Environment and Conservation’s Office of Environmental Assistance. 
 
Mercury Facts
 
Mercury is a toxic substance and mercury thermometers pose both environmental and health hazards. Broken thermometers are potential sources of injury and contamination. If a thermometer is broken and the mercury is not handled properly, the mercury can disperse in the air as vapor – its most dangerous form – and be inhaled. Once mercury enters the bloodstream, it can damage the brain, spinal cord, kidneys and liver. Children and fetuses are at special risk.
 
If a mercury thermometer should break, individuals are advised never to use a vacuum cleaner to clean the mercury spill. The vacuum cleaner can disperse mercury vapor in the air, increasing the dangers of mercury exposure and contaminating the vacuum cleaner. For more information on proper clean-up procedures for broken thermometers, please visit the Tennessee Department of Health’s Web site at: http://health.state.tn.us/Environmental/mercury.htm.
 
Radon Facts
 
Radon is a naturally occurring gas that can seep into homes through cracks and openings in their foundations. It cannot be seen, tasted or smelled, but in concentrated levels radon can pose a threat to human health. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that approximately 70 percent of Tennessee’s population lives in high risk or moderate risk radon areas. According to the EPA, radon is the number one cause of lung cancer among non-smokers and is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States. 
 
The best time to test is during consistently cold weather, usually from October to March. This is the time of year when doors and windows are shut, so test results are more representative of in-home exposure. Radon problems can be fixed by qualified contractors for a cost comparable to that of many common household repairs, such as painting or installing a new water heater.
 
For more information about radon, please visit Environment and Conservation’s Web site at www.tn.gov/environment/ea/radon or contact the department’s Radon Program at 1-800-232-1139 or TDEC.Radon@tn.gov
 
For directions to the Johnson City Senior Center, please call (423) 434-6237 or visit the city’s Web site at http://www.johnsoncitytn.org/index.php?page=home-16
 
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