Mercury is a natural element found in the earth’s soil, water, and air and has been used in the manufacturing of appliance switches, thermometers, some forms of light-bulbs, and select pharmaceutical applications and medical devices. Mercury is also found in coal and when burned, it is released into the atmosphere and the environment. Mercury is considered hazardous so proper treatment of products – natural or manufactured – that contain this substance is essential.
Exposure to mercury needs to be taken seriously – especially if your business uses the substance for manufacturing or energy production. Mercury that is released into the environment ultimately finds it way to local water sources where it poisons the water and is consumed by native fish and plant life. When fish from contaminated water sources are consumed by human, mercury poisoning occurs. The EPA releases annual reports on local fishing advisories and mercury contamination to alert the public to problems that may be occurring in their area.
Being exposed to mercury can harm the brain, lungs, kidneys, heart, and immune system of all people – especially when exposed to higher-levels. While occasional exposure to fish tainted with mercury is unlikely to cause health problems in healthy adults, those who work daily with the substance – either in manufacturing or disposal – need to take safety precautions.
WasteCare Wants You to Remember: Mercury is a hazardous substance and needs to be treated as such in all manufacturing and disposal operations. If your business is involved in mercury, make it your business to keep your employees and the environment safe.