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Mercury Disposal Information

The goal of the Village of Holly’s MERCURY POLLUTANT MINIMIZATION PROGRAM (MERCURY PMP) is to reduce mercury emissions entering our wastewater treatment plant. The goal is to maintain the effluent concentration of total mercury at or below 1.3 ng/l (parts per trillion).

A thermometer contains about 0.5 to 1.5 grams of mercury. ONE GRAM of mercury can contaminate a 20-acre lake with enough mercury to cause public advisory warning to limit consumption of fish caught in that lake. By eliminating even small amounts of mercury you will be helping out the environment.

If you are a Village resident or a commercial/industrial business and trying to safely dispose of mercury, (or any other toxic material) call us @ 248-634-1750 – we will help you out.

To help remove mercury, we will exchange your mercury from homes in the Village of Holly. Residents may turn in their mercury-bearing thermometer for a new digital thermometer for free.

Why should I be concerned about mercury?

Some of you may remember playing with mercury when you were a child. Its silvery white shimmer was entrancing, and the ability of its glistening mass to split and come back together again was magical. But scientists are now beginning to realize that there is another side to mercury’s wily nature. In fact, it is some of mercury’s most elemental qualities that make it a difficult substance to handle. Mercury is a common element that is found naturally in a free state or mixed in ores. It also may be present in rocks or released during volcanic activity. However, most of the mercury that enters the environment in Michigan comes from human uses.

Because mercury is very dense, expands and contracts evenly with temperature changes, and has high electrical conductivity, it has been used in thousands of industrial, agricultural, medical, and household applications. It is estimated that half of the anthropogenic mercury releases in Michigan are the result of the purposeful use of mercury. The other half of mercury emissions originate from energy production. Major uses of mercury include dental amalgams, tilt switches, thermometers, lamps, pigments, batteries, reagents, and barometers. When these products are thrown in the trash or flushed down a drain, the mercury does not go away.

The good news is that the majority of products that use mercury purposefully have acceptable alternatives. For example, electric vacuum gages, expansion or aneroid monitors are good alternatives to mercury blood pressure monitors. Mechanical switches, magnetic dry reed switches, and optic sensors can replace mercury tilt switches. Replacing mercury-laden products with less toxic alternatives is referred to as source reduction. Source reduction allows us to eliminate the use of mercury in certain waste streams. This is especially beneficial considering the volatile nature of mercury, because mercury can so easily transfer from air to soil to water.

Practicing source reduction in combination with recycling the mercury already in the waste stream can have a significant impact on reducing mercury levels in the environment.

Health effects of elemental mercury

The toxicity of mercury has long been known to humans. Hat makers during the 19th century developed symptoms of shaking and slurring of speech from exposure to large amounts of inorganic mercury, which was used to give a metallic sheen to felt hats. This gave rise to the term “mad as a hatter.” The hat makers were suffering from neurological damage from the inhalation of mercury fumes. Exposure to elemental mercury vapors can cause acute respiratory problems, which are followed by neurological disturbances and general systemic effects. Acute exposure to inorganic mercury by ingestion may also cause gastrointestinal disturbances and may affect the kidneys.