While it’s next to impossible for you to get a mercury thermometer in your home, they are still prevalent in some industries. Well, not any more.
Today, Feb. 28, is the last day that the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s 110-year-old calibration service will operate. The service ensures accuracy of mercury thermometers for chemical, pharmaceutical and petroleum groups. Without it, these types of thermometers are all but obsolete.
The closure is part of a calculated phase-out of mercury thermometers by the NIST, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and environmental groups.
Mercury is a highly dangerous material both for humans, as it can cause neurological problems, and for the environment, but it can actually be recycled. The NIST sends mercury from thermometers to light bulb manufacturers who use trace amounts to produce CFLs. One-sixtieth of an ounce of mercury from can make 125 light bulbs.
If you do still have a mercury-containing thermometer, the U.S. EPA suggests disposing of it properly and immediately.