It’s a little odd, maybe, that a lot of the icons for temperature in this digital age still involve a mercury thermometer. If there’s heat wave coming, the cartoon stock image shows red liquid spurting out of the top of a thermometer. If it’s cold, the liquid is blue and little icicles dangle from the bottom.
The thing is, those mercury thermometers aren’t just technologically passe, they’re a potential health and environmental hazard — and a lot of them can be found in thermostats of older homes.
“The small silvery ball in a mercury thermometer can be dangerous if the glass breaks and the mercury is not cleaned up properly,” thermometerguide.com says. “The mercury will evaporate and can contaminate the surrounding air and become toxic to you and your family. Occasionally serious illness and even death results may occur from exposure to mercury from fever thermometers.”
So, if you want to protect your family and your home, there’s a year-long pilot program that just started in September that makes it easy to dispose of your old thermostats.
Two Kane County Ace Hardware stores are among the 36 businesses in Illinois that are taking part in the thermostat collection pilot programs sponsored by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency and the Product Stewardship Institute. We should give those local businesses a round of applause and note their addresses and phone numbers:
- Geneva Ace Hardware, 617 W. State St., Geneva, IL 60134; (630) 208-6600
- Ziegler’s Ace Hardware, 215 N. Spring St., Elgin, IL 60120; (847) 741-5610
Illinois residents and small-business heating and cooling contractors can drop off mercury-containing thermostats at these stores, and in exchange for each thermostat returned, the hardware stores will provide a $5 coupon that can be used at that store.
You can check out this Kane County Connects article about the pilot program for more information, but the gist of it is that far too many older household thermostats contain mercury. Through this program, Illinois EPA and PSI aim to protect public health by increasing homeowner awareness of the need and opportunity to recycle mercury thermostats.
Kane County Recycles is a strong backer of the program, which is a win-win-win for consumers, environmentalists and the business community.
The program builds on the 2010 Illinois thermostat recycling law, an extended producer responsibility law that requires thermostat manufacturers to set up collection and recycling programs for mercury thermostats. The Thermostat Recycling Corporation was created by the industry to collect and recycle mercury thermostats, reducing waste and saving taxpayers and local governments money through decreased waste management costs. Under the program, heating, ventilation, and cooling contractors and service technicians to recycle mercury thermostats, and HVAC wholesalers to serve as collection sites.
Many homeowners, however, are unaware that collection sites exist, where they are located, or how they can recycle their thermostats, and many may not realize the dangers mercury can pose. To promote this special program for homeowners, TRC is offering free collection bins to participating hardware stores, normally a $25 per bin value.
Retailers can sign up for the program by contacting Becky Jayne at Illinois EPA at (217) 524-9642.
SOURCE: Illinois EPA