How to Reduce Mercury Pollution

How to Reduce Mercury Pollution in 3 Effective Ways

Mercury is an element that does not break down easily. It evaporates and can occupy a large area in the atmosphere, causing global pollution. This element gets into the environment in different ways.

First, 30% of mercury enters the air through natural sources such as volcanoes, soil, or weathering of rocks. But 70% of this element comes from human activities such as medical wastes and the burning of fossil fuel.

When mercury is released in the environment, it settles in water-laid sediments where bacteria convert it into methylmercury, a toxic pollutant that contaminates fish and shellfish. And when you consume fish that is contaminated, you are likely to get exposed to mercury which can get into the bloodstream and damage the brain. 

If you learn how to reduce mercury pollution, you will conserve the environment and reduce health issues related to methylmercury.

Here is How to Reduce Mercury Pollution

1. Purchase mercury-free products

As you know, mercury can have a toxic effect on your health. Even a small amount of mercury can affect the digestive, nervous, and immune systems. Also, it can be a threat to the development and growth of a child in early life.

In this case, it is good to consider mercury-free products. For instance, fluorescent bulbs contain mercury. But some brands have less mercury and can be labeled as low mercury.

However, fluorescent is a good choice for reducing mercury pollution because they are highly energy efficient. This means that they will need less power from coal-burning power plants that release a lot of mercury into the air.

Besides, other products such as thermometers are mercury-free. If you are not sure whether your thermometer contains mercury, check for a silver mercury insider thermometer. Also, it is good to replace your old and round thermostats with electric and programmable thermostats, which do not contain mercury.

2. Dispose of the mercury products effectively

Mercury products are hazardous wastes. When they are placed in the trash, they do not break down. Instead, they find their way into the lakes, rivers, or soil.

That’s why it is advisable not to dispose of mercury-containing products with the regular trash. Instead, contact a local solid hazardous waste collection center for proper waste management.

Also, consider recycling the products to minimize the release of mercury into the environment.

Also read: What caused the great Pacific Garbage Patch?   

3. Clean up mercury spills

Liquid mercury evaporates at room temperatures. And because vapor from mercury has no odor or irritation, it can be challenging to know whether you are breathing it or not.

Thus, if you experience a broken thermometer, blood pressure unit, or barometer, it is good to clean the spills immediately. But cleaning up spilled mercury can be challenging, especially if it rolls into the crevices. 

Here are 2 tips for cleaning mercury spills

1. Never use a bloom or a vacuum cleaner to clean up mercury

The best way to remove mercury spill is by ensuring that it does not cause an impact on the environment. The first thing that comes into many people’s minds when they encounter mercury spills is a vacuum cleaner.

But this is not the best thing to use because a vacuum cleaner will increase mercury exposure into the air. Also, a bloom will break the mercury into small pieces, which can spread in different areas.

Instead, you can consider things such as:

  • Use stiff paper to remove the large pieces.
  • Use a duct tape to collect the mercury powder or small pieces
  • Use a damp paper towel to get rid of the spills

2. Avoid pouring mercury down a drain

Mercury spills need to be cleaned with care. If it gets into the plumbing, it can cause pollution to the sewage treatment plant or the septic tank.

What if mercury spills on the carpet? Cleaning mercury spills on a carpet can be challenging.

In this case, it is good to start by lowering the room temperatures to reduce mercury evaporation. Also, contact a trained professional to perform the cleaning for you.

Also read: Science-based solutions to reduce plastic pollution

FAQs on Mercury Pollution

How does mercury get into the water?

Mercury is a serious threat to water bodies because it is a poison to fish, humans, and wildlife. This element is a global pollutant, and it makes its way into the aquatic system through methods such as:

  • Atmospheric deposition
  • From minerals
  • Mining wastes
  • Industrial wastes
  • As you are aware, mercury gets into the atmosphere through natural sources. But human activities have heavily contributed to mercury emission.

    For instance, industrial activities such as coal-burning power plants can release mercury into the air. The mercury can travel across the lands and settle into the lakes, rivers, and oceans.

    Also, when land is flooded with mercury for an extended period, the element may end up in the water bodies after a rainstorm. Thus, the best way to reduce mercury pollution is to minimize the amount of mercury that gets into the ecosystem.

    How does mercury pollution affect the environment?

    Mercury can cause risks when it gets into the environment. When released in the air, it can hurt animals like fish and amphibians. Research shows that high levels of mercury have been found in the liver of 45 ringed seals. This indicates that mercury pollution has a big effect on the environment.

    Besides, mercury can have an impact on human health. When you consume fish with a high mercury concentration, it can affect your brain. Also, it can have a long-life effect on your children and fetuses. For instance, when a child is exposed to mercury, he may have issues with the nervous system, which can affect memory and language attention.

    How can you remove mercury from the environment?

    Mercury is a harmful substance to the environment. It affects both animals and human beings, and when it gets into the water bodies, removing it becomes a challenge.

    Due to this, you need to perform activities that can minimize the risk of mercury being released into the environment. But the good thing is that scientists have come up with methods of removing mercury from water.

    The techniques include:

  • Coagulation
  • Granular Activated Carbon
  • Lime Softening
  • Reverse Osmosis
  • Mercury is a toxic element in the air, water, and soil. When humans breathe in vaporized mercury, they can encounter health issues. Also, problems may arise when you consume a fish contaminated with methylmercury.

    As you know, human activities are the leading cause of mercury exposure. If you implement the techniques on how to reduce mercury pollution, you will be playing a role in minimizing mercury emission in the environment.

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