Concord, NH – The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services announced today that funding has been made temporarily available for the purpose of recycling and replacement of agricultural equipment containing mercury. Although most farmers have replaced their mercury manometers and other equipment with digital devices, the fate of the older mercury containing devices as well as other instruments is unknown. Like manometers, older candy thermometers used by maple producers contain mercury and their large size means they hold considerably more of the toxic element than a standard fever thermometer. Proper disposal and recycling of these instruments is imperative to the health of New Hampshire’s environment and its residents.
Mercury is frequently found in a variety of agricultural equipment- primarily in gauges and switches used to measure temperature, adjust air pressure, or turn electrical devices on and off. Examples include thermometers, milk line vacuum gauges, florescent lighting, and switches for refrigeration units, boilers, automatic fans, and even tractors and cars. Older manometers (the U-shaped devices used to monitor air pressure in automatic milk lines) and candy thermometers (used in maple syrup production) contain the largest amount of mercury found on farms. That is why the NH Department of Environmental Services has started programs to remove these instruments from agricultural areas.
Mercury is a naturally occurring element that has been useful because of its unique property of being a liquid metal at room temperature. Unfortunately mercury is toxic to living organisms. Like other heavy metals it stays in toxic form, continuously building up in our bodies and those of other animals. When disposed of improperly, common devices containing mercury such as those listed above as well as fluorescent lighting and switches and standard fever thermometers, pose a threat to public health and the environment.
Please contact DES for recycling assistance or to exchange your older, mercury-containing device: (603) 271-2047 or (800) 273-9469 or e-mail [email protected]