Banned in Boston: mercury thermometers

Nov. 17, 2000
Mercury thermometers have been banned in Boston. The City Council unanimously approved Wednesday an ordinance prohibiting the sale and distribution of old-fashioned thermometers in Boston because of environmental concerns.

BOSTON, Nov. 16 (UPI) — Mercury thermometers have been banned in Boston.

The City Council unanimously approved Wednesday an ordinance prohibiting the sale and distribution of old-fashioned thermometers in Boston because of environmental concerns.

"Mercury thermometers are broken all the time, in classrooms and homes," Councilor Francis Roache, who sponsored the measure, said in Thursday's Boston Globe. "And when they aren't disposed of properly, they can do serious damage."

Studies have shown that a 1 gram of mercury contained in a standard household thermometer can contaminate up to 5 million gallons of water if it finds its way into lakes and streams. Some 17 tons of mercury from thermometers are expected to wind up as municipal waste this year across the nation, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Although more people have been switching to digital thermometers, old-fashioned mercury thermometers are still found in many homes and stores.

The ban takes effect next month. Stores and pharmacies in the city have 60 days to remove mercury thermometers from their shelves. Violators could be fined $700.

A bill to ban such thermometers statewide is before the Legislature. New Hampshire has already approved such a ban.

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