Do you remember the good old days when you’d stay home sick and your mom would take your temperature with that glass thermometer? She’d shake it first, and then you’d both watch the red line climb the scale before she would promptly put the chicken noodle soup on the stove. Though these memories are fond, that glass thermometer was filled with mercury, and it is now considered a dangerous item to have in your home. If you’re a first time mom, there’s a good chance you don’t have this type of thermometer, considering they are no longer sold. However, you might be one of the new moms that got your thermometer handed down from when you were a child. You should not be using this thermometer on your own baby, because mercury is extremely dangerous to human health. Your baby will be fine if you’ve used it a few times, but there is a high risk that the glass could break and mercury could spread into your home.

Unfortunately, studies show that disposing of your thermometer isn’t as easy as tossing it in the trash. According to research, thermometers that were just thrown in the trash caused mercury “hot spots” to show up in the surrounding area. Since mercury is so dangerous, you’ll need to make sure it is handled by experts and disposed with other bio-hazardous materials. If a human or animal were to come upon these hot spots and touch the mercury or consume it, serious illness or death could occur.

Luckily, digital thermometers are just as effective and accurate as mercury ones, so it’s okay to go digital and never look back. Even if you’re not using the mercury thermometer in your home, it’s a good idea to get rid of it. There could be fatal consequences if you or your child were to accidentally break it and come into contact with the mercury.

Though you might miss those days when life was simple and your mom had to read the numbers on the glass scale to determine your temperature, mercury thermometers are one of the many things from our past that are now considered dangerous. While they were the norm decades ago, experts now recommend that you avoid them at all costs, and keep your child as far from them as possible. Build new memories with your child by using that new plastic, beeping digital thermometer.

Source: Gilbert Kuepouo: Estimating Environmental Release of Mercury from Medical Thermometers and Potential “Hot Spot” Development. Resources, Conservation and Recycling December 2012

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