Issue Date: April 18, 2011
A Better Fate For Mercury?
I found the noble end to the article about the National Institute of Standards & Technology’s goal to eliminate remaining mercury thermometers from science and industry to be a bit humorous: Mercury from former NIST thermometers is being proudly “repurposed” into compact fluorescent light bulbs (C&EN, March 7, page 34).
It seems to me that the mercury, which has remained safe, contained, and looked-after on the benches of scientists for 20, or maybe even 50, years will amount to a new and more public source of exposure after being distributed in a consumer product that will undoubtedly be more frequently broken, improperly cleaned up, and disposed of incorrectly. I understand NIST’s goals, and I see the value of CFL’s, but we should call it as it is. Repurposing? More like dispersing.
Christopher S. Palenik
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