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State Asks Residents to Turn in Mercury

The Missouri Department of Natural Resources is again asking residents to turn in mercury, or any items containing mercury. KSMU’s Ryan Welch reports.

The element mercury, a silvery-white liquid metal, can be poisonous when inhaled, ingested, or touched.

The department is holding a longer campaign this year so people have time to turn in their mercury, unlike last year, when the agency only collected for a month. This year’s campaign began Monday, and will continue until October 22.

Recent mercury spills in Springfield and West Plains did not incite this latest campaign, says Larry Archer from the Field Services Division.

“Those incidents have raised people’s awareness to the fact that they might very well have instruments in their home that contain mercury. Or in some cases, they may just actually have old jars of mercury that they were unaware of and need to dispose of properly. And this is the opportunity for them to do that,” Archer said.

Fact sheets on how to properly dispose of anything with mercury are listed online at the department’s website. The department wants Missouri residents to be able to dispose of their mercury in a safe, economical manner.

There are about 50 fire departments and county health offices throughout the state serving as drop sites for anyone disposing of mercury or mercury items. These items include old mercury thermometers, barometers, and mercury-filled medical gauges and light switches.

For KSMU News, I’m Ryan Welch.

This close up of a tiny Mercury switch is just one of many items that contains mercury that is often tossed to the wayside. (Photo provided by Missouri Department of Natural Resources)