Mercury is that strange element that looks like a liquid metal bead. Many adults played with it as children. Mercury was used in a bunch of household items – fluorescent bulbs, LCD screens, old appliances, batteries, thermometers and barometers – that are now at risk of spilling.
Lauren and Dylan talk with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Oregon Health Authority staff involved in a recent mercury spill in Bend that resulted in damage to the home, cars, furniture and $100,000 in cleanup costs for the homeowners. They help us understand how to respond if mercury does spill in your home to minimize the impact, and then DEQ staff tell us how to safely dispose of any items we own that we know contain mercury.
The voices in the episode are:
- Richard Franklin, EPA Region 10 federal on-scene coordinator for spills.
- Todd Hudson, Oregon Health Authority toxicologist.
- Pete Pasterz, DEQ materials management specialist.
Listen to the podcast on: SoundCloud, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts.
- Summary of the spill situation in Bend, Oregon [2:55]
- Health impacts of mercury [4:50]
- Impacts of a mercury spill in your home [7:35]
- How not to clean up mercury? [10:15]
- How EPA cleans up mercury?
- Who is responsible for paying for cleanup? [13:35]
- Why mercury spills happen so often [15:05]
- Mercury cleanup resources – EPA website [16:50]
- How to clean up a small spill
- What to do in the event of a larger spill
- Notify local authorities
- Oregon Poison Center | 1-800-222-1222
- Oregon Emergency Response System | 1-800-452-0311
- EPA spills line | 206-553-1263
- National spill response line | 1-800-424-8802
- Household items that contain mercury [18:40]
- How to safely dispose of mercury-containing items [22:35]
- Household hazardous waste collection events
- Things that might contain mercury in your home
- Toxics-Free Kids Act (OHA)
- Wrap-up [26:20]
If you do have materials that contain mercury in your home – use this double-sided cheat sheet and stash it near by. That way, you won’t accidentally track mercury when trying to remember what to do.