Thermostats control the heater and air conditioner in your home. When the temperature differs from the level you’ve set, either the heater or the air conditioner goes on, keeping your home nice and cozy.
Thermostats have historically operated using mercury, the same stuff that’s found in thermometers. Once heated or cooled, the mercury expands or contracts, triggering a mechanical reaction that turns on your appliance.
MERCURY IN OUR FOOD CHAIN
The mercury that has long made thermostats work is the same substance that is finding its way into our food chain and causing myriad problems. For this reason, you should never throw out an old thermostat. Recycle it instead. This is very important.
Contact your local health department or environmental agency to find out what kind of recycling program is available in order to properly dispose of mercury-containing thermostats. Many government agencies have active mercury recycling programs. In fact, every government needs to start such a program. These programs need to be user-friendly, because experience suggests that recycling programs containing too many obstacles tend to be less successful.
A MUCH BETTER ALTERNATIVE TO MERCURY
The good news is that mercury-free thermostats are now available and people are buying them. Electronic mercury-free thermostats are a much better alternative to those that contain mercury. They can be pre-programmed, avoid the mercury disposal issue and in general are very environmentally efficient.
Mercury is becoming a bigger and bigger health issue in all of North America. Did you ever imagine that the health value of tuna would be called into question? We need to start taking this issue very seriously.
Stuart Lieberman is a partner at a Princeton, New Jersey, law firm. The information contained in this article is for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.
REPLACEMENT AND PROPER DISPOSAL OF MERCURY THERMOSTATS EQUALS A CLEANER ENVIRONMENT