thermometers on the way out
Peters is turning up the heat on mercury thermometers at the University.
Peters, manager of U.Va.s hazardous materials program, wants
to replace mercury thermometers with safer, more environmentally
is very toxic, and when you break [a mercury thermometer] it is
released into the environment, Peters said. The vapor
is toxic to breathe.
is the only metal that is liquid at room temperature and vaporizes.
An unattended spill can emit vapors for years.
evaporates slowly. Its fumes are invisible and odorless,
he said. It attacks the central nervous system, causing
emotional disturbances and organ damage.
Peters has already replaced thermometers in a few undergraduate
chemistry labs and he wants to get the word out to other lab managers.
estimates that there are thousands of mercury thermometers around
the University, in undergraduate labs, research departments, storage
rooms and students pockets.
thermometers have long been the standard of accuracy, and that
makes some lab managers reluctant to change. However, Peters said
his replacement thermometers contain non-hazardous, biodegradable
liquid with dye and are just as accurate as the mercury
ones. The new thermometers cost about $8 each, similar to the
cost of a mercury thermometer.