Mercury Thermometers on the Way Out


A long list of leading retailers, manufacturers and hospitals recently agreed to terminate sales of mercury thermometers. Health Care Without Harm and Walden Asset Management, a social investment firm, are asking Kroger, Medicine Shoppe, Safeway and other retail pharmacy chains to follow suit. Pam Powell, Group Vice President of Marketing for Albertson’s, a retailer with 2,500 stores, explains, “There was a time when mercury fever thermometers were all we had. Now we have options that are economically feasible, medically effective and environmentally friendly [digital thermometers].” Cathy Polley, Director of Pharmacy, Government and Trade Relations at Kmart, notes, “it is time to retire a product that is on retailer shelves out of habit, not necessity.” Mercury is a known neurotoxin that disrupts brain development in fetuses. According to a National Academy of Sciences National Research Council report, 60,000 babies a year may be at risk for lower IQ and learning disabilities because their mothers ate mercury-contaminated fish and seafood. Combustion of municipal solid waste is the second largest source of mercury pollution in the U.S.; mercury thermometers are the largest single source of mercury to municipal solid waste. 40 states have mercury advisories in one or more water bodies; 11 states […]

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