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UIC News Tips
University of Illinois at Chicago Office of Public Affairs (MC 288)
601 S. Morgan St., Chicago, IL 60607-7113, (312) 996-3456, www.uic.edu/depts/paff

September 5 , 2000 Contact: Jody Oesterreicher, (312(0996-8277, joest@uic.edu



UIC is holding the nation's first campus-wide mercury thermometer exchange to protect the health of faculty, staff, students and their families and the environment from the accidental release of mercury from broken thermometers. In exchange for household fever thermometers, UIC will provide digital thermometers free-of-charge.


Mercury is toxic to humans and wildlife. Mercury affects the human brain, spinal cord, kidneys and liver. Spilled mercury evaporates unless properly cleaned up. It is released when a thermometer breaks and can pose risks to household members even at very low levels of exposure. Each mercury fever thermometer contains about 1 to 1.5 grams of mercury.


Wednesday, Sept. 13, 11 a.m. - 2 p.m.; Thursday, Sept. 14, 7 - 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. - 2 p.m.; and Friday, Sept. 15, 11 a.m. - 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. - 5 p.m.


UIC Medical Sciences Building, 835 S. Wolcott St., first floor lobby


A coalition of UIC organizations including the Environmental Health and Safety Office, Green Campus Council, Sustainable Hospital Project in the School of Public Health, UICycle Program, and University Health Service are sponsoring the mercury thermometer exchange. UIC will provide one digital thermometer per household while supplies last.

Thermometers should be brought to UIC in their hard plastic cases to prevent breakage. If no case is available, thermometers can be placed in a clean, empty, plastic pop bottle with a screw-on lid, tightly capped. The case or bottle can be placed in a plastic bag for extra security.

A private foundation is funding the thermometer exchange, and Health Care Without Harm, a coalition of more than 200 organizations including hospitals, environmental groups and labor unions, is supporting the effort. The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency has arranged for the collected thermometers to be transported to a mercury recycling facility for the safe recovery of the mercury.

Cities including San Francisco, Ann Arbor, Mich., and Duluth, Minn., have banned the sale of glass mercury thermometers. Large retail chains including K-Mart, Rite Aid and Albertson's have stopped selling the devices. Health Care Without Harm has spearheaded the campaign to rid the nation of mercury thermometers.


Scott Sederstrom, Sustainable Hospital Project, (312) 355-1877

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