Health and Family Services Cabinet
DPH to Take Part in Western Kentucky Mercury Cleanup
Representatives from the Department for Public Health will join officials from McCracken County government and the Purchase District Health Department, Paducah Power, and the Cabinet for Environmental and Public Protection this weekend for a county-wide cleanup of household hazardous waste and products that contain mercury.
“As we prepare for Earth Day, this event comes as a welcome reminder of simple things we can do to protect the environment,” said Guy Delius, assistant director of DPH’s Division of Public Health Protection and Safety. “We understand that Earth Day means different things to different people, and for us it’s a good time to educate the public about dangerous environmental contaminants like mercury.”
“Mercury can be found in many places in our community. Local health and dental care facilities have been notified of this event in hopes of bringing in their old outdated mercury thermometers/blood pressure cuffs and other forms of mercury they may have in their offices,” said Delius.
Mercury is an element in the earth’s crust that in its pure form is considered a liquid metal and is sometimes referred to as quicksilver. Mercury evaporates at room temperature and more quickly when heated. It has traditionally been used to make products like thermometers, switches and some light bulbs. Mercury may also be introduced into the environment via the combustion of energy-producing fossil fuel emissions. Contact with mercury and mercury vapors can cause adverse health effects.
Saturday’s efforts are aimed at collecting household waste that cannot be easily disposed of, and mercury in any form except fluorescent bulbs. CHFS and the EPPC will provide not only staffing, but also digital thermometers in exchange for mercury-containing thermometers.
This is the second event of its kind in Kentucky. The last was in Richmond in 2005.
“Participating in this event is a good way for our staff to show our commitment to the residents of the Commonwealth of Kentucky and the importance of safe environmental practices at home,” said DPH Commissioner William D. Hacker, M.D. “Small measures, like disposing of mercury thermometers or hazardous household cleaning products, can make all the difference in providing a safer home and a healthier environment.”
The event will begin at 7 a.m. (CST) Saturday at the CWI Transfer Station, 829 Burnett St. in Paducah. All community members are encouraged to attend.