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Home Learn More Hazards Around Your Home Household Hazardous Waste Mercury
Mercury PDF Print E-mail

The phrase “mad as a hatter” has been around for hundreds of years.  Have you ever wondered where the phrase originated?  In the 19th Century hat makers would often be mentally unstable, exhibit personality changes, suffer from tremors of the hands and feet and weep for little or no reason. Why did hat makers act so strangely?  They were suffering from mercury poisoning.  Mercury nitrate was used in the 1800s in the felting process.  Hat makers or hatters were commonly exposed to mercury on a daily basis and it dramatically affected their nervous systems. 

While the use of mercury is much more closely regulated now, it is still used in many of the items we commonly use at home or at work.   Mercury is the only metal that is a liquid at normal temperatures.  Since mercury is a liquid, it can be easily vaporized and contaminate the air we breathe, or it can quickly slip down a drain and contaminate our water system.  So, the proper handling and disposal of mercury containing items is critical to protecting human and environmental health.

Contact your local solid waste management district to learn more about mercury disposal programs in your area. 

More information regarding mercury can be found at the Indiana Department of Environmental Management’s website.  Mercury clean up guidelines are available at the Environmental Protection Agency’s website.




Last Updated on Wednesday, 24 February 2010 13:27