Mayor Don Wesely said today that 4,000 mercury thermometers have been collected during the first two weeks of April as part of the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department's drive to eliminate environmental hazards from homes.
"The success of this effort is due to our partnership with local pharmacies, who are to be commended for their participation," said Mayor Wesely. "Working together, we have collected mercury thermometers that might have broken and presented children and adults in the home, child care or school with a serious environmental health risk."
Through the Mercury Collection and Exchange Program, each participating pharmacy gave a free digital thermometer to the first 40 families who brought in their mercury thermometers.
"The 2,000 digital thermometers we purchased to use in the exchange were gone so quickly it amazed all of us," said Health Department Grant Coordinator Beth Mann, who had the idea for the program. "It really pointed out the fact that many mercury thermometers are still in homes."
Local pharmacies will continue to collect mercury thermometers until the end of the month. Unbroken thermometers should be contained in a re-closable plastic bag, such as a zip-lock bag.
The mercury thermometer collection is part of the Mayor's Children's Health Initiative. Funding was provided by the Health Department's Children's Environmental Health Protection Initiative grant through the Nebraska Health Care Cash Fund. Education and awareness programs for the three-year grant will target parents, teachers, child care providers, nurses, physicians and other health professionals.
"Children are at greater health risk than adults to environmental hazards," said Scott Holmes, Chief of the Department's Environmental Health Division. "Despite great strides in environmental health over the years, there is still much work to do to protect our children from illnesses that can lead to life-threatening conditions."