How A Mercury Thermostat Can Threaten Your Family's Health

Did you know that thermostats predate air conditioning by almost 300 years? While Willis Carrier invented air conditioning as we know it in 1902, the first recorded use of a thermostat was a mercury thermostat invented by Cornelis Drebbel for use in a chicken incubator in Holland around the year 1620.

Thermostats have seen a lot of change and innovation in the roughly 400 years since their invention, and nowadays almost all new home comfort systems are installed with energy-efficient digital or programmable thermostats. A lot of homes still use mercury thermostats to control their older HVAC systems, though, and this could pose a serious health risk for your family.

The Health Risks Of Mercury Exposure

Mercury is considered by the World Health Organization to be one of the top 10 chemicals of major public health concern due to the harmful effects associated with it. Exposure to the elemental, or metallic, mercury in your thermostat can cause:

  • Neurological Disorders
  • Behavioral Problems
  • Kidney Disease
  • Digestive Problems
  • Autoimmune Disorders
  • Eye Problems
  • Lung Disease
  • Death

In addition to these health risks, if the elemental mercury in your thermostat is released into the environment, bacteria can change it into methylmercury, which then gets into the water table and taints local fish and shellfish. Eating tainted fish or shellfish can cause cognitive impairment, including issues with:

Children and fetuses are particularly susceptible to the damaging effects of methylmercury because their brains are still developing. For this reason, mothers are advised not to eat many types of fish and shellfish during pregnancy and to limit their young children’s fish intake to no more than two meals per week.

How To Tell If Your Home’s Thermostat Contains Mercury

It’s easy to determine whether you have a mercury thermostat in your Thibodaux or Houma home. Mercury thermostats are manual, usually round or rectangular in shape, with one or more levers you can use to adjust the temperature setting. If it has a digital readout and buttons or a touchscreen, it isn’t a mercury thermostat.

Replacing & Recycling Your Mercury Thermostat

Because mercury does not biodegrade and cannot be destroyed, throwing away mercury thermostats is prohibited. They must be recycled so the the mercury in them can be put to use in other applications that pose less public health risks.

We recommend you call Doug’s to replace and recycle your mercury thermostat. Not only will we help you find a suitable thermostat for your home’s comfort needs, we’ll make sure it’s installed correctly—something you can’t guarantee when you DIY. Call us at (985) 222-2913 to get started today!

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