World Moves To Reduce Use and Release of Mercury

“Governments have agreed on a range of mercury containing products whose production, export and import will be banned by 2020.”

see Minamata Convention Agreed by Nations – UNEP.

This has repercussions for some technology I use:

  • mercurial thermometers, but that’s OK because I prefer the alcohol versions for readability with my old eyes,
  • button cells on many motherboards, which are used for their long lifespan,
  • flourescent lamps, which use a discharge through mercury vapour to generate primary ultraviolet light later converted by phosphors to the visible range,
  • my dental fillings … ,
  • thermostats and tilt-switches have long used mercury because it is liquid at temperatures above -40C, and
  • mercury fulminate for muzzle-loading firearms.

I was planning to use fluorescent lamps in my greenhouse but my present inventory may well last my lifetime…

Mercury fulminate is the traditional detonator used in percussion caps because it is cheap and reliable but it can be replaced. It was replaced in centre-fire ammunition by lead styphnate (also toxic …) and other compounds. Compared to industrial uses like wastes from coal-burning (24% of pollution) and gold mining (37% of pollution – mercury dissolves particles of gold in placer/hydraulic mining and then is boiled away by millions of miners) percussion caps are a tiny source. Perhaps the banners will ignore one of my tools of the trade of shooting/hunting. A recent draft document and a report on the mercury economy do not mention the product…

About Robert Pogson

I am a retired teacher in Canada. I taught in the subject areas where I have worked for almost forty years: maths, physics, chemistry and computers. I love hunting, fishing, picking berries and mushrooms, too.
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