Thursday, March 3, 2011

Taking Measures

If you still have one, or only reluctantly got rid of one, you may be interested in this post about "The Sort of Sad Death of the Mercury Thermometer."

It explains that while most of the ones you can buy for personal use these days don't contain mercury anymore, thermometers for scientific measurements have continued to use it.

I admit, I still have a mercury thermometer somewhere. I bought it while I was in college, and missed my chance, years ago now, to trade it in for a digital one at one of the pharmacies around here.

I could have upgraded to a nifty modern version, for free!

But I never got around to it. Besides, I was kind of suspicious of the digital versions. I recall them being newish at the time, and I wasn't sure they would work as well.

I also thought "what about when the battery wears out? I'll just have to buy a new one!" I don't know how long the batteries last on those things, but it's probably been 10 years by now, so it's certainly possible a battery would have worn out by this time.

While, as I said, I still have the mercury thermometer in the cabinet. Always thinking ahead, that's me.

I'm not saying this is a brilliant move on my part, though. As the article notes,

There's no secret reason NIST (and partners like the Environmental Protection Agency and United Nations) have pushed scientists away from mercury. It's a neurotoxin—exposure can cause tremors, partial blindness, deafness, memory loss, and many, many other problems—and, if mercury does spill, it's very hard to clean up.

So, yeah, it's not really something most people would necessarily want around their home. I keep it right next to my rat poison and lead-based paint.


1 comment:

brian said...

that's a good place for the mercury :-) - seriously though, the best b/p monitors are the graduated mercury ones. I still don't think any digital one can touch it. I have an old aneroid one, and it is just as accurate as the digitized one.