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The End of the Mercury Thermometer

droplets of mercury

Photo: “Mercury” taken by p.Gordon on Flickr.

You may have noticed your doctor using electric rather than mercury thermometers in recent years. Mercury thermometers have become much harder to find over the past decade. Twenty states banned them for medical use since 2001, and starting this month, the National Institute of Standards and Technology will stop calibrating mercury thermometers completely.

Basically, this is the end of mercury thermometers. Without a standard for calibration, there will be no way to know if a temperature reading from a thermometer is accurate.

The main reason for the change is to protect people and the environment from the dangerous effects of mercury. Overexposure to mercury can cause problems like blindness, memory loss and tremors, just to name a few. Spilled mercury is also hard to clean up and can enter the water supply, consequently ending up in the fish that many of us eat.

You can find more information about the decision to stop calibrating mercury thermometers from the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

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