Mercury Roundup, a pioneering collection sweep, teaches Ontarians how to identify mercury-containing products and divert a potent toxic chemical from our waste streams.
Scout Environmental is proud to announce the expansion of Mercury Roundup: a ground-breaking program that educates Ontarians on the dangers of mercury — a toxic heavy metal — and empowers them to bring mercury-containing products to their local household hazardous waste facilities for safe recycling.
With generous funding from the Ontario Trillium Foundation, Scout partnered with the Region of Peel on a program pilot in 2016. The City of Peterborough and the City of Barrie joined in 2018, and together these three municipalities have collected over 959 mercury-containing items to date. Scout Environmental plans to expand Mercury Roundup to four more municipalities by 2021.
Mercury is a naturally occurring substance, a good conductor of electricity and the only metal that is liquid at room temperature. As such, it is used in the production of button batteries, fluorescent tubes, and compact fluorescent lighting (CFLs). It was also used in the manufacture of thermostats, thermometers, blood pressure monitors, and a variety of switches used in residential, commercial, and industrial applications. These older items still linger in people’s basements, garages, and storage units, and are often accidentally thrown into the garbage.
Mercury contamination carries a substantial threat to human and ecosystem health, as witnessed in the First Nations communities of Grassy Narrows and Wabaseemoong (Whitedog) in Ontario. Exposure to small amounts can have toxic effects on the nervous, digestive, and immune systems, and on lungs, kidneys, skin, and eyes. It can also contaminate soil and water and cause catastrophic damage to our natural ecosystems. Humans have increased the base level of mercury contamination in the global environment by 300%, so it’s vital to minimize the improper disposal of all mercury products.
Mercury Roundup works directly with participating municipalities to collect and safely manage these items. Visit MercuryRoundup.ca to see a full list of items that may contain mercury and what to do in the event of a spill. If you are interested in having your municipality join the Mercury Roundup program, contact Scout Environmental Program Manager Kasper Franciszkiewicz at [email protected].