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Mercury in Schools
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  1. Mercury in Schools Steve Brachman Steve Skavroneck Al Stenstrup Mary Thiry www.mercuryinschools.uwex.edu

  2. Mercury inSchools Project • Started in Wisconsin and Region 5 • Expanding nationally with new features • Revised web site • www.mercuryinschools.uwex.edu • New and improved curriculum • Online course • Email us at: mercuryk12@uwm.edu • Hispanic information • CD for school administrators

  3. 100 200 300 400 500 Hg Madhatters used Hg with this type of material The burning of this fossil fuel releases Hg into the air Women of child bearing age and children are the targets of these These have resulted in building closures, health screenings, expensive cleanups and parent lawsuits across the country. JeopardyMercury

  4. Environmental Issues

  5. Health Impacts Mercury bioaccumulates from the bottom to the top of the food chain

  6. Sources of Mercury • Historical • Current usages • Cultural uses

  7. Historical Uses • The Ancients • The Middle Ages • In Medicine • Industrial

  8. Uses of Mercury

  9. Botanicas Statues and icons Natural herbs Folk remedies Amulets & rosaries Sold: 0.5 mL (6.5 grams) 1 mL Varying amulets Ritual Use Good luck, acquire money, love, control others, healing Sprinkled around home, burned in candles, cleaning water, rubbed onto skin, ingested, and carried on person Cultural Uses

  10. Why schools? • Liability • Clean up costs • Parental lawsuits • Staff and student exposure • Demolition/renovation • Kids and teachers working together • Lessons for home and the community • Doable

  11. Educational Foundations • Interdisciplinary • Connected to national academic standards • Leads students from Awareness to Action • Community-based investigations and projects • Based on Constructivist Theory of Learning

  12.  Mercury IQ Case study School mercury audit Home mercury audit Trade-offs exercise Hg in the Food Chain Mercury in fish Mercury through the Ages A local survey Community Action Project Current Mercury Curriculum Activities

  13. 1. MERCURY IQ • Background information on health and environmental issues, cultural uses of mercury • Connections to national academic standards • Short quiz about mercury to see what students know

  14. 2. Case Study of Mercury Contamination in a School • Students are provided with the Michigan mercury case study and some additional information on health effects. • A series of questions is provided for the teacher to stimulate discussion.

  15. 3. School Mercury Audit • Students conduct a mercury inventory of their school or another school in the area. • Guidance on what to look for and questions to ask are provided. • Possible actions for dealing with mercury products found in the school are provided. • A reporting form is also included. • This could be a good opportunity to take advantage of a free recycling program.

  16. 4. Mercury at Home • Very similar to the school audit. • Students conduct a home mercury inventory. A chart showing what to look for and where is provided. • A reporting form is also included. • Disposal requirements, recycling and household hazardous waste disposal are also discussed.

  17. Mercury Reduction Legislative Trends • National/regional mercury model legislation • Local, community-based approaches

  18. Mercury Education and Reduction Model Legislation • Developed by the New England Waste Management Officials Association • Objectives: • Eliminate non-essential mercury uses • Reduce by 2003 overall amounts of mercury-containing waste

  19. Key Components • Manufacturer notification • Interstate Clearinghouse • Bans on frivolous use products • Phase-out and Exemptions - 1g > 10 milligrams • Labeling • Disposal ban

  20. Key Components (cont.) • Collection • Disclosure requirements for health care facilities • Control on sale of elemental mercury • Public education and outreach • Universal waste rule adoption regionally • State procurement - financial incentives

  21. School Specific Legislation • Michigan’s ban – Senate Bill 1262 • Passed • Amended to include private schools with a ban by 2004. • Duluth’s (and many other cities) local ban • Proposed legislation in Indiana, NH, MA, CA

  22. Local Approaches • Milwaukee and Dane County, WI • Based upon source analysis • Prioritizing by community critical

  23. Dane County Key Components • Product Specific Programs • Thermometer ban • Fluorescent light education program • Thermostats – voluntary sale ban & collection promotion • Dairy manometers outreach • Auto switches – DNR grant program • Appliance switches - more research

  24. Dane County (cont.) • Miscellaneous uses research – e.g., gas meters • Facility specific programs • Medical facilities outreach • Dentists • Schools • Demolition and remodeling contractors

  25. 5. Trade-Offs Exercise • Students examine the pros and cons of incandescent vs. fluorescent bulbs. • They examine energy use, mercury emissions and cost. • They present their recommendations as to which to use and why.

  26. 6. Mercury In The Food Chain • Enhances understanding of food webs, nutrient cycles and bioaccumulation and their interactions • Students create a food web for a water body • Physical demonstration of bioaccumulation

  27. 7. Atmospheric Mercury • Students are provided background information on sources of mercury. • They are also provided a series of fact sheets information on air deposition. bioaccumulation. • A map can be used to identify contaminated bodies of water. • Students are asked to analyze different factors that may impact which water bodies. • Students may discuss fish advisory fact sheets and the like.

  28. Advisory for Specific Waters • Eating no more than one meal (1/2 pound) per week of fish from any freshwater, the Hudson River estuary, Upper Bay of New York Harbor (north of Verrazano Narrows Bridge), Arthur Kill, Kill Van Kull, East River to the Throgs Neck Bridge and Harlem River, except as recommended below. • Women of childbearing age, infants, and children under the age of 15 should not eat any fish species from waters listed below. • Following trimming and cooking advice.

  29. 8. Mercury Through The Ages • History of mercury use is provided • Unique properties of mercury are presented • Students relate the unique properties to the historical uses and offer ideas for non-mercury alternatives

  30. 9. Local Survey About Mercury • Students design and conduct a community survey about mercury. • A sample is provided in the package or they can develop their own. • They also develop a plan for communicating the results of the survey to the participants.

  31. 10. Community Action Projects • Students develop a set of recommendations for their community concerning mercury. • Options include educating people in the community about mercury and how to handle it, store it and clean up spills. • Several possible projects are provided. • Several Internet sources are also provided.

  32. Using the internet • Wide variety of resources • Can be used to create own web pages, programs, or fact sheets • Start with EPA as a source of unbiased, credible information.

  33. Contact Us • Mercury-k12@uwm.edu • www.mercuryinschools.uwex.edu