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Mercury Thermometer Ban


shuggee

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Posted
  • Location: Upper Tweeddale, Scottish Borders 240m ASL
  • Location: Upper Tweeddale, Scottish Borders 240m ASL

    Storm over European bid to ban mercury barometers

    ALISTAIR GRAY

    THEY grace the walls of hundreds of homes, a reassuring reminder of a bygone era. But now mercury barometers face being consigned to history thanks to a ruling drawn up by the European Union.

    The remnants of an industry in which Edinburgh once led the world face oblivion under the proposals, described as a "sledgehammer to crack a nut". The rules would not only ban the manufacture of new barometers but also forbid their repair and import.

    Edinburgh antiques specialists said the rules were needless on safety grounds and would eventually lead to the demise of the much-loved collectibles.

    Mercury has the potential to be harmful, but only when people are exposed to it in large quantities.

    The UK's modern mercury barometer manufacturing firms face being wiped out under the proposals.

    Michael Bennett-Levy, the owner of an Edinburgh-based firm that specialises in the technology of days gone by, said

    : "My customers, those that are very interested in antiques will be extraordinarily sad. This ban is complete nonsense. With mercury barometers it's not in any concentration that would ever be harmful."

    Mr Bennett-Levy, who runs Early Technology from his Old Craighall home, said: "This is a total absurdity. There are several million British people walking around with mercury fillings - there's no sign of them having mercury poisoning."

    Mr Bennett-Levy, who holds a degree in Chemistry and Physics, said he had been handling with mercury himself for 40 years without any problem.

    Renton Mein, owner of Potterrow barometer manufacturer Stevenson Reeves, recently switched production to the modern electronic version.

    But he said their mercury counterparts retain great sentimental value for enthusiasts.

    He said: "I think a ban would be completely disproportionate - it's a sledgehammer to crack a nut.

    "The only risk would be if the mercury was spilt, or if someone ate it. "But these days they're all in enclosed cases anyway. The risk is very, very minor.

    Scottish Conservative MEP Struan Stevenson is pressing for an exemption to the proposed legislation for the barometer industry. He said: "The art of manufacturing barometers first came to Edinburgh from Italy over 400 years ago and soon Edinburgh and London became world leaders in the trade.

    "I am urging my colleagues to seek an exemption from this legislation for barometers."

    Edward Allen, owner of Russell Scientific, which is the one of the largest manufacturers of mercury barometers in the UK and is based in Norfolk, said his business faces ruin under the proposals.

    "It's typical and usual of Brussels not to consider what they're actually doing. I'm completely fed up with them. They think they know all about this - they don't have a clue.

    "They've just decided they don't like Mercury and so have just decided to ban it.

    "They're forcing us out of a business that's been around since 1862."

    There is considerable debate in the scientific community regarding the effects of mercury.

    The European legislation is designed to reduce the quantity of overall level of mercury amid concerns that the toxins could enter the food chain.

    The Commission argues that mercury and its compounds are highly toxic to humans, ecosystems and wildlife.

    A spokesman insisted that the proposals would not mean the end of specialist businesses since the ownership and sale of old mercury barometers will not be banned under the legislation.

    The Environment Committee in the European Parliament will meet to discuss the proposals at the start of July.

    From: Edinburgh Evening News

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    Posted
  • Location: Colchester, Essex, UK (33m ASL)
  • Location: Colchester, Essex, UK (33m ASL)

    Interesting really

    Making such a fuss about the little old mercury thermometer, which accounts for probably zero deaths per year...

    Wonder what will be next?

    The internal combustion engine with all its associated poisons and possibilities of those poisons etc entering the food chain?

    :rolleyes:

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    Posted
  • Location: just south of Doncaster, Sth Yorks
  • Location: just south of Doncaster, Sth Yorks

    nothing that comes out of Brussels should surprise any of us any more.

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    Posted
  • Location: Sth Staffs/Shrops 105m/345' & NW Snowdonia 219m/719'
  • Location: Sth Staffs/Shrops 105m/345' & NW Snowdonia 219m/719'

    Totally agree there John.

    My old Chemistry teacher used to demonstrate how to make metal float by pouring mercury into the palm of his hand and then floating an old Thru'penny Bit in the pool of mercury.

    He's dead now.

    (But from old age.)

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    Posted
  • Location: Lincoln, Lincolnshire
  • Weather Preferences: Sunshine, convective precipitation, snow, thunderstorms, "episodic" months.
  • Location: Lincoln, Lincolnshire

    I'm very used to these kinds of proposals.

    If there's 1% chance that someone might missuse it or abuse it, ban it. "Individual inconvenience vs collective good"- better to inconvenience fifty million people, than to have a few idiots get hurt. Usually there are other ways of dealing with such a problem that don't inconvenience everyone else as much, but people accept that there aren't any, so none are considered.

    Seems like Brussels isn't necessarily any better than our Government after all. On the other hand, I'd be extremely surprised if the proposal actually gets anywhere.

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    Posted
  • Location: Dublin, ireland
  • Weather Preferences: Snow , thunderstorms and wind
  • Location: Dublin, ireland

    Madness.

    What about mercury thermometers, meteorological and medical?

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    Posted
  • Location: Llandysul, Ceredigion, Wales
  • Location: Llandysul, Ceredigion, Wales

    I always go for a mercury thermometer. Alcohol one's that I've seen seem to stick quite a bit to the sides, never mind the meniscus.

    On the other hand it can't be a very good idea to have mercury accumulating all over the place.

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