News Release News Release The City of Palo Alto
Communications Department
250 Hamilton Ave
Palo Alto, CA 94301


PRESS RELEASE #10/1/2010
Subject :

City to Help Mercury Plummet in October
October Collection Drive to Help Remove Mercury From Homes and Waterways
Contact : Brad Eggleston, Source Control Manager, Public Works    (650) 329-2104

Palo Alto, CA – To prevent household sources of mercury from entering waterways and harming fish and other wildlife, local pharmacies, senior centers and medical facilities are partnering with the Regional Water Quality Control Plant (RWQCP) in Palo Alto to accept mercury-containing thermometers during the month of October.

Phil Bobel, the RWQCP Environmental Compliance Manager, wants to collect at least 2,000 mercury-containing fever thermometers during the month of October to bring the total number of thermometers collected for recycling since 1998 to over 10,000. The mercury in just one fever thermometer can contaminate ten million gallons of water to levels higher than allowable under State water standards so keeping even very small amounts of mercury out of the environment is important. 

“Over the last twelve years, we’ve reduced the Plant’s mercury releases by 50% from 2001 levels through the success of the various RWQCP mercury reduction programs,” says Bobel. “We know that the Bay will take generations to heal from historical mercury pollution from both gold and mercury mining so we need to halt every new source of mercury that we can to keep that process moving in the right direction.” 

The State of California lists San Francisco Bay as impaired by mercury. Local anglers are encouraged to limit their consumption of Bay fish to two servings per month due to high mercury levels. Mercury from broken and improperly disposed thermometers, thermostats, fluorescent lights and batteries can enter the Bay and be converted by bacteria to a toxic form that accumulates up the food chain. Mercury can affect the ability of wildlife to reproduce successfully, and pregnant women and young children are also susceptible to mercury poisoning.

Place your thermometer in its case or in two sealed plastic bags before bringing it to any Los Altos, Mountain View or Palo Alto Walgreens pharmacy or to one of the many other participating pharmacies and senior centers in the RWQCP service area.  Find a complete list of thermometer drop-off locations and their operating hours listed at or by calling (650) 329-2598.