Mercury is used in many items found in schools, such as thermometers, barometers, switches, thermostats, flowmeters, lamps, shoes, and laboratory reagents in the science department. Accidental exposures to mercury can have a number of negative effects on children's health.
Mercury is a neurotoxic substance that can produce a wide range of health effects depending on the amount and timing of exposure. At high doses, mercury exposure can cause tremors, inability to walk, convulsions, and even death. At levels more commonly seen in the United States, the mercury exposure effects documented include more subtle yet still serious damage to the senses and brain. Repeated exposures to low levels of mercury vapor over long periods have been associated with irritability, impulsiveness, drowsiness, impaired memory, and sleep disturbances. These effects may occur at lower levels of exposure in children than adults.
For more information on Mercury, visit:
Mercury is a naturally occurring element that is present throughout the
environment. Human activity can release some of that mercury into the air,
water and soil. In the U.S., coal-fired power plants are the biggest source
of mercury emissions to the air. The EPA is working to reduce the amount of
mercury in the environment.
Featured Mercury Resources:
Healthy School Environments Assessment Tool (HealthySEAT)
HealthySEAT is a new software tool from EPA designed to help school districts conduct voluntary, customized self-assessments of their school facilities for environmental, health, and safety hazards.
Source: EPA - Office of Air and Radiation - Indoor Environments Division
New Hampshire Healthy School Environments
This website provides links to resources to help schools assess and address health, safety and environmental issues in school buildings. Both a fact sheet on NH Department of Environmental Services (NH DES) efforts to customize EPA's HealthySEAT , as well as New Hampshire customization of the software may be downloaded from this site.
Source: New Hampshire Department of Envrionmental Services Air Resources Division - Air Resources Division
LEED for Schools
The LEED for Schools Rating System recognizes the unique nature of the design and construction of K-12 schools. Based on the LEED for New Construction rating system, it addresses issues such as classroom acoustics, master planning, mold prevention and environmental site assessment.
Source: U.S. Green Building Council
NCEF- Healthy School Environments Resource List
National Clearinghouse for Educational Facilities resource list of links, books, and journal articles on environmentally safe and healthy school buildings.
Source: National Institute of Building Sciences - National Clearinghouse for Educational Facilities
Safe Lab: School Chemistry Laboratory Safety Guide
The document provides teachers, and ultimately their students, with information
so that they can take the appropriate precautionary actions in order to prevent or minimize hazards, harmful exposures, and injuries in the laboratory.
Source: Consumer Product Safety Commission & NIOSH
Indoor Air Quality Tools for Schools Walkthrough Video Assessment
This is a streaming-video module directed towards schools in city environments. The purpose is to help people identify potential indoor air quality problems and how to correct them. Based on EPA's Indoor Air Quality Tools for Schools Program.
Source: Rutgers University
Mercury in Schools
This Web site describes the University of Wisconsin's Solid and Hazardous Waste Education Center (SHWEC) Mercury in Schools Project that provides school and agency staff with the information and tools needed to reduce or eliminate mercury in schools. This site specifically describes why it is important to focus on schools as a source of mercury.
Source: University of Wisconsin - Extension Service
Schools Chemical Cleanout Campaign
Every year, hundreds of thousands of dollars are spent on school incidents involving chemicals such as spills and fires. These incidents involve potentially dangerous chemicals which, in some cases, had been unused for more than thirty years. In addition to financial costs, these spills may also cause school closures that result in a loss of valuable education time. The Schools Chemical Cleanout Campaign (SC3) seeks to address this issue by not only cleaning out excess, legacy, unused, and improperly stored chemicals but also by going a step further and implementing preventive mechanisms in schools.
Source: EPA-Office of Solid Waste
Rhode Island Rules and Regulations for School Health Programs
These regulations, issued by RI Department of Education and RI Deptartment of Health, address a number of environmental/health issues in schools, such as: mercury, pesticide application, asbestos, lead, radon, water supply, and chemical hygiene plans. The regulations prohibit the use of certain chemicals from schools (see Appendix A).
Source: RI Dept Education and RI Dept Health
Wisconsin - Green Schools Program
The Wisconsin Green Schools Program is a web based, voluntary program available to all K-12 schools across the state. The program encourages teachers, staff and students to work together to use the school, grounds, and community as learning tools to help teach sound environmental practices and promote environmental sustainability. A wide variety of environmental topics are addressed.
Source: Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources - Green Schools Program
Environmental Health and Safety in the Arts
This environmental health and safety manual covers art education and production. This manual is available on-line in both English and Spanish.
Source: EPA - Region 2
Environmental Compliance and Best Management Practices Guidance Manual
This comprehensive environmental manual is available on-line in both English and Spanish.
Source: EPA - Region 2
Green Buildings Portal
Green or sustainable building is the practice of creating healthier and more resource-efficient models of construction, renovation,
operation, maintenance, and demolition. EPA's Green Building web portal provides links to energy, waste, water, materials, and indoor environment resources.
Source: EPA-Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response - Office of Solid Waste
National Compliance Assistance Clearinghouse
The National Compliance Assistance Clearinghouse is your guide to compliance information on the Internet. It provides quick access to compliance tools, contacts, and planned activities from across EPA as well as other compliance assistance providers.
Source: EPA - National Compliance Assistance Clearninghouse
California -- Sustainable Schools
This website provides a diverse collection of sustainable building
resources that will help schools create high performance educational facilities that will ensure the optimal health and productivity of students and faculty.
Source: California Division of the State Architect
Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection Improving Environmental Conditions in MA Schools
This website provides links to a variety of web resources that address how to improve the school environment. Topics such as facilities management (including a wide range of environmental, health and safety issues), hazardous waste site impacts on schools, transportation, and waste reduction and recycling are addressed.
Source: Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection
Indoor Air Quality Tools for Schools
EPA's Indoor Air Quality Tools for Schools program provides schools with a range of resources to help them prevent and solve indoor air quality problems.
Source: EPA - Office of Air and Radiation
Indiana - IDEM E-Newsletter for Indiana Educators
This newletter provides information on a range of environmental topics which schools must address.
Source: Indiana Department of Environmental Management
Maine Schools - Mercury and Chemical Clean Out Project
This website describes the ME DEP's 2003 program to reduce mercury and hazardous wastes in schools. Key documents used in this effort, such as a participation agreement, guidelines for conducting a chemical inventory, and spreadsheet for recording chemical inventory are included.
Source: Maine Department of Environmental Protection
Illinois Teaching Learning Knowing the Facts About Mercury
This Illinois Department of Public Health website contains information about mercury, geared to various audiences: teachers, students and parents.
Source: Illinois Department of Public Health
California - Los Angeles Unified School District Product Review Database
Searchable database of over 5,000 products evaluated by the LAUSD Office of Environmental Health and Safety to determine their suitability for use in and around Los Angeles schools.
Source: Los Angeles Unified School District - Office of Environmental Health & Safety
New Hampshire Pollution Prevention in Schools Project
New Hampshire's Department of Environmental Services/Pollution Prevention Program has been providing outreach to NH schools re: proper chemical management. This web site provides information about that program, and provides links to fact sheets on topics such as laboratory chemical management and guidance on eliminating mercury from schools.
Source: New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services - Pollution Prevention Program
Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) Tools for Schools Kit
This Web site provides a description of the IAQ Tools for Schools Kit which shows schools how to carry out a practical plan of action to improve indoor air quality at little or no cost using common sense activities and in-house staff.
Source: EPA Region 6 - Tools for Schools Program
An introduction to toxic chemicals and environmental health risks you might encounter in everyday life, in everyday places, including schools.
Source: National Institutes of Health - National Library of Medicine
Washington State School Health and Safety Program
The program provides consultation, technical assistance, and training to local health jurisdictions, schools, and parent groups on school health and safety issues.
Source: Washington State Department of Health - Office of Environmental Health & Safety
Massachusetts --A Case Study of Environmental, Health, and Safety Issues Involving the Burlington Massachusetts Public School System
This Web site provides a case study of Environmental, Health, and Safety issues in the Burlington, MA public school system.
Source: EPA Region 7 - Burlington Board of Health
Nebraska DEQ Guidance School Chemicals and Disposal
This web site provides information on proper disposal of chemicals found in school settings. Included is a listing of chemicals that may have a greater hazard than usefulness.
Source: Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality - Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality
EPA Guide to Protecting Children's Health in Schools
Software tool developed by EPA Region 5 and Purdue University provides information on hazards found in schools, inlcuding a virtual tour of a school, the potential effects of those hazards on children's health, planning tools, case studies, and lnks to resources to help schools prevent and fix environmental problems.
Source: EPA Region 5 & Purdue University
Massachusetts Environmental Health and Safety Issues in Massachusetts' Primary Schools
The interagency Healthy Schools Council was tasked with identifying a list of the most important issues for schools to address in terms of environmental health and safety. A multi-agency/multi-media checklist was developed addressing these issues.
Source: Massachusetts Healthy Schools Council - Massachusetts Department of Public Health
EPA New England's K-12 Schools Website
This site discusses efforts to improve coordination and integration amongst EPA's many schools related programs, and provides links to Regional topic specific web sites, such as: asbestos, diesel school buses, drinking water, environmental management systems, energy, indoor air quality, lead, mercury and teacher and student resources. Links to national websites are provided as well.
Source: EPA Region 1
Illinois -- Greening Schools
Greening Schools offers FREE technical assistance, workshops for teachers, administrators and facility managers, and on-line resources related to pollution prevention for all Illinois schools.
Source: Illinois Waste Management and Research Center
EPA Region 7: Chemical Management and Usage
Proper chemical management is critical to preventing and/or controlling a variety of Environmental, Health and Safety (EHS) issues within any facility. Understanding the materials present at the school will enable you to understand the issues associated with these substances. Properly recognizing and controlling the hazards inherent to these materials will enhance your ability to create a safe school with minimal environmental liabilities.
Source: EPA Region 7- Burlington Board of Health
Chem Info Net
The Chem Info Net designed as a chemical health and safety resource for teachers, administrators, and service personnel. The site is an ongoing project and information will be added on a regular basis. The initial focus is on laboratory safety and chemicals used in the science curriculum. The information presented is based on current regulations and prudent practices. Local regulations may differ from National Standards. Please consult local and state agencies if standards or procedures are unclear.
Source: Maine School of Science and Mathematics - (aka Limestone Community School)
Northeast Waste Management Officials Organization, Mercury in Schools and Communities
From January to June 2001, January to June 2002, and March to June 2003, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection and the Massachusetts Executive Office of Environmental Affairs funded NEWMOA to assist in identifying and removing elemental mercury and products containing mercury from schools and from homes. Technical materials developed to support this effort are referenced on this web site.
Source: Northeast Waste Management Officials Organization
Connecticut Pollution Prevention in Institutions - Schools, Hospitals, Universities
This web site provides information about CT DEP's mercury reduction and chemical clean-out work with schools. There is also a link to available pollution prevention presentations for schools.
Source: Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection - Pollution Prevention Program - Office of Pollution Prevention
Inventory of Federal School Environmental Health Activities
This inventory was prepared by the Schools Workgroup of the President's Task Force on Environmental Health Risks and Safety Risks to Children and includes descriptions of major school related programs and activities of EPA and other Federal departments and Agencies.
Source: EPA -- President's Task Force on Environmental Health Risks and Safety Risks to Children
Science and Safety: Making the Connection
Guide for science teachers on laboratory safety issues.
Source: Council of State Science Supervisors
EPA Chemical Emergency Preparedness and Prevention
The Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) establishes requirements for Federal, State and local governments, Indian Tribes, and industry regarding emergency planning and Community Right-to-Know reporting on hazardous and toxic chemicals. The Community Right-to-Know provisions help increase the public's knowledge and access to information on chemicals at individual facilities, their uses, and releases into the environment. States and communities, working with facilities, can use the information to improve chemical safety and protect public health and the environment.
Source: EPA Chemical Emergency Preparedness & Prevention - Chemical Emergency Preparedness & Prevention (CEPPO)
Florida -- Brevard County Public Schools Office of Plant Operations and Maintenance
The Office of Plant Operations and Maintenance for Brevard Public Schools in east-central Florida provides information to school administrators and facility managers on a wide range of environmental health and safety topics.
Source: Florida Brevard Public Schools - Environmental Health and Safety
Ohio Mercury Spill Fact Sheet for Schools
Fact sheet from the Ohio Department of Health answering questions such as: What Is Mercury? How Is Mercury Used? Why Should I Care About Mercury Spills? How Does Mercury Get Into My Body? How Can I Prevent Mercury Spills? What Can I Do If There Is A Mercury Spill? Who Should I Call For Cleanup Advice?
Source: Ohio Department of Health - Health Assessment Section
Washington Department of Health Indoor Air Quality Program
The Department of Health's Indoor Air Program provides consultation, technical assistance, and training to local health jurisdictions, school districts, and the public on the health effects of exposure to indoor air contaminants such as mold, asbestos, and formaldehyde.
Source: Washington State Department of Health - Office of Environmental Health & Safety
Indiana Department of Environmental Management Parents and Teachers Page
This Web site contains a wealth of information, including information on how to obtain curricula and educational resources, how to protect children from environmental threats and improve environmental health in the classroom, and how and where to obtain grants and awards applications.
Source: Indiana Department of Environmental Management
Minnesota Mercury-Free Zone
This Web site describes Minnesota's efforts to make its schools mercury-free by 2003.
Source: Minnesota Pollution Control Agency
North Carolina Mercury in Schools
This Web site provides various links and tools to find out more about the problem of mercury in schools and ways to reduce these problems.
Source: North Carolina Division of Pollution Prevention and Environmental Assistance
Ohio Mercury Awareness for School Teachers
There have been several incidents involving mercury spilled in schools, school buses, or school property that cause alarm and require cleanup. Sometimes mercury comes from inside the school, and sometimes mercury is brought into the school from the community. Mercury that is spilled or spread through a school creates an immediate health issue, and may require expensive cleanup and monitoring.
Source: Ohio Environmental Protection Agency - Office of Pollution Prevention
Wisconsin Mercury in Your Home, School and Lake
This Web site describes the effects of mercury on humans and animals and ways to prevent mercury exposure.
Source: Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources - Environmental Education for Kids
Michigan Mercury Pollution Prevention Home Page
This Web site describes the problems associated with mercury in schools and pollution prevention techniques to eliminates these problems.
Source: Michigan Department of Environmental Quality - Pollution Prevention
Vermont Mercury Education & Reduction Campaign - School Science Lab Chemical and Mercury Cleanout Project
This Web site describes how schools can be assisted with inventory and clean-out of unwanted, unlabeled, and unknown hazardous lab chemicals, including mercury and mercury compounds.
Source: Vermont Agency of Natural Resources - Hazardous Materials
Children's Environmental Health Legislation Database
The Children's Environmental Health Legislation database includes state legislation on topics such as asthma, mercury, lead poisoning, pesticides and indoor air quality.
Source: National Conference of State Legislatures - Washington Office
U.S Department of Labor: Occupational Safety & Health Administration
Occupational Safety and Health Standards
Source: U.S. Department of Labor - Occupational Safety & Health Administration