Banishing Mercury Off the Planet?
TRC has promoted the BMOP contest since 2011. Since the beginning, the idea has been to recognize HARDI wholesalers who have been the most diligent about collecting and sending mercury-containing thermostats to TRC for safe recycling. This led us to the belief that offering public recognition was appropriate for those who made the effort. After all, they were persistent in collecting those thermostats that had ampules filled with mercury and ensured that they found their way into our green collection bins. We started the contest under the original moniker of Big Man on Planet, but eventually we felt a less gender-focused and more descriptive name made sense, and was more accurate.
Well, in our enthusiasm to add a little spice to our efforts, and yes, we’ll admit it, to add a little punch to our marketing, in 2019 we arrived at Banish Mercury Off the Planet, which sounded rather good. It had a catchy name, and this is why we swapped the moniker. And then the Oops moment.
We confronted an undeniable truth. You see, TRC can’t banish mercury off the planet. Nor can you. It is an element that cannot be destroyed. Its scientific symbol for would-be scientists amongst the readers of this blog is Hg, its atomic number is the pleasant 80 and it is commonly known as quicksilver. (If you’re a Marvel Comic fan, you’ll understand.) Deposits of the element exist throughout the world. Scientific fans of the element named it hydrargyrum after the Greek words for water and silver. Mercury served a useful function in barometers, manometers, sphygmomanometers, float valves and other devices, like thermostats, until we recognized a problem: It was toxic to humans and mercury poisoning can occur with exposure to water-soluble forms or by inhaling its vapors.
We can still find inorganic mercury compounds in skin-lightening soaps and creams. And there is mercuric chloride in photography and as a topical antiseptic and disinfectant, wood preservative, and fungicide. Mercuric sulfide finds its way into color paints and is one of the red coloring agents used in tattoo dyes.
We believe that in the interest of full disclosure and transparency, we needed to reflect the message of our marketing more accurately as a punctuation point toward clarity. No, we cannot banish mercury from our planet. However, we can and will continue to locate, remove and safely recycle every mercury-containing thermostat in the contiguous 48 states as we continue on our mission of creating a safer environment.
Scientists or archaeologists apparently found mercury in Egyptian tombs dating 1500 BC. As I’ve suggested, it’s been around for a while (think forever) and will be with us for a rather long time. So, we’ve decided to keep the moniker that we adopted, heap praise on the wholesalers who are conscientious, and recognize them at HARDI’S annual conference.
And let’s face it. Removing Mercury-Containing Thermostats from the Contiguous United States” doesn’t quite have the tone, pizzazz, or brevity that “Banish Mercury Off the Planet” possesses. So I think we’ll keep the latter because it’s a good fit, it seems to work, and finding another name to match the acronym seems unnecessary.