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Planning and Space Management Protecting and enhancing the NIH environment

NIH Mercury Abatement Program


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Mercury Health Hazards
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Mercury is a dangerous, often unrecognized hazard, commonly found at work, home and schools. The Campaign for a Mercury Free NIH seeks to eliminate all unnecessary uses of mercury in the NIH facilities; encourage use of safer alternatives in biomedical research; increase general awareness of mercury hazards; and prevent mercury spills and pollution.

Why were Hatters MAD ?
In Alice in Wonderland (1865), Lewis Carroll selected a hat maker as the demented host for the tea party. Hatters of the time commonly exhibited slurred speech, tremors, irritability, shyness, depression and other neurological symptoms; hence the expression "mad as a hatter."  Carroll was probably unaware that the hatter's disabilities were symptoms of mercury poisoning. In the mid-1800s hat makers used hot solutions of mercuric nitrate to shape wool felt hats. They typically worked in poorly ventilated rooms leading to chronic occupational exposure to mercury and neurological damage that followed.


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This page last updated on Apr 26, 2006