Mercury is a well-known neurological poison that causes all the symptoms of attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), such as hyperactivity and poor concentration. ADHD affects the fetus and very young children, but the disorder is permanent and the symptoms may be experienced throughout an affected person's lifetime.
All U.S. battery manufacturers have stopped making mercury batteries. However, mercury batteries can still be purchased from foreign sources such as Europe and China and are readily available from U.S. battery vendors despite the ban on sales as well as manufacture in the U.S.
Kellogg Co. shipped 17 million mercury batteries in a promotional toy added to its cereal boxes in 2004 but on July 12 was forced to phase out the practice and recall all such toys by providing a mailer for their return after criticisms from Connecticut, New Hampshire and New York. Those states, except for New York, had laws banning mercury-powered toys because of mercury's toxicity and the environmental problems it creates when it is not properly disposed of. Later in 2004 New York signed such a ban into law, and Kellogg offered to recall mercury battery toys distributed in New York.
Mercury batteries have an unusually stable output voltage over their life and many designs rely on this stability for proper operation. They are most necessary in older cameras and light meters, but were used more fequently in hearing aides, where replacements are readily available.
For more information:
Maine Natural Resources Council press release:
New York State Attorney General press release:
Kelloggs agreed to add to its website information about the proper disposal of mercury, but has not done so yet:
"The mercury cell problem and its solutions," from Rollei Club Nederland, discusses how to obtain or make an adapter for subminiature cameras designed to run on mercury batteries:
Criscam.com in the U.S. sells adapters that allow use of non-mercury batteries in cameras designed for older mercury batteries:
The National Institute of Justice, the research and development agency of the U.S. Department of Justice, has a guide to types of batteries available to consumers:
Environmental scientist Teresa Gallagher is a homeschooling mother of a son with ADHD and has provided a website on the subject, including a page on the Kelloggs toy problem:
Alternatives for many mercury-containing consumer items that ordinarily end up in the trash are listed in this handy tab le provided by INFORM, Inc.: