EVERETT, Wash. – On March 1, 2011, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) stopped providing calibration services for mercury-filled thermometers. This marks the first major milestone for the phasing out of potentially dangerous mercury thermometers in the United States.
Mercury, a potent neurotoxin, has long been a standard in thermometers and is also used in a number of industrial processes, such as gold mining. If released into the environment, mercury makes its way into streams and rivers, eventually dumping into the oceans where it is absorbed by sea life and accumulates in the larger fish that people consume. This is a source of mercury poisoning in humans.
Phasing out mercury thermometers is one way to reduce the mercury entering the food chain and to avoid the dangers inherent in mercury thermometers being accidentally broken by their users.
However, before mercury thermometers can be completely eliminated, the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) will have to align its standards with the regulations many states have already enacted that outlaw the sale and transportation of mercury thermometers. To date, nearly half of the ASTM standards have been modified.
One of the best alternatives to a mercury thermometer is a digital thermometer, but not all digital thermometers are equally effective. Although most portable digital thermometers are more durable than mercury-filled thermometers, many are not accurate or dependable enough for precise industrial applications.
Process manufacturers of chemical, pharmaceutical, food or petroleum products require accurate temperature measurements. Because temperature sensors are subject to drift with time, regular calibration or verification against a reliable reference thermometer is required. Fluke 1551A and 1552A “Stik” thermometers provide the measurement accuracy, durability and safety required for industries such as oil and gas production and petrochemicals—with no mercury hazard.
The Fluke 1551A “Stik” thermometer features a thin-film RTD sensor that provides repeatable accuracy of ± 0.05 °C (+ 0.09 °F) over its full range from –50 °C to 160 °C (–58 °F to 320 °F). A stainless steel sheath protects the sensor, making it much more rugged than the glass stems of mercury thermometers, so they are much better suited for challenging industrial environments. In addition, Fluke “Stik” thermometers are intrinsically safe (ATEX- and IECEx-certified), so they can be used in environments where potentially explosive gases are present.
The stainless steel probe and large, backlit digital display of the Fluke “Stik” Thermometers are fixed together and calibrated as a system. The accuracy specification is easy to understand since it includes all uncertainty components, including drift, for up to one year. Also included is a NVLAP-accredited, NIST-traceable calibration. (NVLAP accredits third-party testing and calibration laboratories based on the requirements of ISO/IEC 17025.)
Fluke 1551A Ex/1552A Ex “Stik” thermometers provide a rugged alternative to mercury-filled thermometers that are safer, more precise and ideal for the most demanding industrial applications. For more information on alternatives to mercury-filled thermometers, go to http://www.epa.gov.
For more information on the Fluke "Stik" Thermometers and other products from Fluke Calibration, visit the Fluke Calibration Solution Center, or Stik or contact Fluke Corporation at P.O. Box 9090, Everett, WA USA 98206-9090 or 1-877-355-3225. Follow Fluke on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Linkedin.
Founded in 1948, Fluke Corporation is the world leader in compact, professional test and measurement tools. Fluke tools deliver the testing and troubleshooting capabilities that are critical to keep commerce and industry running smoothly. Fluke customers are technicians, engineers, electricians, metrologists and building diagnostic professionals, who install, troubleshoot and manage industrial, electrical and electronic equipment and calibration processes for quality control and building restoration. In the past five years, Fluke tools won more than 50 industry awards, including Best in Test, Engineer’s Choice and Product of the Year. Fluke is a registered trademark of Fluke Corporation in the United States and/or other countries. The names of actual companies and products mentioned herein may be the trademarks of their respective owners.