Daily Mail 14 March 2006
Britain’s 400-year-old barometer-making industry is under threat from Brussels bureaucrats, it emerged yesterday. The European Commission will vote this week on whether to outlaw the use of mercury in temperature and weather gauges.
Let’s get the facts straight here. Firstly, the vote took place at the European Parliament, not the Commission. MEPs were voting on a Commission proposal to phase out the use of mercury in measuring instruments. It is a well-known fact that mercury poses health hazards and the Commission wants to minimise the risks.
There is NO proposal to ban the manufacture of barometers altogether. Indeed, for some specific scientific applications, mercury-based instruments still offer the most reliable and accurate readings and will continue to be used until suitable substitutes are found.
However, manufacturers of NEW barometers intended for sale to the general public would have to concentrate on producing non-mercury models.
OLD mercury barometers that are family heirlooms, collectors’ items and antiques are NOT destined for oblivion. Specialist barometer makers will continue their business of restoring, maintaining and if necessary, advising on disposal. Such instruments can continue to be marketed.
It is also worth noting that there are several types of traditional barometer produced in the UK, not all of which use mercury. Stick barometers all use mercury, but many of the familiar banjo barometers that most people associate with this type of instrument have anaeroid movements and spirit thermometers and are not covered by the proposals.