Scientists from around the world are meeting this week in Geneva, Switzerland, at a conference sponsored by the U.N. Environment Programme, to discuss ways to cut back on global mercury use. For decades, the toxic substance has been used in lamps, batteries, electrical equipment, thermometers, dental fillings, pesticides, pharmaceuticals, and even beauty products. Gulp! Mercury can cause permanent damage to the brain, nervous system, and kidneys. When disposed of in landfills, the metal can slowly seep into groundwater or evaporate into the air, where it can travel for thousands of miles, accumulating in cold regions such as Arctic lakes. Last week, the U.S. Senate voted unanimously to ban the sale of mercury fever thermometers and to spend $20 million on a mercury thermometer collection and exchange project.