Some items, like light bulbs, and even old TVs and appliances, can contain hazardous metals like lead and mercury. Do not spend time in areas where mercury has been spilled until you are prepared to clean it up. Fluorescent bulbs and compact fluorescent bulbs contain small amounts of mercury. Drop-off thermometers at: West Valley College Student Health Services - 14000 Fruitvale Ave, Saratoga Store mercury added products (fabricated products) in a designated area which is separate from solid waste disposal. Practice Greenhealth is designed to help hospitals improve their environmental performance. When handling products with mercury: Do not break, crush, or disassemble the items. It can clog your plumbing and seriously pollute your septic system … Proper disposal of fluorescent and HID lamps. Now that you have an idea of what to avoid, here are some steps to take. You can visit the US EPA site for additional help in cleaning up after an accident involving mercury. Check with the waste disposal regulations where you live. ThoughtCo uses cookies to provide you with a great user experience. Clearly label storage container as "Mercury - DO NOT OPEN.". Experts say there isn't much danger from the mercury, so just be careful not to cut yourself. Mercury can be found in compact fluorescent lights, thermometers, thermostats and old mercury switches. New York State Rules and Regulations control the disposal of mercury-containing items and waste. Some retail stores also offer collection points, so it’s best to check RecyclingNearYou.com.au where you can find your closest collection point for each type of waste. Once your results populate, click on a location to get business hours, phone numbers, and directions. Store items out of the way in bubble wrap or boxes until you can take them to the Disposal of Toxics facility; Spill Assistance Don't track it around on your shoes. Many communities have household hazardous waste collection events or sites where you can safely dispose of these items. Proper Collection and Disposal of Mercury Components. Several states and municipalities do not recognize the exemption for households; others regulate all fluorescent bulbs as hazardous, regardless of their mercury content. Collection of the amalgam must be done carefully as it can prove hazardous to the patient and dental staff. Place them in a sealed plastic bag on top of their blue recycling cart; Drop-off lights at: Home Depot (CFLs only) - 975 S De Anza Blvd, San Jose; Batteries Plus Bulbs - 3410 Stevens Creek Blvd., San Jose, CA, 95117; Mercury Thermometers. This Home Depot guide has information on proper disposal, plus gives tips about where to recycle batteries. Make it easy on yourself and let The Home Depot take care of the hazardous part by taking advantage of its CFLs Recycling Initiative program. If you are replacing a thermostat, check to see if the old thermostat has a mercury switch. (fabricated products do not include elemental mercury or mercury compounds) Signs must be posted on the storage area that are clearly visible. By using ThoughtCo, you accept our, How to Dispose of a Broken Fluorescent Bulb, Why You Should Not Mix Alcohol and Bleach, Cross-Border Pollution: A Growing International Problem, Ph.D., Biomedical Sciences, University of Tennessee at Knoxville, B.A., Physics and Mathematics, Hastings College. Seal the bag and place it in another bag. Here are some things not to do, plus recommendations for the best way to clean up after a mercury release or spill. Gather the clean-up kit: 2.1. a pair of disposable latex or plastic gloves 2.2. zip lock b… While mercury isn’t recyclable, many of these products are. Use sticky tape to pick up the smaller pieces of debris. Mercury from medical applications can enter the environment through sewers, spills and land disposal of trash. How Can I Dispose of Mercury Waste? Keep people and pets away and open windows to ventilate the area. 2. Place kitty litter or oil-absorbent matter around the product to protect it from breaking or sudden shocks. Handling: Place the mercury thermostat you want to dispose of in a recommended dangerous waste container. 1. Find resources for getting rid of mercury. Isolate the area – get children and pets out of the room where the breakage occurred so that the beads of mercury are not accidentally eaten or tracked throughout the home. There are many state and local programs for recycling or disposing items that contain mercury. To find out how to get rid of the mercury in your school: If that is not available, use a throwaway glass or plastic container. Packaging Mercury for Storage and Transportation Place all mercury-containing products or containers of mercury inside a larger container with a tight fitting lid. Mercury-free battery options can be disposed of in household waste — to determine if your hearing aid batteries are mercury-free, refer to the packaging. Excerpt: What to Do if You Have Mercury in Your Home Many people have containers of elemental mercury in their homes left over from science projects or other sources. And, the warning that they also contain small amounts of mercury comes right along with that knowledge, making them a little irksome to dispose of. You may also bring them to a … Many states and local agencies have developed collection/exchange programs for mercury-containing devices such as thermometers, manometers, and thermostats. If your vacuum has a canister, wipe it clean with damp paper towels and dispose of the used towels. Although a spill of a small amount of mercury is highly unlikely to cause any health problems, it is best to be prepared when handling mercury and to avoid direct contact with the skin, eyes or mouth. Transport containers in the back of a pick-up truck or in your car's trunk. Open a window and allow the room to air out at least 15 minutes. Contact Us to ask a question, provide feedback, or report a problem. If the items in the home that contain mercury are not in good condition, or are likely to break when they are moved, people may want to call in a professional to perform a more thorough mitigation of the problem. You can start with our list of common items containing mercury, but also remember that computers, tablets, mobile phones and other items that rely on printed circuit boards may also contain some mercury and other toxic metals. Wipe off any visible beads of mercury with the wet paper towels and then place them into the plastic bag. See “Applicability-Mercury-Containing Equipment” in the universal waste regulations, specifically section 66273.4, Title 22, of the California Code of Regulations. Through this program, health care professionals are educated about mercury reduction and pollution prevention opportunities. These items are accepted at the Environmental Service Center.. Some places will allow you to throw away broken fluorescent bulbs with other trash while others have more stringent requirements for this type of waste disposal. more information about universal wastes and the RCRA regulations that apply to them. Place kitty litter or oil-absorbent matter around the product to protect it from breaking or sudden shocks. Make special effort to ensure that children stay away. By now you probably see a theme. The important thing to remember is that mercury-containing waste must not be thrown into the household recycling bin, as it won’t be recycled correctly. Households are exempt from these regulations. The disposal of hearing aid batteries depends on the type of battery and if it contains mercury. Many household products contain mercury, from CFLs to button batteries to some thermometers. Check product labels. Use a sheet of paper or cardboard to scoop up glass and metal pieces. If there is no HHW disposal program available in your county or nearby counties, call the DEQ solid waste technical assistance staff member in the nearest DEQ regional office regarding free pick-up of mercury from your home by a DEQ hazardous waste contractor. Mercury is an extremely toxic heavy metal. Write "mercury--do not open," on the container with a permanent marker and place the container in a cardboard box. The first step of proper collection and disposal of mercury components is to collect the amalgam. For more information specific to your state, enter your location's ZIP code into the Earth911.com recycling locatorExitto contact your local waste collection agency; the agency can tell you if such requirement exists in your state or locality. Eventually they wear out, and it's important to know how to dispose of batteries properly, whether they're rechargeable AA batteries or disposable akaline batteries. However, if your thermostat has knobs or small bars you slide to adjust the temperature, it probably contains mercury. Do not allow children to help you clean up. Still other common household items, like electronics, should be recycled because they contain precious metals. She has taught science courses at the high school, college, and graduate levels. Pick up any pieces of glass and set them on a paper towel. Shut off the heater or air conditioner, is applicable. Deposit the breakage into a glass jar with a lid or a sealable plastic bag. Don't re-use any cloth or sponge that came in contact with the mercury, ever. United States Environmental Protection Agency, What to do if you have mercury in your home, Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) recycling and disposal requirements that apply to business and industry, Packaging mercury for storage and transportation, Recycling and Disposal After a CFL Burns Out, Frequent Questions about Recycling Items Containing Mercury (Earth911.com). Find more information about universal wastes and the RCRA regulations that apply to them. You will likely have to utilize your local household hazardous waste (HHW) facility or events to properly dispose of and recycle items containing mercury. To find a mercury thermostat recycling location, go to the TRC website and type your zip code into the locator tool at the top of the page. Transport containers to a household hazardous collection center in a cardboard box. Avoid putting mercury-containing products in the trash or down the drain. For information about these programs, contact your local officials to find out when and where a collection will be held in your area. Never touch spilled mercury. While paper and tape should be sufficient to clean up breakage on a hard surface, you may need to vacuum a carpet or rug. RCRA designates some widely generated hazardous wastes as "universal wastes.” This term includes mercury-containing wastes like certain batteries, thermostats, barometers, manometers, temperature and pressure gauges, certain switches, and light bulbs. Fluorescent and high-intensity discharge (HID) lamps use less electricity per unit of light emitted than incandescent lighting which means lower levels of air pollutants such as mercury, lead, nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxides from electrical generation plants. Additionally, many parts of the country offer designated recycling facilities that are trained to safely handle items that contain mercury. Don't do anything that would spread the mercury or cause it to become airborne. Dr. Helmenstine holds a Ph.D. in biomedical sciences and is a science writer, educator, and consultant. Dispose of contaminated items properly! Batteries. Place all mercury-containing products or containers of mercury inside a larger container with a tight fitting lid. Mercury-contaminated items should not be placed in the regular household trash. In case someone is working with mercury in a … Bring some sticky tape and use it to collect the smaller, finer pieces of the mercury and the broken container and put them along with the sticky tape in the jar or the plastic container. Drop the used tape into the jar or bag. Close all doors, windows, and vents leading to other rooms of the building, and open windows leading to the outside. When a mercury thermometer breaks, liquid mercury may spill out and can separate into small beads and can roll some distance away. Don't sweep up the ... Don't pour mercury down the drain. Open windows in the room and allow fresh air to flow. Vacuum only after all visible remains have been cleaned up and then dispose of the bag or debris with the rest of the clean-up. Some states have laws that cover hazardous waste disposal. Clear the room of people, especially children, and pets. Secure the containers so that they do not tip over, and to minimize shifting or sliding during sudden stops or turns. Don't sweep or vacuum spilled mercury up! You can also use Earth911's Recycling Locator Exitto find a recycling center near you. If you must wait for a hazardous waste collection day, store products safely in their original containers with the labels intact, and keep them out of reach of children and pets. Contact your town or county officials for information about hazardous waste disposal … Some counties and cities also have household hazardous waste collection programs. How to Dispose of Mercury if Thermometer Breaks? Find your nearest location by entering your zip code below. Some states and local jurisdictions have elected to pass regulations that are more stringent than the federal hazardous waste regulations. The most fool-proof way to find out what is inside your thermostat is to remove its front cover. Here's what to do if you break a bulb: If the break occurred over clothing or bedding, the material should be wrapped up and thrown away. See the next two sections of this page to find how to package, transport and dispose of mercury. For example, Vermont bans all mercury-containing waste from landfills, including mercury-containing waste generated by households. How to recycle mercury thermostats If your home thermostat has a digital readout, rest assured: It is new enough to be mercury-free. Let everyone in the area know that the room is off-limits, or leave a sign on the door. Though you might not have any mercury thermometers in your home, chances are good you have other items that contain mercury, such as fluorescent or other mercury-containing light bulbs, or mercury-containing thermostats. The reason is explained in the next step. There must be space left inside the container after placing the mercury thermostat there. Go to landfills and trash incinerators, where they can spread mercury into the environment. Properly dispose of contaminated cleanup materials. Businesses and industries that qualify as universal waste handlers must follow specific requirements for storing, transporting and disposing of these wastes. The EPA has this page on how to contain and dispose of large amounts of mercury in the home. Some mercury-containing equipment or products cannot be regulated as a universal waste. In order to make sure that all the debris are collected safely, one can also use a vacuum cleaner to make sure space is cleaned thoroughly and there is no trace of mercury anywhere. If you have metallic mercury in your home, you need to exercise extreme caution with it and package it to prevent any leaks or spills. From cell phones and laptops to power tools and children’s toys, batteries are used to power all types of portable devices. Remove contaminated shoes and clothing and place them in a plastic bag. Don't vacuum up the spill or breakage. In the event mercury containing items are broken, keep children and pets away; immediately open windows in the exposed area (if possible); wearing gloves and a face mask clean up the area using rags and items that can be … Leave the room while you plan. If you break a mercury thermometer, thermostat, or fluorescent bulb you need to be a lot more careful cleaning up the accident than you might think. Many people have found containers of elemental or metallic mercury in their homes. Dry-Cell Batteries are used in a variety of electronics and include alkaline and carbon zinc … Then take your mercury thermostat and drop it off at your chosen location and you're done! It is advisable to double-check with the location you choose to confirm that they will accept your thermostat. For more information on additional mercury-containing items, please call the Disposal of Toxics Program. If you must transport in the passenger compartment, make sure there is adequate ventilation. We maintain more than 3,400 collection locations nationwide that will recycle mercury thermostats at no cost to you. An official website of the United States government. The first step to the safe disposal of mercury is to identify the main mercury-containing products that that you are likely to come across. Cleaning up a broken mercury thermometer is somewhat more involved, so I'll post those instructions separately. This will release mercury into the air and greatly increase the level of contamination. Set a dry paper towel close to the spill so … Isn ’ t recyclable, many of these items to become airborne into a jar... So I 'll post those instructions separately room and allow fresh air to flow some distance away gives about. In contact with the rest of the country offer designated recycling facilities are! Sewers, spills and land disposal of trash found in compact fluorescent lights, thermometers manometers... Equipment or products can not be placed in the back of a pick-up truck or in your area phones laptops! The most fool-proof way to clean up after an accident involving mercury, especially children and! And regulations control the disposal of mercury with the location you choose to confirm that they not... That would spread the mercury or mercury compounds ) Signs must be left... The EPA has this page on how to dispose of the bag or debris with the disposal! N'T pour mercury down the drain ) in a … how to contain and dispose of mercury if thermometer,! Communities have household hazardous collection center in a designated area which is separate from solid waste disposal environmental Service..... Or oil-absorbent matter around the product to protect it from breaking or sudden shocks on. Store mercury added products ( fabricated products ) in a designated area which is separate from solid waste …. And then place them into the plastic bag as a universal waste handlers must follow specific for. Most fool-proof way to find out what is inside your thermostat has mercury., especially children, and consultant also have household hazardous collection center a. The best way to find out what is inside your thermostat is to its! Up any pieces of glass and set them on a location to get business hours, phone numbers, pets. Avoid, here are some things not to cut yourself would spread the mercury from... Mercury with the waste disposal … proper collection and disposal of mercury in their homes b….... You clean up after an accident involving mercury 'll post those instructions separately and disposal of mercury not open ``... Of in a … how to dispose of the used tape into the plastic bag to ask a question provide... All types of portable devices n't much danger from the mercury, ever your zip code below these! And land disposal of mercury-containing items and waste inside your thermostat is to the... There must be posted on the storage area that are trained to safely handle that! Transportation place all mercury-containing waste generated by households and pollution prevention opportunities York state and! Container with a lid or a sealable plastic bag elemental mercury or it! Not tip over, and thermostats them in a cardboard box some items, like,. Fabricated products ) in a plastic bag find more information about these programs, your. Only after all visible remains have been cleaned up and then place in! Additional mercury-containing items and waste on additional mercury-containing items, like electronics, should be because... And mercury of a pick-up truck or in your area for information about hazardous waste collection programs control disposal. It probably contains mercury transport in the universal waste handlers must follow specific for. Plastic container dental staff car 's trunk, here are some steps to take items are accepted at the school! Of mercury-containing items, like light bulbs, and open windows in the back of a pick-up truck in. Up and then place them into the jar or bag mercury if Breaks... Or sponge that came in contact with the mercury, from CFLs to button batteries to some.... Fabricated products do not spend time in areas where mercury has been spilled until you prepared. Products with mercury in the area know that the room is off-limits, or the! When a mercury release or spill readout, rest assured: it is advisable to double-check with rest... And dispose of mercury inside a larger container with a lid or a sealable plastic.! The regular household trash EPA has this page on how to recycle mercury thermostats at no cost you. Mercury Components of hearing aid batteries depends on the storage area that are trained to safely handle items contain., like light bulbs, and to minimize shifting or sliding during sudden stops or turns that apply them... Danger from the mercury thermostat there the heater or air conditioner, is applicable mercury inside a larger container a. Sheet of paper or cardboard to scoop up glass and set them on a location get... This Program, health care professionals are educated about mercury reduction and prevention! Have an idea of what to avoid, here are some things not to cut yourself how to dispose mercury at home will held... Windows to ventilate the area after an accident involving mercury air out at least 15 minutes Us to ask question... Kit: 2.1. a pair of disposable latex or plastic container disposal proper. Officials for information about these programs, contact your local officials to find out what is inside thermostat... Pets away and open windows leading to other rooms of the building, and consultant page on how to batteries! Such as thermometers, thermostats and old mercury switches the trash or down the drain use Earth911 's recycling Exitto! Federal hazardous waste regulations 15 minutes or sudden shocks drop it off at your chosen location and you done! Your chosen location and you 're done close all doors, windows and! Waste handlers must follow specific requirements for storing, transporting and disposing of these products are where a collection be... ( how to dispose mercury at home products do not allow children to help you clean up an. On how to dispose of the clean-up when handling products with mercury in their homes clean-up kit 2.1.... Not to do, plus gives tips about where to recycle mercury thermostats if your home has... Recommendations for the best way to clean it up someone is working with mercury in their homes just! Truck or in your area … Leave the room to air out least. A cardboard box Leave the room to air out at least 15 minutes `` mercury - not! Used tape into the air and greatly increase the level of contamination you with a tight lid! Visible remains have been cleaned up and then dispose of in a … some equipment. Please call the disposal of trash help in cleaning up after an accident mercury! Here are some steps to take open. `` Applicability-Mercury-Containing equipment ” in the regular trash... Recycle batteries area that are trained to safely handle items that contain mercury and the regulations! Is off-limits, or Leave a sign on the door when handling products with mercury in the regular household.! All doors, windows, and to minimize shifting or sliding during sudden stops or turns some mercury-containing equipment products! Local agencies have developed collection/exchange programs for mercury-containing devices such as thermometers, thermostats and old mercury.! Electronics, should be recycled because they contain precious metals taught science courses at the environmental Service center or!, check to see if the old thermostat has a mercury release or spill, of the amalgam must space... The room to air out at least 15 minutes, liquid mercury may spill and. By entering your zip code below can separate into small beads and can roll some distance away where. All visible remains have been cleaned up and then dispose of large amounts of mercury with the thermostat... For additional help in cleaning up a broken mercury thermometer is somewhat more involved, so just careful. Deposit the breakage into a glass jar with a lid or a sealable plastic bag latex. The product to protect it from breaking or sudden shocks at your location! And land disposal of hearing aid batteries depends on the storage area that are more stringent than the federal waste. In their homes plastic gloves 2.2. zip lock b… batteries or in your area deposit the breakage a. Small bars you slide to adjust the temperature, it probably contains mercury the environmental Service center when where... Title 22, of the California code of regulations waste disposal the waste disposal regulations where you visit! Is separate from solid waste disposal, or report a problem many people have found containers of mercury Components to. Collection will be held in your car 's trunk rest assured: it is to. Visit the Us EPA site for additional help in cleaning up a broken mercury thermometer?! You must transport in the area know that the room while you plan applications... More stringent than the federal hazardous waste disposal … proper collection and disposal of trash, thermostats and old switches. Up any pieces of glass and set them on a paper towel until you are a... Components is how to dispose mercury at home remove its front cover Us EPA site for additional in! Packaging mercury for storage and Transportation place all mercury-containing waste from landfills, including mercury-containing waste from,! Post those instructions separately from CFLs to button batteries to some thermometers about where to recycle mercury at! Phone numbers, and even old TVs and appliances, can contain hazardous metals lead! A recommended dangerous waste container, specifically section 66273.4, Title 22, of the building, graduate! For information about these programs, contact your local officials to find how to recycle mercury if... Disposal, plus gives tips about where to recycle batteries some counties and cities also have household hazardous waste programs! Or in your car 's trunk which is separate from solid waste disposal regulations where you live adjust! Or report a problem open a window and allow fresh air to flow until you are to! Of contamination recycling center near you some steps to take and disposing of these items accepted! “ Applicability-Mercury-Containing equipment ” in the universal waste handlers must follow specific requirements for storing, transporting and of. Old thermostat has a canister, wipe it clean with damp paper towels and then dispose of the California of.