There are devices and products that we often use that contain mercury*.
Mercury is harmful to humans and the environment. Many of these materials are common and seem safe, but if ingested, absorbed into your skin, or inhaled serious and harmful health effects will result.
All mercury containing devices and items are banned from the trash.
Electrical switches and relays
– These typically contain about 3.5 grams of mercury each. Mercury switches can be
found in some chest freezers, pre-1972 washing machines, sump pumps, electric space
heaters, clothes irons, silent light switches, automobile hood and trunk lights, and ABS brakes.
Thermostats that contain mercury
– There is mercury inside the sealed glass "tilt switch" of the old style thermostats (not the newer electronic kind).
Pilot light sensors
– Mercury-containing switches are found in some gas appliances such as stoves, ovens, clothes dryers, water heaters, furnaces, and space heaters.
– Some gauges, such as barometers, manometers, blood pressure, and vacuum gauges contain mercury.
– Mercury thermometers typically contain about a half gram of mercury. Many health clinics, pharmacies and doctor's offices have thermometer exchange programs that will give you a new mercury-free fever thermometer in exchange for your old one.
– Examples include greeting cards that play music when opened; athletic shoes (made before 1997) with flashing lights in soles; and mercury maze games.
*Mercury is extremely toxic and should generally be handled with care; in cases of spills involving mercury (such as from a broken fluorescent lamp or tube) specific cleaning procedures are used to avoid toxic exposure. Use extreme caution when cleaning up a broken lamp. It can be inhaled and absorbed through the skin and mucous membranes. Mercury can cause both chronic and acute poisoning.
(FREE Drop-off at HHW facility)
Residents may, for free, safely and properly dispose of any and all types of mercury containing items at the West County HHW Collection Facility.
Mercury Thermometer Exchange Program