How To Dispose Of Mercury

Mercury is a toxic metal that can cause serious health problems if it is not properly disposed of. The Environmental Protection Agency has strict guidelines for mercury disposal, so it’s important to know what you’re supposed to do with the stuff. Here are some tips on how to get rid of mercury in your home.

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What is mercury?

Mercury is a naturally occurring element that is found in air, water and soil. It exists in three forms: elemental (or metallic), inorganic, and organic. Mercury is a shiny, silver-white metal that is liquid at room temperature. It is sometimes called quicksilver.

Elemental mercury is used in some thermostats, mercury switches, some fluorescent light bulbs (including CFLs), some electrical relays and batteries. Elemental mercury is a liquid metal and it is the only form of mercury that is normally found in homes.

Inorganic mercury compounds are used in certain types of thermometers, pressure gauges, hair dyes and pigments, some fungicides and certain electrical products.

Organic mercury compounds are found in some disinfectants, pest control products, wood preservatives, automotive products and certain intermediates used to make vinyl chloride monomer (VCM). Methylmercury is the type of organic mercury most commonly found in the environment. It can build up or accumulate in fish and shellfish which people can eat as part of their diet.

Where does mercury come from?

Mercury is a naturally occurring element that is found in air, water and soil. It is also released into the environment through human activities such as coal-fired power plants, incineration of certain waste materials, and the mining and smelting of metals.

Exposure to mercury can occur when using certain products or working in certain jobs. For example, mercury is used in thermometers, some lighting products, some switches and relays, some medical devices, and in dental amalgams. It is also used in some manufacturing processes.

Mercury exposure can be harmful to your health. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) have more information on mercury and its health effects.

If you have a product that contains mercury, please follow the instructions below on how to safely dispose of it:

-If you are a home user:

-Take your product to a local recycling center that accepts mercury-containing products. Please call ahead to confirm that they are still accepting these products.

-If you are a business:

-Contact your state’s pediatrics department for information on where to recycle these items within your state.

How does mercury enter the environment?

Mercury is a heavy metal that is found in natural deposits and is used in many products we use every day. It is a shiny, silvery-white liquid at room temperature and is sometimes referred to as quicksilver.

How does mercury enter the environment?

Mercury enters the environment from both natural and human sources. Natural sources of mercury include forest fires, volcanic eruptions, and the erosion of soils and rocks. Once in the air, mercury can travel long distances before falling back to Earth. Human-caused sources of mercury emissions to the air include coal-fired power plants, incinerators, cement kilns, and gold mining.

Most of the mercury emitted to the air eventually falls into water bodies where it can be transformed into methylmercury, a highly toxic form of mercury that can accumulate in fish, shellfish, and animals that eat fish. People are exposed to methylmercury primarily by eating contaminated fish and shellfish.

What are the health effects of mercury exposure?

There are many different forms of mercury, but the type that is most commonly found in thermometers is called elemental or metallic mercury. Mercury is a chronic toxicant that can harm many different systems in your body if you are exposed to it. It is particularly harmful to the nervous system.

Exposure to high levels of methylmercury can cause serious health problems and even death. Methylmercury exposure in pregnant women can damage the developing nervous system of the fetus and cause learning problems, mental retardation, cerebral palsy, and blindness in children. Children exposed to high levels of methylmercury may have problems with their vision, hearing, attention span, fine motor skills (such as writing or playing musical instruments), or coordination. Methylmercury exposure can also cause tremors, irritability, mood changes, and changes in nerve responses.

In adults, mercury exposure has been linked to cardiovascular disease and an increased risk for tremors and poor coordination.

How can I reduce my exposure to mercury?

You can reduce your exposure to mercury by:

-Checking your home for old mercury thermometers and disposing of them properly. Recycling mercury thermometers is the best way to reduce mercury pollution.

-Checking your business for old mercury thermostats and switches and disposing of them properly. Recycling mercury thermostats and switches is the best way to reduce mercury pollution.

-Finding out if your state has a Mercury Switch Removal Program. This program helps businesses and consumers recycle old mercury switches from cars.

-Checking with your local pediatrician or the EPA’s Mercury Hotline for more information on how to reduce your exposure to mercury.

What should I do if I think I have been exposed to mercury?

If you think you have been exposed to mercury, contact your health care provider or the poison control center at 1-800-222-1222 for guidance on what to do. If you have a mercury thermometer, you can recycle it through your city or county recycling program or a business that recycles mercury-containing thermostats and thermometers. For more information about recycling mercury-containing thermostats and thermometers, see the EPA’s Thermostat Recycling Corporation Program.

What are some common products that contain mercury?

Mercury is a naturally occurring element that is found in air, water and soil. It is also a component of many products we use every day. While mercury is an important resource that has many uses, it can also be harmful to human health and the environment.

Common products that contain mercury include:


-Fluorescent light bulbs

-High intensity discharge (HID) light bulbs

-Button cell batteries

-Dental amalgams

-Some compressors used in refrigeration and air conditioning systems

Some industries use mercury in their processes, such as gold mining, coal burning power plants, waste incineration and the production of chlorine bleach.

If you have a mercury thermometer or other product that contains mercury, it’s important to know how to properly dispose of it. Mercury should never be thrown in the trash. Homeowners can usually recycle these products for free at local recycling centers. If you own a business that uses or produces products containing mercury, please see our Businesses & Recycling page for more information on recycling options and state regulations.

How can I find out if a product contains mercury?

How can I find out if a product contains mercury?

You can usually find this information:

-On the product label

-In the product’s Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS)

-By contacting the manufacturer, distributor, or importer of the product

If you cannot find this information, ask your local hazardous waste management facility, your state environmental agency, or the EPA.

What are some safe alternatives to products that contain mercury?

If you have a product that contains mercury, such as a thermostat, switch or compact fluorescent light bulb (CFL), you should take advantage of available recycling programs rather than disposing of it in the trash. Homeowners, businesses and other organizations can find information about mercury-containing product recycling options on the Recycling page. Some states also have product-specific disposal requirements.

If you have a broken mercury-containing thermostat, EPA recommends that you:

– Carefully scoop up glass fragments and powder using stiff paper or cardboard and place them in a sealable container.

– Wipe the area clean with a damp cloth.

– Place all cleaning materials, as well as the broken thermostat, in the sealable container.

How can I dispose of products that contain mercury?

You should not simply throw these products in the trash. Uncontrolled mercury release can cause health and environmental problems. Many states have laws that control how these products can be disposed. Please check with your state’s recycling or waste management agency for specific instructions.

You can recycle some mercury-containing products, such as compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs, thermometers, and thermostats.

-Compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs: CFLs that are burned out or broken can be recycled through participating retailers and at some hospital, local government, and business recycling programs. Visit EPA’s CFL page for more information on proper recycling and disposal of CFLs.

-Thermometers: Contact your local health department, waste management agency, or retailer about proper disposal and recycling options in your area.

-Thermostats: Some retailers that sell thermostats will accept them for recycling when you purchase a new one. You can also check with your state’s waste management agency to see if there are any special programs in your area for disposing of old mercury thermostats.

Mercury is a heavy metal that can be dangerous for humans to come into contact with. It’s important to know how to dispose of mercury so it doesn’t pose any danger. Reference: mercury disposal cost.

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