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Don't Mess with Mercury


Many common household items contain small amounts of mercury. These items pose no threat when used properly; however, they can be dangerous if they are misused or improperly discarded. The following is a list of a few items that potentially contain mercury. Please remember that items on this list do not necessarily contain mercury, as many mercury-free alternatives exist. If you suspect that you have mercury containing items, contact the manufacturer for proper disposal information when they need to be replaced or discarded.


Non-digital thermostats, including some in appliances:
  • Stoves
  • Ovens
  • Water heaters
  • Clothes dryers
  • Furnaces
  • Space heaters

Some switches or relays in:
  • Chest freezers
  • Washing machines
  • Sump pumps
  • Clothes irons
  • Electric space heaters
  • Silent light switches

Some types of lights:
  • Fluorescent lamps**
  • High-intensity discharge (HID) bulbs

Some medicine cabinet items:
  • Fever thermometers
  • Mercurochrome
  • Merthiolate
  • Saline Solutions

Miscellaneous items:
  • Button-cell batteries
  • Unused pre-1990 paint
  • Old alkaline batteries
  • Clock pendulums

*This list is not intended to be comprehensive.
**Fluorescent lamps are more energy-efficient than their alternatives and should continue to be used.

For additional information - please visit the websites listed below:
A Little Bit Goes A Long Way
  • Forty-four states now issue warnings about eating mercury contaminated fish.
  • There is between a half of a gram (0 .02 oz.) and three grams (0.1 oz.) of mercury in a fever thermometer.
  • The EPA has determined that the level of mercury safe for fish-eating wildlife in the Great Lakes is no more than 1.3 billionths of a gram of mercury per liter of water (0.17 billionths of an ounce of mercury per gallon of water). This is equivalent to a drop of mercury the size of a pencil-tip eraser in a pool of water as long, wide and deep as Cleveland Browns Stadium.