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. 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. There are many state and local programs for recycling or disposing items that contain mercury. Mercury from medical applications can enter the environment through sewers, spills and land disposal of trash. 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. Make special effort to ensure that children stay away. Dispose of contaminated items properly! Find resources for getting rid of mercury. Once your results populate, click on a location to get business hours, phone numbers, and directions. Clear the room of people, especially children, and pets. The disposal of hearing aid batteries depends on the type of battery and if it contains mercury. Additionally, many parts of the country offer designated recycling facilities that are trained to safely handle items that contain mercury. 1. Find your nearest location by entering your zip code below. Some states have laws that cover hazardous waste disposal. Cleaning up a broken mercury thermometer is somewhat more involved, so I'll post those instructions separately. To find out how to get rid of the mercury in your school: This Home Depot guide has information on proper disposal, plus gives tips about where to recycle batteries. Households are exempt from these regulations. Store mercury added products (fabricated products) in a designated area which is separate from solid waste disposal. 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. more information about universal wastes and the RCRA regulations that apply to them. Let everyone in the area know that the room is off-limits, or leave a sign on the door. 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. Use sticky tape to pick up the smaller pieces of debris. You can visit the US EPA site for additional help in cleaning up after an accident involving mercury. Properly dispose of contaminated cleanup materials. 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. It is advisable to double-check with the location you choose to confirm that they will accept your thermostat. Drop the used tape into the jar or bag. 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. Transport containers to a household hazardous collection center in a cardboard box. Place all mercury-containing products or containers of mercury inside a larger container with a tight fitting lid. Don't vacuum up the spill or breakage. 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. Packaging Mercury for Storage and Transportation Place all mercury-containing products or containers of mercury inside a larger container with a tight fitting lid. Many communities have household hazardous waste collection events or sites where you can safely dispose of these items. Transport containers in the back of a pick-up truck or in your car's trunk. Don't re-use any cloth or sponge that came in contact with the mercury, ever. You can also use Earth911's Recycling Locator Exitto find a recycling center near you. Some counties and cities also have household hazardous waste collection programs. However, if your thermostat has knobs or small bars you slide to adjust the temperature, it probably contains mercury. 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. 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. Don't sweep up the ... Don't pour mercury down the drain. Some items, like light bulbs, and even old TVs and appliances, can contain hazardous metals like lead and mercury. 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). 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. 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. Seal the bag and place it in another bag. When handling products with mercury: Do not break, crush, or disassemble the items. Mercury is an extremely toxic heavy metal. Fluorescent bulbs and compact fluorescent bulbs contain small amounts of mercury. Collection of the amalgam must be done carefully as it can prove hazardous to the patient and dental staff. 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. 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. Wipe off any visible beads of mercury with the wet paper towels and then place them into the plastic bag. Check product labels. From cell phones and laptops to power tools and children’s toys, batteries are used to power all types of portable devices. 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. 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. 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 … Gather the clean-up kit: 2.1. a pair of disposable latex or plastic gloves 2.2. zip lock b… Some states and local jurisdictions have elected to pass regulations that are more stringent than the federal hazardous waste regulations. Don't do anything that would spread the mercury or cause it to become airborne. 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. Drop-off thermometers at: West Valley College Student Health Services - 14000 Fruitvale Ave, Saratoga Contact Us to ask a question, provide feedback, or report a problem. How Can I Dispose of Mercury Waste? Store items out of the way in bubble wrap or boxes until you can take them to the Disposal of Toxics facility; Spill Assistance She has taught science courses at the high school, college, and graduate levels. The most fool-proof way to find out what is inside your thermostat is to remove its front cover. 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. It can clog your plumbing and seriously pollute your septic system … For more information on additional mercury-containing items, please call the Disposal of Toxics Program. Several states and municipalities do not recognize the exemption for households; others regulate all fluorescent bulbs as hazardous, regardless of their mercury content. You will likely have to utilize your local household hazardous waste (HHW) facility or events to properly dispose of and recycle items containing mercury. Never touch spilled mercury. We maintain more than 3,400 collection locations nationwide that will recycle mercury thermostats at no cost to you. Don't sweep or vacuum spilled mercury up! If that is not available, use a throwaway glass or plastic container. Use a sheet of paper or cardboard to scoop up glass and metal pieces. (fabricated products do not include elemental mercury or mercury compounds) Signs must be posted on the storage area that are clearly visible. Dr. Helmenstine holds a Ph.D. in biomedical sciences and is a science writer, educator, and consultant. There must be space left inside the container after placing the mercury thermostat there. Keep people and pets away and open windows to ventilate the area. New York State Rules and Regulations control the disposal of mercury-containing items and waste. ThoughtCo uses cookies to provide you with a great user experience. Open a window and allow the room to air out at least 15 minutes. 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. These items are accepted at the Environmental Service Center.. 2. Through this program, health care professionals are educated about mercury reduction and pollution prevention opportunities. The EPA has this page on how to contain and dispose of large amounts of mercury in the home. Now that you have an idea of what to avoid, here are some steps to take. Pick up any pieces of glass and set them on a paper towel. Go to landfills and trash incinerators, where they can spread mercury into the environment. Place kitty litter or oil-absorbent matter around the product to protect it from breaking or sudden shocks. Close all doors, windows, and vents leading to other rooms of the building, and open windows leading to the outside. Many people have found containers of elemental or metallic mercury in their homes. Mercury-contaminated items should not be placed in the regular household trash. When a mercury thermometer breaks, liquid mercury may spill out and can separate into small beads and can roll some distance away. In case someone is working with mercury in a … Businesses and industries that qualify as universal waste handlers must follow specific requirements for storing, transporting and disposing of these wastes. 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