Mercury-Containing Devices

The following is a list of devices that contain mercury, identification of mercury devices, and information on proper disposal.

All mercury containing devices, including those listed below,  must not be disposed of in the regular trash.

THERMOMETERSPRESSURE AND OTHER GAUGESMERCURY-CONTAINING SWITCHESMERCURY FLAME SENSORS AND TEMPERATURE PROBESMERCURY BUTTON CELL BATTERIES


Thermometers that Contain Mercury

There are various types of thermometers used for many applications. One common type is the fever thermometer. Vermont legislation has banned the sale of mercury thermometers. All mercury containing thermometers and manometers must not be disposed of in the regular trash.

Identifying Thermometers that Contain Mercury

  • fever and basal thermometers,
  • oven, candy and meat thermometers,
  • indoor/outdoor thermometers,
  • laboratory thermometers,
  • temperature measuring devices in industrial applications

A mercury thermometer can be easily identified by the presence of a silver bulb. (One exception to this is the new fever thermometers containing gallium, indium and tin that also contain a silver bulb but are clearly marked “mercury-free.”) If the bulb is red, blue, purple, green or any other color, it is not a mercury thermometer.

Disposal Information

Households should dispose of mercury containing thermometers and any waste created from the cleanup of broken thermometers at local household hazardous waste collection events sponsored by their local municipality or solid waste district.

For additional information regarding disposal of thermometers and other mercury-containing devices, see FACT SHEET: Mercury Spills.


Mercury-Containing Pressure and Other Gauges

Devices that measure pressure may contain mercury. Barometers, manometers and vacuum gauges all have a gauge for reading air pressure. Liquid mercury in the gauges responds to air pressure in a precise way that can be read on a calibrated scale. Many barometers, sphygmomanometers (blood pressure monitors), vacuum gauges contain mercury ranging from 100 to 500 grams or more. These devices cannot be disposed of in the regular trash and most are banned from sale.

Identifying pressure and other gauges may contain mercury

  • barometers (used in weather instrumentation for measuring air pressure),
  • hygrometers (used in weather instrumentation to measure the amount of moisture or water vapor in the air),
  • manometers (used to measure vacuum pressure, i.e. on farms to measure vacuum pressure in milking equipment),
  • sphygmomanometers (blood pressure measuring devices),
  • hydrometers (used to measure the specific gravity of fluids in maple sugaring, wine and beer making, etc.)

Disposal Information

Households and small businesses should dispose of mercury-containing pressure and other gauges and any waste created from the cleanup of broken gauges at local household hazardous waste collection events sponsored by their local municipality or solid waste district.

For additional information regarding disposal of pressure and other mercury-containing gauges as well as other mercury-containing devices, see FACT SHEET: Mercury Spills.


Mercury-Containing Switches

The most common type of switch containing mercury is the tilt switch. Tilt switches are activated by a change in orientation (e.g. turning on/off the light in a vehicle engine compartment when the hood is opened and closed). Vermont legislation has banned the sale of mercury-containing switches.

Identifying Products Containing Mercury Switches

Tilt switches are found in a variety of products including chest freezers, clothes washers, clothes irons, space heaters, laptop computers, and sump and bilge pumps.

Disposal Information

Many of the products containing mercury switches are appliances, also referred to as "white goods", and have been banned from disposal in Vermont landfills. To dispose of white goods:

  • Bring useable or repairable appliances to a company that can refurbish them and sell them at reduced rates to needy families.
  • Bring unusable appliances to a local solid waste collection center in your area.

Households should dispose of other items which may contain mercury switches (e.g. sump pumps, clothes irons, space heaters, etc.) at local household collection center.


Mercury-Containing Flame Sensors and Temperature Probes

Mercury-containing flame sensors and temperature probes may be found in gas-fired appliances. A flame sensor or temperature probe consists of a metal bulb and thin tube attached to a gas-control valve. The mercury is contained inside the tube and expands or contracts to open and shut the valve. Mercury is contained in the probe and capillary tube on the device. Do not attempt to remove the capillary tube from the device or even the device from the appliance to avoid the release of mercury. These devices should not be disposed of in the regular trash.

Identifying Mercury-Containing Flame Sensors and Temperature Probes

Several types of gas-fired appliances that have pilot lights may have mercury-containing flame sensors or temperature probes including: ranges, ovens, gas clothes dryers, gas water heaters, gas furnaces, and space heaters.

Disposal Information

The appliances listed above are referred to as "white goods" and have been banned from disposal in Vermont landfills. To dispose of white goods:

  • Bring useable or repairable appliances to a company that can refurbish them and sell them at reduced rates to needy families.
  • Bring unusable appliances to a local solid waste collection center in your area.

Mercury-Containing Button Cell Batteries

Button Cell BatteriesMercury was discontinued from regular alkaline batteries in 1996. Mercury is still used in button cell batteries in many of the types listed below; however, many battery manufacturers are phasing out the use of mercury in button cell batteries.

 Do not place MERCURY button cell batteries in the regular trash. It is recommended, to place the spent batteries in a sealed childproof container out of reach of children. Batteries are known to be a choking hazard..

Identifying Button Cell Batteries that Contain Mercury

The following types of button cell batteries may contain mercury: alkaline manganese, silver oxide, zinc-air, and mercuric-oxide

Button cell batteries are typically used in items such as: watches, hearing aids, garage door openers (stacked cells), pace makers, digital thermometers, bicycle odometer/speedometer, some children's toys and games.

Disposal Information

SINGLE-USE AND RECHARGEABLE BATTERIES

Old single-use, alkaline batteries (AA, AAA, 9V, D-Cell, C-Cell, button cell, etc.) can be dropped-off at more than 100+ convenient locations throughout Vermont. Find a location near you

Agency of Natural Resources
Department of Environmental Conservation
Waste Management and Prevention Division

Davis Building - 1st Floor
One National Life Drive
Montpelier, VT 05620-3704
802-828-1138