Mercury in Consumer Products

Some commercial products contain mercury. If you think a product in your home has mercury, you should know:

  • How to safely handle and store it,
  • How to safely throw it away when you no longer need it,
  • What to do if the mercury spills from a product such as a CFL or thermometer when it breaks.

You should also be aware of products that contain mercury and are not safe for use. Some skin lightening creams, for example, contain mercury and should not be used. 

EPA encourages consumers to consider alternatives to products that contain mercury. For example, digital non-mercury thermometers are a safer alternative to mercury thermometers. 

On this page:

List of Common Consumer Products that Contain Mercury

The following products may contain mercury. Unless otherwise noted these products need to be properly disposed at household hazardous waste collection centers if they contain mercury. Consult your local or state collection program.

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Recycling and Disposing of Items that Contain Mercury

Information for consumers: Please recycle mercury-containing products rather than disposing of them in regular household trash.  Recycling of mercury-containing products is one of the best ways to help prevent mercury releases to the environment by keeping these products out of landfills and incinerators. Once landfilled, mercury from the products may end up in ground water, and potentially in sources of drinking water.  Once incinerated, mercury may end up in the air.

Many states and local agencies have developed collection/exchange programs for mercury-containing devices such as thermometers, manometersHelpmanometer(man-NAH-mut-ter) An instrument for measuring pressure. Usually, a manometer is a glass tube filled with a liquid that is used to measure the difference in pressure across a flow-measuring device such as an orifice or Venturi meter. The instrument used to measure blood pressure is a type of manometer., and thermostats. Some counties and cities also have household hazardous waste collection programs.  For information about these programs, contact your local officials to find out when and where a collection will be held in your area. 

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Information for businesses and industries:  Under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, some widely generated hazardous wastes, including mercury-containing wastes like certain spent batteries, thermostats, barometers, manometers, temperature and pressure gauges, certain switches and light bulbs, are designated as "universal wastes".  Businesses and industries that qualify as universal waste handlers must follow specific requirements for storing, transporting and disposing of these wastes. Households are exempt from these regulations. 

Note that some states and local jurisdictions have elected to pass regulations that are more stringent than the federal hazardous waste regulations. Several states and municipalities do not recognize the exemption for households; others regulate all fluorescent bulbs as hazardous, regardless of their mercury content. For example, Vermont bans all mercury-containing waste from landfills, including mercury-containing waste generated by households. 

More information:

Additional Resources

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What to Do When a Mercury-Containing Product Breaks