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Environmental Health & Safety
Hazardous Waste Management Manual - Appendices

PRODUCTS CONTAINING MERCURY

Disposal concerns

Many commercially produced products and items contain metallic mercury and/or mercury compounds. Mercury is regulated under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.   These items or products may be considered a hazardous waste when disposed and therefore can not be sent to the city solid waste facility.

All mercury containing products and items must be disposed via University Environmental Health and Safety.

The following items are known to contain mercury

Paints:

Prior to 1991, mercury was incorporated into some paint formulations as a biocidal agent. Generally mercury was used as a biocide in latex paints but may also be found in oil-based paints. All paints containing mercury should be disposed via Environmental Health and Safety.

Thermostats:

Many temperature control devices in residences and business buildings contain an ampule of pure mercury metal. Digital models that do no use mercury are now available. All thermostats containing mercury should be disposed via Environmental Health and Safety. Do not attempt to disassemble the thermostat or otherwise disturb the housing. Package the entire apparatus for pick-up by EH&S. When replacing defective thermostats select a digital type replacement.

Batteries:

Certain types of batteries contain significant amounts of mercury and must be disposed via EH&S. These types include mercury/zinc "button" batteries typically used in hearing aids, watches, calculators and cameras; carbon/zinc batteries; silver oxide batteries; and zinc/air batteries. Alkaline batteries commonly used in items such as flashlights, toys, and other electronics no longer contain significant amounts of mercury and may be disposed in the ordinary garbage.

Agricultural Products:

A very limited number of agricultural fungicides contain mercury. These include fungicides used to control brown mold in freshly sawn lumber, fungicides used to control Dutch elm disease, and fungicides used to control snow mold. These are typically sold under trade names such as Merculine, Mercuram, Mercuric Lactate, Corrosive Sublimate, Puratized B-2, Mercusol and others. Consult EH&S prior to using and disposing of any mercury-containing agricultural products.

Electrical Switches and Dials:

Some electrical switches and dials contain mercury. These items must be disposed via EH&S. Care should be taken to prevent breakage or leakage of mercury when removing these types of items from service and they should be left intact for pick-up by EH&S.

Thermometers, Manometers, etc.:

Mercury thermometers for measuring body and other temperatures are widely used as are other mercury containing devices such as manometers. These devices are regulated as hazardous waste when disposed and present a potential health hazard when broken, drained, or filled. All spills, spill residues, recovered mercury, and unwanted intact mercury devices must be disposed via EH&S. It is highly recommended to replace mercury thermometers with digital or organic liquid thermometers. Do not use mercury thermometers in ovens or other heat producing equipment.

Fluorescent and High Intensity Bulbs:

Certain fluorescent light bulbs and high intensity lamps contain regulated quantities of mercury and must be disposed via EH&S. Care must be taken to avoid breaking these bulbs and they should be boxed in their original packing material before requesting collection by EH&S.


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