There are many products and devices that we come into contact at home or work that may contain mercury. Below you will find a list of some of these items. If you work with any of these items or have them in your home, be careful to keep them out of the trash or drain when they reach the end of their useful lives. Mercury doesn't breakdown and go away, it only alters its form. When products containing mercury are placed in the trash, the mercury can take one of two routes back into our water:
- If your trash is landfilled, the mercury can eventually leak out of the landfill and enter groundwater.
- If your trash is incinerated, the mercury could be released as a vapor into the air and return to waterways from rain and snow.
Once in waterways, bacteria can transform mercury into its more toxic form, methyl mercury.
Products That May Contain Mercury
- Thermometers with silver bulbs
- All fluorescent and HID lamps, some neon lamps, and "bug zappers"
- Batteries: mercuric oxide and some alkaline batteries
- Various switches and relays in electronics (e.g., clothes irons, curling irons, computers, cellular/portable phones, sump pumps, and some appliance lid lights)
- Pilot light flame sensors
- Gauges (e.g., barometers, manometers)
- Automotive HID and Xenon headlamps, some interior lights, some hood/trunk lights, and entertainment systems
- Mercurochrome®/merbromin (topical disinfectant)
- Thimerosal (preservative found in some nasal sprays and older contact lens solutions) and other drug uses
- Weight/counterweight in grandfather clocks
- Jewelry (usually glass ampules made in Mexico)
- Spiritual/ritual use in some Caribbean/Hispanic communities
- Vintage toys (e.g., the Mercury Maze game)
- Some chemistry sets
- And some people have jars of elemental mercury (a silver liquid) just sitting around!
Instruments And Solutions In the Health Care Field That May Contain Mercury
- Gastrointestinal tubes (e.g., bougies, feeding tubes, cantor tubes, esophageal dilators)
- Various thermometers (incubators, laboratory, fever, etc.)
- Sphygmomanometers (blood pressure devices)
- Pressure gauges (e.g., barometers, manometers, vacuum gauges, x-ray tubes, heating pad tilt switches)
- Pharmaceutical supplies (e.g., vaccines with thimerosal, early pregnancy kits with mercury containing preservatives, diuretics with mersalyl or phenlymercuric nitrate)
- Batteries (e.g., alarms, defibrillators, hearing aids, pacemakers, ultrasound machines, ventilators)
- Electrical equipment (e.g. building security systems, fire alarm switch boxes)
- Dental "silver" amalgam
- Laboratory solutions
- Histology stains and fixatives (B5)
If contact with mercury occurs, call your State, or National Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222!