Mercury (Hg on the periodic table) is an element that occurs naturally in some rocks, including in coal deposits. You can find it in various older and contemporary everyday electronic products. Examples are LCD TV screens, hospital and lab equipment, and even fluorescent light bulbs.. However, it’s necessary to take care when disposing of it because it can be hazardous to touch and inhale.

Potential Sources of Mercury

While mercury comes in three forms, the type you’re likely to encounter for recycling is elemental (metallic) mercury. Some potential sources of mercury include:

  • Older thermometers
  • Older thermostats
  • Older appliances
  • Antique barometers
  • Antique clock pendulums
  • Antique mirrors
  • Antique vases
  • Antique organs
  • Car switches from cars built before 2003
  • LCD screens and monitors
  • Switches from televisions constructed before 1991
  • Some fluorescent and neon lights
  • Some electrical switches
  • Novelty necklace pendants from Mexico
  • School laboratories
  • Rifle recoil suppressors
  • Button cell, mercuric oxide, and alkaline batteries

Spilled Mercury Properties

When mercury spills out of a broken container, it has interesting properties. Elemental mercury breaks into rounded metallic liquid droplets that attach themselves to certain materials or can fall through small cracks.

An antique barometer that may contain mercury.

Cleaning Spilled Mercury

Mercury can slowly change from liquid to gas without you noticing. This poses a danger, as mercury gas vapors will slowly fill a room if you spill mercury indoors and do not clean it.

You may be able to clean non-porous surfaces (like finished wood, plastic, and sealed flooring) yourself.

However, you should cover the mercury on any porous items (like cloth, carpet, and unfinished wood) with plastic, seal it with tape, and move it preferably outdoors for help from a trained professional.

After cleaning and disposing of all mercury beads, you should air out the room for 24-48 hours.

Mercury Exposure

Mercury can cause serious health effects when you inhale its vapor in high concentrations.

If you accidentally touch mercury, a small amount will possibly pass through your skin. However, it should not be enough to hurt you.

If you’re concerned, your doctor can test to determine if you have higher levels of mercury in your blood than average by taking a blood sample.

Proper Mercury Disposal

You should never dispose of mercury in your everyday trash. Instead, you should find a hazardous waste collection program that recycles mercury or e-waste objects that contain mercury.

To package mercury for transport to your mercury disposal or recycling agency, you will need to do the following:

  1. Secure: Place any mercury or device with mercury inside a container with a tight lid.
  2. Anticipate spills: Add kitty litter or other absorbent material inside the box as insulation to absorb potential spills.
  3. Label: Mark the container with “Mercury–Do not open.”
  4. Store safely: Keep the container in a safe place away from children or pets until you can take it for disposal.
  5. Transport: Transport your mercury container in a cardboard box, secured against tipping or shifting. Transport the container in a truck bed or car trunk. If you don’t have these options, keep the windows rolled down for ventilation.

If you have mercury that needs disposal and are in Newtech Recycling’s service areas, we can pick up your mercury so that you don’t have to worry about transport. Contact us to schedule your mercury pickup today.


Related Terms: CadmiumNickelAluminum


Contact Us Today to Prevent Problems Tomorrow!