Your home is no place for it.

Mercury is found in glass fever thermometers, some thermostats, and fluorescent bulbs. Mercury is a poison that is especially harmful to babies, small children, and pregnant or nursing women.

Broken mercury thermometer? Broken fluorescent bulb?
Do not put it in the garbage. For what to do next, call Anoka County Recycling and Resource Solutions at 763-324-3400, Mon - Fri, 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. or see Cleaning up spilled mercury in the home (PDF) (an Adobe Acrobat file on the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency website).

Questions about other items containing mercury? Call Anoka County Recycling and Resource Solutions at 763-324-3400, Mon - Fri, 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

How to identify a mercury fever thermometer.

Mercury fever thermometers are glass and have about the same diameter as a drinking straw. The liquid inside appears black or silvery gray. This liquid is mercury.

rectal mercury thermometer color straight

Don't put mercury in the garbage or down the drain!

Do not put mercury in the garbage or pour it down the drain, in the sewer, or on the ground. If you no longer want items with mercury in your home, do not throw them in the garbage. In Minnesota, it is illegal to put mercury in the garbage (Minnesota Statutes § 115A.932).

Take household items that contain mercury to the Anoka County Household Hazardous Waste Facility.

Anoka County residents may drop off mercury thermometers, mercury thermostats, fluorescent or HID bulbs and CFLs, or other household hazardous waste at no charge.

Transport your mercury thermometer in its original case or in a rigid container to avoid breakage. If you don’t have the case or a rigid container, put the thermometer in a small plastic bag.

Recycle fluorescent bulbs

Do not put used or broken fluorescent lamps in the garbage. In Minnesota, it is illegal to put an intact or broken fluorescent lamp in the garbage (Minnesota Statutes § 115A.932). For more information about recycling fluorescent bulbs, search Fluorescent Bulbs in our Recycling and Disposal Directory.

Fluorescent Light Bulb

Why be concerned about mercury?

Mercury is a nerve toxin that affects the brain and spinal cord. It is especially dangerous when mercury vapor is inhaled.

Mercury is particularly toxic to the developing nervous system of a fetus or young child. Having a mercury fever thermometer in your home can be a potential risk to the health of your family and community. If mercury spills from a thermometer and is not cleaned up properly, it evaporates and could reach dangerous levels in indoor air. It is very difficult to clean up spilled mercury completely.

Mercury in the air will fall with rain into lakes and streams. It is converted to methyl mercury in the environment. Once it is in the water, methyl mercury may build up in the tissues of humans and animals, including certain types of fish. When fish consumption advisories are not followed, eating mercury-contaminated fish can lead to mercury poisoning.

Minnesota retailers can no longer sell mercury fever thermometers (Minnesota Statutes § 116.92).  

It’s in your hands: You can help keep mercury out of your home, the air we breathe, our lakes and streams, and the fish we eat.