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Disposal of Mercury-Containing Pressure and Other Gauges

Devices that measure pressure may contain mercury. Barometers, manometers and vacuum gauges all have a guage for reading air pressure. Liquid mercury in the gauges responds to air pressure in a precise way that can be read on a calibrated scale. Many barometers, sphygmomanometers (blood pressure monitors), vacuum gauges contain mercury ranging from 100 to 500 grams or more. These devices cannot be disposed of in the regular trash. The information provided below will:

  • help you identify gauges which contain mercury,
  • identify mercury-free alternatives if available, and
  • provide information on proper disposal of mercury-containing gauges.

Identifying Gauges that Contain Mercury

The following types of pressure and other gauges may contain mercury:

  • barometers (used in weather instrumentation for measuring air pressure),
  • hygrometers (used in weather instrumentation to measure the amount of moisture or water vapor in the air),
  • manometers (used to measure vacuum pressure, i.e. on farms to measure vacuum pressure in milking equipment),
  • sphygmomanometers (blood pressure measuring devices),
  • hydrometers (used to measure the specific gravity of fluids in maple sugaring, wine and beer making, etc.).

Alternatives Available

Mercury-free pressure and other gauges are available. The mercury-free alternatives include:




Aneroid, digital, bourdon tube, and silicon-based fluid


Aneroid, digital, and spirit-filled


Aneroid, digital, and water or spirits-filled


Aneroid and digital



Disposal Information


Households should dispose of mercury-containing pressure and other gauges and any waste created from the cleanup of broken gauges at local household hazardous waste collection events sponsored by their local municipality or solid waste district.


The following disposal options are available to commercial/institutional generators of mercury-containing pressure and other gauges:

  • Small businesses may be able to dispose of pressure and other mercury-containing gauges at town or solid waste district collection events.
  • Direct shipment as "Universal Waste" to a mercury recycling facility.
  • Shipment through a hazardous waste transporter to a proper destination facility.

For additional information regarding disposal of pressure and other mercury-containing gauges as well as other mercury-containing devices, see FACT SHEET: Mercury Spills.


Mercury Education & Reduction Campaign    103 South Main Street    Waterbury, VT 05671    802-241-3455
MERC is a program of the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation

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