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Disposal of Mercury-Containing Switches

The most common type of switch containing mercury is the tilt switch. Tilt switches are activated by a change in orientation (e.g. turning on/off the light in a vehicle engine compartment when the hood is opened and closed). The information below will:

  • help you identify products that contain mercury switches,
  • identify mercury-free alternatives where available, and
  • provide information on proper disposal of products containing mercury switches.

Identifying Products Containing Mercury Switches

Tilt switches are found in a variety of products including chest freezers, clothes washers, clothes irons, space heaters, laptop computers, and sump and bilge pumps.

Alternatives Available

Alternatives to mercury-containing switches are available and include hard-contact mechanical switches

Disposal Information


Many of the products containing mercury switches are appliances, also referred to as "white goods", and have been banned from disposal in Vermont landfills. To dispose of white goods:

  • Bring useable or repairable appliances to a company that can refurbish them and sell them at reduced rates to needy families.
  • Bring unusable appliances to a local solid waste collection center in your area.

Households should dispose of other items which may contain mercury switches (e.g. sump pumps, clothes irons, space heaters, etc.) at local household hazardous waste collection events sponsored by their local municipality or solid waste district.


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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