Disposal of Thermometers that Contain Mercury
There are various types of thermometers used for many applications. One common type is the fever thermometer. Although Vermont does not have
legislation banning the sale of fever thermometers, most Vermont pharmacies and grocers have pledged to no longer offer mercury fever thermometers
for sale in their stores. All mercury containing thermometers and manometers must not be disposed of in the regular
trash. The information provided below will:
Identifying Thermometers that Contain Mercury
Many types of thermometers may contain mercury including:
- fever and basal thermometers,
- oven, candy and meat thermometers,
- indoor/outdoor thermometers,
- laboratory thermometers,
- temperature measuring devices in industrial applications.
A mercury thermometer can be easily identified by the presence of a silver bulb. (One exception to this is the new fever thermometers containing
gallium, indium and tin that also contain a silver bulb but are clearly marked mercury-free.) If the bulb is red, blue, purple,
green or any other color, it is not a mercury thermometer.
There are a number of alternatives to mercury thermometers depending on the specific application including digital (note: digital thermometers
contain a button cell battery which contains a small amount of mercury and should be disposed of properly), alcohol
and mineral spirits (e.g. those containing red or blue liquid), and galinstan, a mixture of gallium, indium and tin that is similar to mercury
in appearance (these are not yet widely available).
Households should dispose of mercury containing thermometers and any waste created from the cleanup of broken thermometers 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 thermometers:
- Small businesses may be able to dispose of mercury-containing thermometers and other mercury-containing devices 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 thermometers and other mercury-containing devices, see FACT SHEET: Mercury Spills.