There are two ways one can safely dispose of mercury thermostats.
1. Eau Claire County residents can recycle them as part of the county's Clean Sweep program.
2. The following companies participate in the Thermostat Recycling Corporation industry recycling program. Residents with mercury thermostats can bring them to these companies for recycling at no charge. Note that the thermostats must be intact - they do not accept mercury vials, nor do they accept thermometers.
- First Supply Eau Claire (596 Cameron Street, Eau Claire; 832-6638)
- Gustave A. Larson Co. (2456 Morningside Drive, Eau Claire; 262-542-0200)
- United Refrigeration (2618 Birch Street, Suite B, Eau Claire; 834-9704)
Visit the EPA's website to learn how to properly clean-up mercury spills. (Never use a vacuum cleaner!)
Drop them off at First Choice Computer Recycling.
You can tell the difference by the color, an alcohol thermometer is either red or blue. Alcohol thermometers are safe to throw away in the trash.
The only option available to residents to recycle thermometers is to take them to one of the Clean Sweep events held annually each year. Visit the EPA's website to learn how to properly clean-up mercury spills. (Never use a vacuum cleaner!)
Mercury Mouth Math
- The standard fever thermometer contains .7 grams of mercury.
- This is enough mercury to pollute a 20-acre lake.
- The average American mouth has 5.5 grams of mercury in the form of mercury amalgam fillings.
This means that the average American has enough mercury in his/her mouth to pollute 157 acres of water, Lake Winnebago is around 157 acres. Recent air emission tests in Madison, WI documented that more mercury is released into the air in Dane County from crematoria than from any other source except a coal fired energy plant.
Mercury Health Alert!
Mercury is an extremely toxic substance that attacks the central nervous system. The Mad Hatter in Alice In Wonderland was based on workers in England's felt hat industry who were sickened by exposure to mercury used to cure felt from beaver pelts. The neurological symptoms resulting from mercury poisoning were misinterpreted to be insanity.
Mercury is poisonous by touch, by ingestion, and by breathing its fumes. Because it is a liquid at room temperature, it readily evaporates and escapes into the atmosphere. Later, mercury is deposited into rivers, lakes and streams by precipitation. The amount of mercury in just one standard thermometer is enough, under the right conditions, to trigger a fish consumption advisory in a ten-acre lake.
Bottom line: It is dangerous to break fluorescent lamps. If you break a lamp, or a mercury thermometer, DO NOT VACUUM THE SPILL! This will do two things - it will break the mercury into smaller bits which will speed up the rate it evaporates, and it will contaminate the vacuum cleaner.
Instead, use a piece of cardboard to gather as many of the beads as you can and place it inside a plastic bag, and then place this bag inside another plastic bag. It may also be wise to use sticky tape to collect any small fragments. Bring the bag to the next county Clean Sweep event for hazardous waste disposal. Visit the EPA's website to learn how to properly clean-up mercury spills.