Mercury in the Home Resource Guide

Mercury Overview

Mercury, also known as quicksilver, is a chemical element found on the periodic table. It is one of only five elements that are liquid at room temperature. Mercury is a heavy, silvery, transition metal, often found in household, medical and industrial products. The ability to easily bond with other elements and its versatility make mercury incredibly useful.

Although mercury is useful, it also poses significant health threats to humans. Exposure to mercury affects the nervous system and can have fatal effects. When not disposed of properly, mercury is also an environmental hazard. Recycling mercury is an important step in protecting human and environmental health.

Only one-third of the mercury found in the environment is naturally occurring, therefore human pollution is the greatest cause. Mercury containing products used around the house or garage often go unnoticed and are rarely disposed of properly.


Mercury can be found in many places inside your vehicle. Switches for breaks, seat belts and in the lights found inside trunks and hoods, all can contain liquid mercury. These automotive switches containing mercury are often easily and cheaply replaced and should be done so immediately. 

For more information on mercury switches visit the following:

Light Bulbs

Mercury vapor is used in fluorescent light bulbs because it is an incredibly efficient and environmentally friendly choice for manufacturers and consumers alike (they use up to 50% less electricity). Efficiency aside, the mercury vapors contained in fluorescent bulbs and HID lighting are highly toxic and easily absorbed by human body if the fragile bulbs are broken. These bulbs need to be handled carefully and recycled. 

For information on proper disposal methods of light bulbs containing mercury, please visit the following:


Button cell batteries are the only batteries in the United States that are still made with mercury. 

For more information on how to recycle single-use batteries properly please visit:

Thermostats & Thermometers

Because of its ability to flow and expand as it warms, mercury has been used in thermostats and thermometers for over 40 years. 

For more information on how to recycle thermometers and thermostats please visit:

Additional Information

For more information on these mercury-containing products please visit: