Mercury Identification

The following items may contain mercury and should be dropped off at your local Community Recycling Centre!

Thermostats

  • Older non-digital thermostats often contain mercury
  • Do not try to remove the mercury from the thermostat

Thermometers

  • A mercury thermometer will have a visible silver/grey liquid inside
  • Thermometers that contain a red or blue liquid do not contain mercury

Button Batteries

  • Small batteries found in watches, calculators, and toys
  • Bring ALL batteries to your local hazardous household waste depot

Barometers

  • Barometers are used to measure atmospheric pressure
  • Old mercury barometers have a glass tube with a visible silver/grey liquid inside

Relay Switches

  • Relay switches are used to control the flow of electricity
  • When you shake a mercury relay switch, you should feel a “sloshing” which means that it contains mercury
  • These switches are encased in steel and should have an Mercury label label which means the product contains mercury

Blood Pressure Gauges (sphygmomanometers)

  • Blood pressure gauges are used to measure blood pressure
  • Old mercury versions have a metal casing and a glass tube with a visible silver/grey liquid inside

Manometers

  • Manometers are used in milking operations to measure pressure in vacuum lines
  • The U-shaped glass tube on a mercury manometer has a visible silver/grey liquid inside

Tilt Switches

  • Tilt switches are used in older car convenience light assemblies, chest freezers and old washing machine lids
  • When you shake a mercury tilt switch, you should feel a “sloshing” which means that it contains mercury
  • Please bring all large appliances to your local Community Recycling Centre

Pressure Switches

  • Pressure Switches are used to complete a circuit in large industrial applications
  • These switches are encased in steel and the mercury may not be visible. If you are unsure if ANY product contains mercury, please bring it to the household hazardous waste depot

Hygrometers

  • Hygrometers are used to measure dry and wet temperature to determine humidity
  • Mercury hygrometers have 2 glass tubes with a visible silver/grey liquid inside

Float Switches

  • Float switches are used in sump pumps and other equipment that is activated depending on water level
  • When you shake a mercury float switch, you should feel a “sloshing” which means that it contains mercury

Hydrometers

  • Hydrometers measure liquid density and can determine alcohol, sugar and fat content in fluids and are often used by home brewers
  • Mercury hydrometers have liquid silver/grey inside; non mercury hydrometers have solid lead shot inside

Flame Sensors

  • Flame sensors are used in older gas ovens to ensure that gas does not continue being released when the pilot light goes out
  • The mercury in a flame sensor is contained in the thin metal tube
  • Please bring all large appliances to your local Community Recycling Centre

Pyrometers

  • Pyrometers are used to measure high temperatures in engines, smelters and boilers
  • Mercury pyrometers will usually have a metal tube filled with mercury which is connected to a measurement dial

Vacuum Gauges

  • Vacuum gauges are used to measure pressure at low levels in labs and science classrooms
  • Mercury vacuum gauges have a visible silver/grey liquid inside

Loose Liquid Mercury

  • Loose liquid mercury can be identified by its silver colour and its liquid state at room temperature
  • Make sure that any containers of liquid mercury are sealed air-tight to prevent vapours from escaping
  • Exposed mercury evaporates at room temperature and the vapours are very toxic

Compact Fluorescent Lighting (CFL)

  • Energy efficient lighting designed to replace incandescent light bulbs
  • Quickly being phased out and replaced by LED lighting

Fluorescent Tube Lighting

  • Common business and office lighting
  • Uses mercury gas and phosphor powder to produce light

Outdoor Area Lighting

  • High intensity outdoor lights used in street, parking lot, and flood lighting
  • Includes: metal halide, high-pressure sodium, and mercury vapour lighting