Recycling mercury thermometers

alcohol thermometer (5K)


Request a thermometer exchange

Want a thermometer? Fill out an online Mercury Thermometer Swap Request with all your unwanted items containing elemental mercury. We will drop off your new thermometer and pick up your unwanted items for recycling.

Recycle your mercury thermometers through EH&S and we’ll deliver a free alcohol-filled thermometer in exchange. Broken mercury thermometers account for almost half of the spills that occur each year on campus. Broken mercury thermometers waste time and money, and can possibly cost you your clothing and equipment.

Our alcohol thermometers are semi-submersible and measure from -20 to 110ºC to within 1º. They perform most routine laboratory functions that mercury thermometers are used for, such as measuring the temperature of water baths or ambient air. And best of all, when you drop one, all you have to do is wipe up the liquid with a paper towel and throw it away, and place the broken glass in your lab glass bin.

Supplies are limited. Only one alcohol thermometer per laboratory. Additional alcohol thermometers, including other types of thermometers that measure higher temperatures, are available through VWR, Fisher Scientific and other vendors.

This offer does not apply to UWMC, which has its own mercury-free mandate and substitute purchasing plan.

Mercury spills

If you do still have elemental mercury in your workplace, you must have a mercury spill kit, and you need to know how to use it. Large spills might require a mercury vacuum. If the spill occurs on items with porous surfaces, such as carpet, wood, or your shoes, you might have to dispose of those items as hazardous waste. See our mercury spills webpage for more information.

Mercury ban on consumer goods

The sale of mercury-containing consumer items has been banned since January 1, 2006. This ban covers mercury-containing items such as certain jewelry and the mercury batteries that power the kids' shoes that light up with each step.

This ban also covers mercury thermometers. It is illegal for any store or chemical supply company, if even out-of-state, to sell you a mercury thermometer. Seek alternative thermometers that are digital or alcohol-based.

If you have any questions about this policy, please call EH&S at 206.685.3759.