Mercury is a naturally occurring element found in the earth’s crust. It comes in many forms. Elemental or metallic mercury is a shiny, silver-white metal and is liquid at room temperature. When dropped, elemental mercury breaks into smaller droplets, which can go into small cracks or become attached to certain materials. At room temperature, elemental mercury can evaporate to become invisible, odorless toxic vapor. Other forms of mercury you can’t see, like the kind in certain types of fish that you eat, called methylmercury. Exposure to high levels of mercury vapor is harmful to health.
Common Mercury Sources
- Compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) and other specialty bulbs (e.g., black light, tanning, neon) contain mercury.
- Glass thermometers containing the silvery-white liquid. These include oven, candy, and meat thermometers.
- Mercury thermostats are unlikely to break or leak, but should be properly disposed of when being replaced.
Mercury Spills & Disposal
- If mercury spills in your home, call Livingston County Environmental Health at (517) 546-9858.
- If after business hours, call Poison Control (800) 222-1222 or 911.
- For proper disposal of mercury containing products, call LC Solid Waste (517) 545-9609.
Last Modified November 8, 2023