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Mercury-containing Products - What's in our garbage - Garbage & recycling services

Mercury-containing products

What is it?

Mercury is a silvery, heavy, odorless and highly toxic metal. It is the only metal that is liquid at room temperature. Mercury is used in many products such as thermometers, barometers, fluorescent bulbs and tubes, thermostats, and vehicle switches.

Why recycle or properly dispose of mercury-containing products?

It is very important that we keep mercury - either in its elemental state or as a compound - out of our environment because it is toxic affecting the brain, spinal cord, kidneys and liver. Recycling or proper disposal is the only legal means for disposing of certain mercury-containing products because they are banned from disposal in King County garbage.

What can you do?

  • Avoid purchasing products containing mercury unless necessary. Purchase non–mercury thermometers and low–mercury light bulbs.
  • Recycle fluorescent bulbs and tubes through the Take it Back Network.
  • Dispose of other mercury–containing items at the Wastemobile or a Household Hazardous Waste Facility.
  • Install a mercury-free programmable thermostat. To find out if a new thermostat contains mercury check on the package. Thermostats with mercury will have the “Hg” sign for mercury on the packaging.
King County waste stream graph
Eighty percent of materials thrown away are resources – not waste.
King County Solid Waste Division mission: Waste Prevention, Resource Recovery, Waste Disposal

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