Healthy Home: Mercury Thermostats


We're going to talk about thermostats. Not the programmable type but ones that look like this that many of us still have in our homes today. These are thermostats that contain mercury which is not only a health hazard but also an environmental hazard.

Most home thermostats contain three to five grams of mercury. Although they only contain small quantities of mercury and do not by themselves exceed any regulatory threshold, they contain enough mercury to cause a significant health risk. If one of these breaks and is not cleaned up properly, mercury vapors can be inhaled and residents could develop health problems.

So what’ya do? You take it off your wall, toss it in the garbage to get the hazard out of your house right? Ok, now we are creating an environmental hazard by sending these off to the land fill where they can be introduced into the local streams and groundwater.

The safest way to dispose of mercury is to take it to a recycling center or a hazardous waster center that will dispose of heavy metals or other toxins. Whatever you do, DO NOT pour mercury down your drain!!! Mercury can leech out of your pipes and enter the ground water. Again DO NOT throw away your old thermostat. Heck, if you really want the easy route, just drop it off at a local heating and cooling contractor. Most all of us have been properly disposing of these thermostats for mercury for years.

After proper disposal of your thermostat, you can upgrade to a new, digital or mercury-free mechanical thermostat. It is easier to replace a thermostat that you might think. If you aren't comfortable doing the replacement yourself, you can hire an HVAC contractor to do the work.

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