Kalamaoo County

Health and Community Services
Environmental Health

Kalamazoo County Household Hazardous Waste Center
1301 Lamont Avenue
Kalamazoo, Michigan 49048
(269) 373-5211

Mercury and Your Health

Mercury is a naturally occurring element found in rocks, soil, water, air and living things. Mercury is the only metal that is liquid at room temperature. In its pure form (often called elemental), mercury is a shiny, silver-white, odorless liquid. If heated, mercury vaporizes into a toxic, colorless gas that is odorless to people.

What should I do if mercury is spilled?
Spilled mercury, even small quantities in the home, should be cleaned up properly so that your family does not come in contact with it or breathe its vapors.
For small spills, such as a fever thermometer, follow the directions in the following guides: Mercury Spill Quick Guide & How to Clean Up Spilled Mercury

IMPORTANT: NEVER USE A VACUUM CLEANER OR BROOM to clean up a spill.

For advice about cleaning up a mercury spill in your home, contact Kalamazoo County's Household Hazardous Waste Center at 269-383-8742 or call DeVos Regional Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222.

You should NOT attempt to clean up spilled mercury yourself unless the amount spilled is no more than what is contained in a fever thermometer. For advice on large spills, follow the directions for Large Mercury Spills.


Steps to avoid mercury exposure
The best way to avoid a mercury spill is not to have any mercury in the house.

Replace any mercury thermometers in your home with digital thermometers. Replace old thermostats that contain mercury with non-mercury electronic thermostats.

Thermometers, thermostats and other devices that contain mercury, such as barometers, should NOT be thrown in the trash. Instead, put them in a Ziploc baggie and take them to the Kalamazoo County's Household Hazardous Waste Center.

Helpful Links:

Michigan Dept. of Community Health: Mercury & your Health
Michigan Dept. of Community Health: How to clean up mercury in homes