Mercury Thermometers & Toxicity
Using mercury thermometers
Get rid of old mercury thermometers, but don’t just throw them away. Take them to a household hazardous waste collection site.
Mercury thermometers are identifiable by the silver bulb at the bottom and silver coloring in the temperature indicator area. Thermometers with a red or blue liquid do NOT contain mercury. The danger is if a mercury thermometer breaks, toxic fumes are released and the mercury contaminates the area in which it is spilled. It’s very difficult — and EXPENSIVE — to effectively clean spilled mercury. Replace these thermometers with non-mercury thermometers.And never use one rectally to check a baby’s temperature.
For more information about choosing and using thermometers, see “Forgotten in the Fridge” at lancaster.unl.edu/food/ftmay04.htm and “Pass the Taste Test … Use a Thermometer” at lancaster.unl.edu/food/ftfeb04.htm