What is Mercury Waste?
Mercury waste includes mercury-containing industrial wastes and also discarded mercury-containing products. Often mercury-containing products are found in households, and would thus be household hazardous wastes when discarded, while many are generated by businesses as well. Examples of household mercury-containing wastes include fluorescent light bulbs, thermostats, thermometers, and novelty items (flashing footwear for example). Businesses also generate discarded fluorescent lights, thermostats, medical equipment, etc.
How is Mercury Waste Regulated?
These waste streams are not all regulated in the same manner.
How Can I Dispose of Mercury Waste?
Many cities and counties have developed programs to collect, recycle or properly dispose of household hazardous waste, including mercury-containing household products. These household hazardous waste collection facilities may also collect hazardous waste generated by small businesses that are exempt from regular hazardous waste management requirements. Contact your local Household Hazardous Waste Facility (HHWF) for more information on accepting mercury-containing household and small business hazardous waste. Several ways to identify a local collection center is through the following links:
For more information, please visit our Household Hazardous Waste web page.
In addition, there are a large number of private business that collect mercury-containing hazardous wastes, either directly or through mail-in programs. A few of these businesses are listed below:
Note that DTSC does not recommend or endorse any of the businesses listed above. If you would like your service to be listed, please contact us at (916) 322-3670 or (800) 700-5854.
You must use authorized hazardous waste transporters and disposal facilities for mercury wastes that are not universal wastes.
Laws Governing Specific Mercury-Containing Wastes Include:
On January 1, 2006, California law banned the sale of new mercury-added thermostats for most uses. The Mercury Thermostat Collection Act of 2008 requires manufacturers to establish a collection and recycling program individually or with other manufacturers for out of service mercury-added thermostats. See our Mercury in Thermostats web page for more information.
Mercury-Containing Vehicle Switches
The California Mercury Reduction Act prohibits the sale in California of vehicles manufactured on or after January 1, 2005 that contain mercury light switches.
California law also requires that:
Fluorescent lamps contain mercury and are considered a hazardous waste when discarded or broken. They cannot be discarded in the trash. They can be managed as a universal waste, as discussed on our Universal Waste Handler/Recycler web page.
For more information on regulation of fluorescent lighting, please visit our web page on General Purpose Lights.
For information about the household hazardous waste program in your community:
For more information from DTSC's website, go to: