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Mercury Spills in Homes

spilled mercury beads

Is your home mercury-free? You may be surprised. Not only do older thermometers and some thermostats contain mercury, but so do antiques like barometers and clock pendulums, to name a few. If these items are broken, mercury can spill out. If the mercury is not cleaned up the right way, it will give off an invisible vapor that is bad for your health. This vapor stays around for a long time and is bad for anyone to be around, but it's especially bad for young children and unborn babies.

The information found below can help you decide what to do when a mercury spill happens at your home.

Mercury Spill Quick Guide (for homes)

Follow these instructions immediately after a mercury spill to protect your family and pets and reduce the time and money spent on clean-up later.

How to Clean Up Spilled Mercury (for homes)

Step-by-step instructions on how you can safely clean up a mercury spill yourself. Always call your local health department or the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (1-800-648-6942) for a free consultation before you begin.

How to Clean Up a Broken Compact Fluorescent Light Bulb (CFL)

CFLA CFL does contain mercury, but the amount is very, very small. The way you should clean up a broken CFL is much different than any other mercury spill. Use this document as a guide to learn how to clean up CFLs. Learn more.

Which is more planet-friendly? CFLs vs Traditional Lightbulbs

This fact sheet from Energy Star (a US EPA and Department of Energy program) explains the environmental and financial benefits of using CFLs in your home.

Mercury and Your Health

Click on the link above to learn more about how you might be exposed to mercury and the health problems it may cause.

Get Rid of Mercury Safely

Follow the information in this fact sheet to learn how to properly recycle and dispose of mercury-containing items in your home.

Is Your Home Mercury Free?

This fact sheet provides some general information on why it is important to make your home mercury free, descriptions of common mercury-containing items in your home and how much mercury is in these items. You can also find contact information for where to recycle your mercury-containing items.

Is Your Home Mercury Free? Brochure

This brochure includes information on how to get rid of mercury safely, as well as examples of mercury-containing.

Mercury Spills - Hiring a Cleanup Contractor

After following the instructions in the Mercury Spill Quick Guide (for homes), you may decide that you need a professional cleanup contractor to help you cleanup the mercury spill. Deciding how much mercury has spilled and some questions you may want to ask the cleanup contractor are included in this fact sheet.

Mercury and Your Pet

Did you know animals can be affected by mercury, too? Clink on the link above to learn how to keep your pet safe in case of a mercury spill in your home.

More Information

Why should you be concerned about mercury? Check out the mercury videos and more.

Michigan laws that limit the sale and use of mercury

Where can you get rid of mercury? Visit or Michigan Energy Options. Be sure to package your mercury containing item safely, for example inside two zip-type plastic bags, to prevent a spill while transporting the item.

For a mercury spill in a school or business, visit the MDHHS page on Spills in Schools or Businesses 

Do you need more information?

Call your local health department or the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, 1-800-648-6942.