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Chemical Waste Program
Pollution Prevention / Waste Minimization
--Surplus Chemical Distribution
--Mercury Therm. Replacement
--Lab Product Substitution
--Lab Process Modification
--Battery Recycling Program
Spare the Air Program
Radioactive Waste Program
Electronic Waste Recycling

Safety & Compliance Assistance Program


Clean-Up Instructions for
Broken Mercury Thermometers

  • Assemble the necessary cleanup supplies:
    • eye dropper
    • goggles 
    • paper towel
    • plastic container with lid
    • plastic bags with zipper seal
    • flashlight
    • plastic dust pan
    • nitrile gloves
    • wide mouth container


  • Remove jewelry and watches, as mercury will bond with the metal. Put on nitrile gloves.
  • Use a flashlight to locate the mercury.
  • Do not touch the mercury.
  • Different surfaces require different clean up procedures:

On a hard surface or tightly woven fabric:

1. Use stiff paper (cardboard or playing card-type paper) to push mercury beads together. Use eyedropper to suction mercury beads. Or, working over a tray to catch any spill, lift the beads of mercury with the stiff cardboard paper.

  1. Carefully place the mercury in a wide mouth container. Pick up any remaining beads of mercury with sticky tape.
  2. Place contaminated tape in a plastic bag along with the eyedropper, stiff paper and gloves. Place this bag and sealed container in the second bag.

On a carpet or a rug:

The mercury-contaminated section should be cut out and placed in a plastic bag with all the cleanup items.

In a sink of water:

Remove as much water without disturbing the mercury and recover the mercury with an eyedropper. Place in a wide container and seal with tape.

In a drain:

Mercury will get caught in the sink trap. Working over a tray, remove the trap and pour the contents into large mouth container.

After any clean up procedure, label all waste with a Stanford University Hazardous Waste Tag and submit an online pick-up request to EH&S.


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