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Mercury Spills at Home - What do Do?

Mercury is a natural heavy metal that is toxic to people and wildlife. It is found in fluorescent light bulbs, thermometers, thermostats, and a range of other products. It is extremely hazardous to touch or eat or to breathe mercury vapors. It is more dangerous for children and pregnant women. 


Photo of a broken mercury thermometer

If you have a mercury spill at home from a broken thermometer or fluorescent light bulb, call 9-1-1 right away. Keep children and pets far away. Don't track it around the house or try to clean it up yourself. A Hazardous Materials response team can usually help you restore your home to safety if you contain the spill to a small area. For accidental spills, there is no charge to homeowners for the Hazmat team response, but if you have to call in a specialized clean-up company, that can be expensive.

Follow these steps to keep a bad situation from getting worse. 

Table of Contents

Preventing Mercury Spills at Home

Do you still have a mercury thermometer? Time to trade it in for a newer model. Put the old ones in sand or cat litter inside a jar with a tight lid. Check with your town for proper disposal.

Learn how to safely dispose of these products. 

What to Do if you Have a Mercury Spill at Home

If you have a mercury spill from a broken thermometer, fluorescent light bulb or thermostat:

  • Call 9-1-1.
  • Don't attempt to clean up the spill.
  • Do not vacuum!
  • Open windows.
  • Don't touch any mercury with bare skin, get on clothing or step in it (you'll drag it around).
  • Keep pets and children away.

Contact   for Mercury Spills at Home - What do Do?

MassDEP has information on the harmful environmental and health effects of mercury

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