Devices that measure pressure may contain mercury. Barometers, manometers and vacuum gauges all have a gauge for reading air pressure. Liquid mercury in the gauges responds to air pressure in a precise way that can be read on a calibrated scale. Many barometers, sphygmomanometers (blood pressure monitors), vacuum gauges contain mercury ranging from 100 to 500 grams or more. These devices should not be disposed of in the regular trash.
The information provided below will:
- Help you identify gauges which contain mercury,
- Identify mercury-free alternatives if available; and,
- Provide information on proper disposal of mercury-containing gauges.
Identifying Gauges that Contain Mercury
The following types of pressure and other gauges may contain mercury:
Used in weather instrumentation for measuring air pressure.
Used to measure the specific gravity of fluids in maple sugaring, and wine and beer making, etc.
Used in weather instrumentation to measure the amount of moisture or water vapor in the air.
Used to measure vacuum pressure, i.e., on farms to measure vacuum pressure in milking equipment.
Blood pressure measuring devices.
Mercury-free pressure and other gauges are available. The mercury-free alternatives include:
Alternative: Aneroid, digital, bourdon tube, and silicon-based fluid.
Alternative: Aneroid, digital, and spirit-filled.
Alternative: Aneroid, digital, and water or spirits-filled.
Alternative: Aneroid and digital.
Households should dispose of mercury-containing pressure and other gauges and any waste created from the cleanup of broken gauges at local household hazardous waste collection events sponsored by their local municipality or solid waste district.
Commercial and Institutional
The following disposal options are available to commercial/institutional generators of mercury-containing pressure and other gauges:
- Small businesses may be able to dispose of pressure and other mercury-containing gauges at town or solid waste district collection events.
- Direct shipment as "Universal Waste" to a mercury recycling facility.
- Shipment through a hazardous waste transporter to a proper destination facility.