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Mercury is usually found in:

  • thermometers
  • barometers
  • electrical switches
  • fluorescent lights
  • high density light bulbs
  • clock pendulums


Mercury is not harmful in accidental ingestions or exposures to the skin but is dangerous when vaporized.

Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFLs) contain mercury and should be handled with care. If a CFL bulb breaks, use cardboard or other stiff paper to carefully scoop the fragments and powder into a sealed plastic bag. Double bag the particles and put them in the trash outside. Wash your hands with soap and water when you are finished and ventilate the area well.

Spilled mercury liquid is difficult to find and clean because it separates into tiny beads. If mercury is spilled, use a flashlight by holding it close to the floor to find all of the particles.

Do not use a vacuum cleaner to clean up spilled mercury. Use duct tape, a dropper, or a damp paper towel to pick up the particles. Discard the mercury by putting it in a double plastic bag and throwing it away in the trash. Wash your hands with soap and water after cleaning up a mercury spill and allow the area to ventilate well before re-entering.


Call NC Poison Control at 1-800-222-1222 or chat from this site for further treatment advice.

Last Updated on 10/09/2023