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Frequently asked questions about Mercury

What is Mercury?

Mercury is a heavy, silver metal that is liquid at room temperature, which can slowly change from a liquid to a gas at room temperature.  Mercury is a potential hazard to people who are exposed to it, especially pregnant women, infants and young children.  The most common way that people are exposed to mercury in their home is by breaking a thermometer that contains mercury.

What type of thermometer do you own?

Older fever thermometers contain mercury.  Most fever thermometers sold today for household use do not contain mercury.  Thermometers that contain a red liquid are not mercury thermometers.  There are also thermometers that contain a silver liquid that looks like mercury, but does not bead up like mercury.  If you think you have a thermometer that contains mercury in your house, please contact Oakland County Health Division at (248) 424-7191 for information on how to safely dispose.

Help!  I broke a thermometer!

If you have broken a mercury thermometer in your home please keep children and pets away from the area and do not use your vacuum to pick up the mercury or the thermometer pieces.   Please refer to the following links for helpful clean up information and contact the Oakland County Health Division at (248)424-7097 during regular business hours for additional guidance and information or e-mail Kathy Fraser.   If you suspect that someone has ingested mercury, contact Poison Control at 1-800-222-1222.

Mercury Spills in Homes


Mercury Spills in Schools and Businesses


Information regarding CFLs and Mercury