Mercury is a metal with many useful properties, so it has been used by people in many different ways. Unfortunately, mercury is also very toxic to people and wildlife, and some of its uses have resulted in widespread contamination of the environment.

The Sacramento Stormwater Quality Partnership has identified mercury as a top priority pollutant.

Be Mercury Free


Be Mercury Free is a regional program dedicated to reducing the amount of mercury entering the Sacramento River watershed. Be Mercury Free strives to educate Sacramento area residents and businesses about the sources, effects, and proper disposal of mercury and how to reduce mercury sources in residential households, schools, hospitals, and industries. Be Mercury Free is supported by various public and private partners.

Mercury Product and Spilled Mercury Disposal

Several commonly used household and business products contain mercury, such as fluorescent light bulbs and batteries. Mercury is toxic to people and to wildlife and these products cannot be disposed of in garbage or recycling containers. These items require special care in disposal to prevent harm to the environment. Contact your local solid waste service provider to determine the best way to dispose of items such as batteries and lightbulbs that contain mercury.


Hazardous Waste Regulations Guidance Materials

These resources below can help business operators understand and comply with the hazardous waste regulations pertaining to mercury switches.

  • Universal Waste Rules: Changes to California’s Universal Waste Regulations, Department of Toxic Substances Control
  • Scrap Metal Recyclers: Self-Training Manual for Removing Mercury Switches from Appliances

Mercury Switch disposal guidance

For Auto Dismantlers, Auto Repair Shops, and Scrap Metal Recyclers

Mercury-containing switches in automobiles and major appliances, if improperly disposed of at the time of repair or dismantling, are potentially a significant source of mercury in urban runoff. Recent changes in State and Federal regulations address the handling and disposal of these switches by auto dismantlers, metal recyclers, and auto repair shops.




Auto Related Hazardous Waste Guides:

  • Auto Dismantlers: Self-Training Manual for Removing Mercury Switches from Vehicles, Managing Mercury Switches Found in Vehicles, Waste Management Options for Mercury
  • Auto Repair Shops: Managing Mercury Switches Found in Vehicles, Waste Management Options for Mercury

What Products Contain Mercury?

Compact Fluorescent Lightbulbs (CFLs)
Fluorescent tubes
High intensity discharge lamps
Sodium vapor lamps
Mercury switches and thermostats
Mercury thermometers


How to Handle Spills and Where to Dispose?

The Sacramento Stormwater Quality Partnership is working to reduce urban environmental mercury exposure by encouraging the proper disposal of mercury containing products by residents and businesses within Sacramento County.


For Residents:


Please do not dispose of these items in trash or recycling bins.

  • Check local hardware, home improvement and large retail stores to see if they will take your compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs) and batteries.
  • For all other incorporated cities in Sacramento County.


For Businesses:


Educate yourself about how the Universal Waste Rule applies to your business. Here is more information:


If you are classed as a conditionally exempt small quantity generator (CESQG) you can dispose of this waste at local household hazardous waste collection sites.

Businesses in Sacramento County, information on acquiring CESQG status and collection site hours and locations.


For businesses in the City of Sacramento, get CESQG information by calling (916) 379-0500 or visit the City of Sacramento website.

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