Mercury Thermometers Swap Program


University personnel can submit a Chemical Waste Collection Request to recycle a mercury thermometer by swapping it for a safer alcohol-filled thermometer. This exchange eliminates the risk of a mercury thermometer breaking, which can result in a costly cleanup and expose you to mercury, a potent neurotoxin.

Follow these steps to when submitting your Chemical Waste Collection Request:

  1. Place your thermometer(s) in a container (e.g., bag, bottle, box), and select the container type from the Type dropdown.
  2. Write the number of containers in the Quantity field.
  3. Add the estimated weight of the thermometer(s) in the Total Volume field (approximately 2 grams each) and select grams from the Unit dropdown.
  4. Click Add Container.
  5. Click List Chemical.
  6. Choose “MERCURY DEVICES” in the Chemical Name field, and update the Percent to 100.
  7. Click Add Chemical.
  8. Write in the Notes to EHS field “please provide alcohol thermometer” before you submit the form.

After you submit the form, a safety professional from EH&S Environmental Programs will collect the mercury thermometer(s) for safe disposal and deliver an alcohol-filled thermometer in exchange at no cost.

Our alcohol thermometers are semi-submersible and measure from -20 to 110ºC to within 1º. If one is broken, just wipe up the liquid with a paper towel or absorbent pad, throw the paper towel or pad away, and dispose of the broken glass in your lab glass bin.

Broken mercury thermometers can result in a chemical spill that may require an expensive cleanup by an environmental contractor. (Contractor expenses will be charged to the lab, clinic, or shop.) Additionally, the area may need to be closed for use until the cleanup is complete and air monitoring has been conducted by EH&S. Read more about Mercury Spill Cleanup.

The mercury thermometer swap program is a valuable resource that supplies our campus community with an environmentally safe option. We are able to provide one free of charge. If you need additional thermometers, they are available from any of your lab equipment vendors and are relatively inexpensive.

For more information, contact the Environmental Programs office at (206) 616-5835 or by email at


Swap Your Mercury Thermometer