Safe Mercury Thermostat Disposal for California Contractors
Are you a professional contractor who deals with mercury thermostats?
You can help keep your customers and community safe by becoming a mercury thermostat safe disposal partner!
Join over 75 California contractors that are helping to prevent mercury contamination by acting as collection partners for out of use mercury-containing thermostats. Here’s how:
Order a Free Collection Container
As a Californian contractor, you are eligible for a free collection container. If you come across multiple mercury thermostats in your line of work that need recycling, you should order a free collection container. Currently, 97 professional contractors in California have utilized our free collection containers to properly disposes of mercury thermostats!
Steps to Collecting Mercury Thermostats:
- Submit a bin or pail request form to Thermostat Care team by completing a form and emailing it to ContainerRequests@ThermostatCare.org.
- Thermostat Care team processes the request and prepares to ship your bin or pail to your location.
- The requested bin or pail, along with related materials (like guidelines on how to properly package mercury thermostats and care for the bin or pail) will be sent to your location. Please note that the actual bin or pail will have TRC (Thermostat Recycling Corporation) branding, but this is still a part of the Thermostat Care program. If you do not receive your container within 1 month, please contact ContainerRequests@ThermostatCare.org to inquire about the status of your container.
- Collect mercury thermostats! DO NOT remove the mercury ampule from the thermostat. Place the entire thermostat into an individual and sealable bag in the collection container. Broken thermostats will not be accepted at drop-off locations.
- When a mercury thermostat is dropped off in your container, record relevant information in the mercury collection log (included in our Universal Waste Regulation training material, which also comes with each new container sent to your location). This tracking log needs to be kept at your location and covers the collection records spanning three years.
- Once the container is full, or 1 year after receiving your first thermostat (whichever comes first), schedule a FedEx Ground pickup to return the container free of charge. Your container was shipped with the pre-paid label already inside. If you misplaced the label, contact email@example.com for a replacement. To schedule: Visit the FedEx website section to “Schedule a Ground Return Package Pickup” (fedex.com/grd/rpp/ShowRPP.do) or call FedEx customer service to schedule a pickup at 1 (800) 463-3339.
- When the FedEx carrier picks up your container, make sure you receive a shipping receipt from them, which will have information about the container contents. To follow Program expectations, you must keep a record at your location about the shipments for at least three years.
- Once a pickup order is received by our processing partner (Veolia), a replacement container will automatically be sent back. If you have any questions about the arrival of your replacement container or would like to order a small pail to have on-hand for mercury thermostat collection while your container is being processed, please contact Info@ThermostatCare.org.
Find Your Nearest Drop-off Location
Thermostat Care establishes qualified mercury thermostat drop-off locations across California. This option is best for you if you have fewer than 3 mercury thermostats a year to dispose of; if you have more, please consider ordering your own recycling container. Place each thermostat in its own sealed, clear plastic bag, find your nearest drop-off location, and dispose of the thermostats at that location.
The following downloadable materials are available to help share more information about safe, proper mercury thermostat recycling:
- Why it’s important to recycle a mercury thermostat (PDF) (additional languages)
- How to prepare a thermostat for recycling or deal with a broken thermostat (PDF)
- For Contractors: Partner Safe Disposal Information (English PDF) (Spanish PDF)
- If your mercury thermostat breaks, you could be in danger of a mercury spill. Contact your local health authority and/or visit the EPA website to learn how to handle a mercury spill.
- For additional information, visit the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC)’s Handling and Disposal of Mercury Waste Fact Sheet
- Training on Universal Waste Regulations (PDF)
Commonly Asked Questions
How do I know if I come across a mercury thermostat?
To determine if your thermostat contains mercury, inspect the thermostat to see if it contains a lever or dial to control the temperature. Thermostats with this feature typically contain mercury. Homes or buildings whose HVAC systems haven’t been updated since the early 2000s. Areas of the state that may be lower income and therefore not updating their HVAC systems regularly or in the past decade.
Why do mercury thermostats require special disposal?
In normal use, mercury-containing thermostats are safe and do not expose people to mercury. However, if mercury thermostats are improperly handled or disposed of, the glass tube of liquid mercury may break, causing the mercury to vaporize. This can cause serious health problems – particularly among children and pregnant women. Mercury-containing thermostats that are not disposed of at a hazardous waste collection site can expose sanitation workers, soil and groundwater to toxic mercury contamination. So, improper care and disposal of mercury-containing thermostats are dangerous to both public and environmental health.
What are the health risks of being exposed to mercury?
Mercury is toxic and exposure even in small amounts may cause serious health problems. Breathing mercury vapors can harm the nervous system, lungs and kidneys. Mercury vapors can also pass easily from the lungs to the bloodstream. Children under 14 are more sensitive to mercury than adults because of their developing brains and nervous systems – and may be irreversibly damaged by it. Mothers who are exposed to mercury and breast-feed may also expose their infant children through their milk.
What are the consequences of throwing a mercury thermostat in the trash?
Failure to properly dispose of mercury-containing thermostats can result in a $70,000 fine.
Any questions? Email Info@ThermostatCare.org