The University of Iowa

Mercury Bearing Waste Disposal

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency classifies waste as hazardous because it is listed as hazardous or because it exhibits a hazardous characteristic, e.g., ignitability, corrosivity, reactivity, toxicity. If a waste is hazardous it must be disposed in accordance with EPA regulations.

All forms of mercury are poisonous if absorbed. Chronic mercury poisoning results in neurological effects. In addition, mercury is harmful to aquatic life in very low concentrations.

Elemental mercury and wastes containing mercury salts are regulated as toxic hazardous waste when the mercury is present in concentrations greater than 0.2 mg/L. Under no circumstances should any waste containing mercury be disposed of in the trash, put down the drain, or placed in biohazard bags or sharps containers.

Some common materials that contain mercury are listed below.

  • barometers
  • mercuric chloride
  • mercury vapor lamps
  • B5 Fixative
  • mercuric nitrate
  • merthiolate
  • Calomel Electrodes
  • mercuric oxide
  • phenylmercuric acetate
  • p-chloromercuribenzoic acid
  • mercuric sulfate
  • thermometers
  • fluorescent light tubes
  • mercury battery cells
  • thermostats
  • mercuric acetate
  • mercury (elemental)
  • thimerosal

For waste pickup, complete a Chemical Waste Pickup Request Form.

NOTE: Prior to putting any waste down the drain or in the trash, it is important that all components of the waste be evaluated to ensure that the waste is not an EPA hazardous waste. Contact Jim Pyrz at 335-4625, if you require assistance in making this determination.