Mercury has been used in glass thermometers since the 1700s. A typical home “fever thermometer” contains between 0.5 and 3 grams of elemental mercury. When a thermometer breaks, the mercury inside enters the environment. Depending on the ambient temperature, some of the mercury will volatilize. In it’s vapor form, mercury easily enters the body where it accumulates.
Digital thermometers are accurate and safer alternatives to mercury thermometers. In 2000, San Francisco banned the sale of mercury thermometers at retail stores in San Francisco. Visit our EcoCenter or our permanent household hazardous waste facility to exchange your old mercury glass thermometer for a digital one and drop off your old thermometer for safe recycling.
San Francisco is habitat for 800,000 people – meeting needs for space to work, play, and learn; for food, water, and air; for community with local flora and fauna. SF Environment provides support for urban agriculture and forestry and green buildings, helping residents and businesses harness environmental opportunities.