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Mercury occurs naturally in air, water and soil, and is present in diverse consumer products, such as thermometers, thermostats, and vehicle switches. It is important to carefully manage these products at end-of-life to prevent release of mercury into the environment, and to protect human health. In addition, other human activities contribute to elevated levels of some mercury compounds, such as methylmercury. Methylmercury accumulates up the food chain, and in some cases, fish consumption advisories are issued to protect human health.

The EPA has created a fact sheet called Before You Tear it Down, Get the Mercury Out. This collection of information concerns demolition processes and Mercury. It can be very useful when renovating or demolition plans are ahead of you to ensure that you will be safe and free of potential Mercury exposure.

End-Of-Life Management


Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFLs)

State Term Contract with Veolia Environmental Services:

Term Contract T.C. # SPB05-954D, Effective July 1, 2010

DEQ urges schools, local and tribal governments to take advantage of the term contract for recycling of fluorescent bulbs that contain mercury. The successful contractor sends trucks on “milk runs” to pick up bulbs from diverse Montana locations in response to requests for service. Review the contract for contact information and specific requirements.


Thermostat Collection Programs

Vehicle Switches

Fish Consumption Advisories

Guidelines for eating fish from some Montana lakes and rivers.

USDA Advisory for Seafood Consumption

More information:

EPA Safe Mercury Management

EPA Mercury Home

Mercury: Table of Contents - Peaks to Prairies Pollution Prevention Information Center

Thermostat Collection Programs

Citizen Recycling

Unless newer models have been installed, many homes have older thermostats which contain mercury. If remodeling or upgrading thermostats, do not throw old thermostats in the garbage. DEQ has partnered with County Sanitarians (81 KB) to offer free recycling for residents. Just contact your County Sanitarian to arrange a time to drop off your old thermostat for safe recycling.

Low-Income Weatherization Contractors

The Montana State University Extension Service provides weatherization training for contractors working with the Montana Low-Income Weatherization program. The Extension Service also trains weatherization experts on safe management of mercury-containing thermostats, and provides mercury collection buckets and spill kits. When weatherization crews remove a mercury-bulb thermostat, the thermostat is replaced with a non-mercury type and the collected thermostats are returned to the Extension Service for recycling.