How to Recycle Mercury Thermostats

Thermostats come in many forms. Ones with dials or a lever or made before 2006 likely contain mercury.

Thermostats with dials, a lever or made before 2006 likely contain mercury.

Do you have an old thermostat at home with a dial or a lever that looks like the one pictured on the left? Then most likely you have a thermostat that contains mercury. Many thermostats manufactured before 2006 contain mercury. This thermostat is perfectly safe to use, as the mercury is usually contained in a glass tube. But if you decide to change your thermostat to a new digital or programmable model, disposing of the old thermostat should be done safely.

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How to Dispose of Fluorescent Lights

Fluorescent lights come in all shapes and sizes. Compact fluorescent lights (CFL) are the smallest ones.

Fluorescent lights come in all shapes and sizes. Compact fluorescent lights (CFL) are the smallest ones.

Fluorescent lights may save you money on your electric bill, but once they burn out, you can’t toss them in the trash because the mercury contained in them is toxic, making burned-out fluorescent lights hazardous waste!

Fluorescent lights come in a variety of shapes and sizes, the most popular being tube-shaped and the compact “curly” style. The tube-shape lights have been in use for many years, mostly in garages and commercial buildings. Compact fluorescent lights (CFL’s) became a more recently popular product to replace the use of common incandescent lights. Many utility companies offered deep discounts to buy CFL’s because, according to Energy Star, they use about 70-90% less energy than traditional incandescent lights and last 10 to 25 times longer. But now the problems associated with disposal of these bulbs is causing the industry to develop new options. Continue reading

What is Household Hazardous Waste, and how do I get rid of it safely?

Household Hazardous Waste is any toxic chemical or product you use at home

Household Hazardous Waste is any toxic chemical or product you use at home

While cleaning your basement, closets, bathroom and kitchen, you may come across some old and unwanted household chemicals and other things we refer to as “household hazardous waste” or HHW for short. This may include things like paint, weed killer, batteries, fluorescent lights, household cleaners like bleach and floor polish, and many other chemicals. Some bottles or containers may have product still inside that is unused or barely touched. So, what to do with this stuff that you don’t want in your home? Not a good idea to throw it in the garbage or dump it on the ground because that contaminates water and soil. Luckily for San Mateo County residents, there are several options to choose to help you manage your household chemicals safely. Continue reading