Mercury Remediation Process for Laboratories

Identify all mercury, mercury compounds and mercury containing devices in each laboratory.  This should involve a drawer by drawer search of the entire laboratory.  Determine if the identified mercury is essential to the operation of the laboratory:

  1. If the mercury containing device is no longer used... get rid of it.  Please call the Environmental Health & Safety Department to arrange for its proper disposal.  (414-288-8411)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          
  2. If the mercury containing device is used and needed for the laboratory, but can be replaced with a non-mercury containing device, then replace it and have EH&S remove the old device (as above). This may be costly, but the reductions in the risk associated with mercury spills are profound.                                                                                                                                                                  
  3. If the device is both essential and cannot be replaced with a non-mercury containing alternative, then the mercury within the device or container must be reported and approved by EH&S.  Laboratories requiring the continued use of mercury must contact EH&S to request an exception.  This accountability will better ensure that all devices are properly safe-guarded to minimize breakage and spillage.  This is especially critical for breakable or corrodible devices and containers.  Safe-guarding the mercury from future accidental release may involve one or more of the following:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     
      • To prevent breakage, install strong bumper guards around exposed breakable parts (especially glass parts).
      • To contain mercury in the event of a spill, use secondary containment (place the device in a pan or affix a solid barrier under or around it).
      • To prevent tipping or falling, move it to a safer location (away from the edge of a shelf or away from a high traffic area) or secure the device to a stable support (like a wall or a frame work).
      • To prevent accidents due to neglect, do regular inspection & maintenance on the equipment and create a safe place for its proper storage.
  5. Report the existence of all mercury, mercury compounds, and mercury containing devices in your laboratory and work area to the Environmental, Health & Safety Department.  Remember, all sources of mercury are to be eliminated unless there is no viable alternative.

Essential use is defined as: a circumstance where no acceptable alternative for the current use can be located or where it is found that implementation of an alternative would create a significant long-term financial hardship to the department or research project.


The following form must be completed and returned to EH&S for the continued use of all essential mercury containing devices:

Mercury Containing Device Retention Justification Form

You may email completed forms to





Mission Statement

The Risk Unit is responsible for evaluating loss exposures, assessing liability, handling claims, promoting internal controls and developing effective safety and health programs. The corporate and student insurance plans are managed by this unit.