Mercury Spills

Mercury Spills

Follow this advice to avoid toxicity resulting from incorrect clean up of small mercury spills from mercury thermometers. For larger spills, evacuate the area and contact your local Poisons Center, Fire Service or health authority for further advice.

For advice on how to clean up a broken energy-efficient lightbulb, click here, or for the government guidelines on dealing with other mercury spills, click here.

How Should I Clean Up A Mercury Spill?


It is important to clean up mercury as thoroughly as possible, especially in confined areas. Inadequate cleanup may allow ongoing release of mercury vapor, and potentially, chronic toxicity to occur. Small children crawling on the floor are most at risk, as mercury vapour is heavier than air.


If spilled on a smooth surface (linoleum, smooth concrete, floorboards):

If spilled carpets, curtains, upholstery or other absorbent surfaces):

Should I Vacuum The Mercury?


You should never vacuum mercury. This can cause the mercury to heat, and form toxic vapour, or it can aerosolise the droplets, making it easy to breathe in. If you have vacuumed mercury, you will need to throw away the filter, bag and tubing from your vacuum cleaner. If this is not possible, the vacuum cleaner must be replaced.