Cleaning up mercury spills

Mercury is that strange element that looks like a liquid metal bead. Many adults played with it as children. Mercury was used in a bunch of household items – fluorescent bulbs, LCD screens, old appliances, batteries, thermometers and barometers – that are now at risk of spilling.

Lauren and Dylan talk with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Oregon Health Authority staff involved in a recent mercury spill in Bend that resulted in damage to the home, cars, furniture and $100,000 in cleanup costs for the homeowners. They help us understand how to respond if mercury does spill in your home to minimize the impact, and then DEQ staff tell us how to safely dispose of any items we own that we know contain mercury.

The voices in the episode are:

  • Richard Franklin, EPA Region 10 federal on-scene coordinator for spills.
  • Todd Hudson, Oregon Health Authority toxicologist.
  • Pete Pasterz, DEQ materials management specialist.

Listen to the podcast on: SoundCloud, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts.


If you do have materials that contain mercury in your home – use this double-sided cheat sheet and stash it near by. That way, you won’t accidentally track mercury when trying to remember what to do.

Published by Oregon Department of Environmental Quality

DEQ’s mission is to be a leader in restoring, maintaining and enhancing the quality of Oregon’s air, land and water.

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