Division of Environmental Quality fact sheet
Division of Environmental Quality Director: Kyra Moore

Because mercury is an excellent conductor of electricity and flows as a liquid, it has been used in a variety of switches in items, such as thermostats, household appliances, automobiles and industrial equipment. Mercury has been used in thermometers, barometers and other measuring devices because it responds uniformly with changes in temperature and pressure. Mercury has the ability to form alloys with other metals, which makes it a practical material for creating dental amalgams, mirrors, toys and batteries. As a gas, mercury can be charged with electricity to emit light, making it useful in fluorescent, neon and mercury vapor lights. The toxicity of mercury made mercury compounds useful as fungicides in paint and seed coatings, and for use in a number of personal care products including contact solution and antibacterial medicines, such as mercurochrome and nasal sprays. Many of these applications for mercury are being eliminated due to health and environmental concerns.

Reduce mercury in homes and businesses graphic image

What You Can Do To Reduce Mercury 

  • Become an informed consumer and buy mercury-free alternatives.
  • Request mercury-free dental amalgam.
  • Replace mercury-containing products with mercury-free alternatives 
  • Recycle mercury. Check to see if there is a Household Hazardous Waste collection in your area. 
  • Reduce energy consumption (to help reduce consumption of coal at power plants).
  • Support mercury reduction legislation. 

Air Pollution 

Natural sources of mercury releases to the environment include volcanic eruptions and forest fires. In addition to natural sources, there have been decades of mercury releases from the burning of coal, the production of paper and chlorine, waste incineration and other industrial processes.

More Information

Visit the following department websites to learn more about proper disposal.

Nothing in this document may be used to implement any enforcement action or levy any penalty unless promulgated by rule under chapter 536 or authorized by statute.

For more information

Division of Environmental Quality


1101 Riverside Drive
PO Box 176
Jefferson City, MO 65102
United States