Let’s get mercury out of Hancock County’s Environment!

Maine law now requires businesses (including municipal facilities) to recycle mercury containing items

What is mercury?

Mercury is a metal that becomes highly toxic through a chemical process as it is released into the environment.

Mercury is bioaccumulative, meaning it builds up in the tissue of animals and gets passed along the food chain. For this reason, mercury can have serious effects on fish, wildlife, and humans (especially dangerous for women of childbearing age and children).

What kinds of items contain mercury?

Mercury is commonly found in button-style batteries (used in hearing aids and watches), thermostats, vintage toys, barometers, switches and relays, computers and television monitors, and florescent light bulbs.

Is your community on board?

As a business owner or resident of Hancock County should I be concerned about mercury contamination?

It is always good to be informed about the safety of the environment you live in. Unfortunately, there are signs of mercury contamination in Hancock County.
  • The National Wildlife Federation states that rain in Acadia National Park is up to four times the Environmental Protection Agency’s aquatic life standard for mercury in surface water.
  • A smallmouth bass recently taken from one of Acadia’s border ponds had the highest levels of mercury recorded in Maine

Other studies show that common loons, eagles, and river otters found in Maine are exhibiting signs of mercury poisoning.

If mercury is such a risk, shouldn’t there be laws requiring it to be disposed of in a special way?

Until recently, it was difficult to tell just how much mercury is present in Maine. As the associated risks became better understood, Maine’s lawmakers got tough on mercury.

If you are a business owner (or municipal facility), you are required to recycle mercury containing items beginning July 15, 2002. Many businesses are not yet aware of this, so please spread the word!

Households are be required to recycle mercury containing items.

What options exist locally for mercury added product disposal?

Periodic Universal Waste Collections:
Concurrent with its household hazardous waste collection, the HCPC generally holds a universal waste collection event.   For information on events planned for the current year, see:

For the status of collection arrangements for your community see:


Charles Foster Co., Inc. (667-5346) at 55 Foster St. in Ellsworth, a participant in the Thermostat Recycling Corporation’s collection program, accepts wall-mounted thermostats with glass tube mercury switches at no charge.  For a complete list of collection participants see:

Button-style batteries:

Most jewelry stores will accept button-style batteries (found in watches and hearing aids) for recycling at no charge. Beals Jewelry Store, Inc. (667-2161) and Walmart (667-6780) are two participating vendors in Ellsworth.   For a complete list, see:

Florescent lamps, thermometers, barometers, old switches and relays, & other misc. items:

For information, see:

E-Scrap (including computers, televisions, other electronics):

Municipalities, public schools, or universities have the option of entering into the statewide electronics contract the State Planning Office set up with ElectroniCycle Inc. Contact SPO for more information (1-800-662-4545).   See also:


In the event you find an unidentified substance or item that could contain mercury, contact the DEP (1-800-452-1942) for help with identification and proper disposal instructions

Where can I find more information?

Prepared by the Hancock County Planning Commission

395 State Street Ellsworth, ME 04605
207-667-7131 (tel.) 207-667-2099 (fax) /

Download a printable brochure (500K pdf format)