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Throughout the year, the Knox County Health Department the City of Knoxville Public Service Division (in cooperation with the TN Department of Environment and Conservation) host several Mercury thermometer exchange programs.

The exchanges occur by residence bringing in their old mercury thermometers and receiving new digital thermometers in return.


Mercury thermometers are both an environmental and a health and safety problem. Broken thermometers are a potential source of injury from the broken glass, as well as a chemical hazard from the mercury in the thermometer.

One gram of mercury (1/28 of an ounce, the content of one thermometer) is sufficient to contaminate a 20-acre lake to the point that the mercury would concentrate in the fish and result in a fish advisory. The mercury thermometer collection program in Knoxville and Knox County collected enough mercury to date to protect 2538 such 20-acre lakes, or 50,760 lake-acres – 3.48 times the surface area of Ft. Loudon Lake!

Thermometer ExchangeIn the past, thermometer exchanges were held in locations around the county, including EarthFest, Safety City, UT, West Town Mall, Home Depot stores, Earth Fare, and the O'Connor Senior Center. Additionally, exchanges were offered on an ongoing basis at Farragut Town Hall and the Household Hazardous Waste Collection Center at the corner of Elm and W. Baxter and the County Recycling and Household Trash Collection Centers.

Unless otherwise announced, exchanges are limited to mercury thermometers from households; other type of mercury-containing waste such as old non-digital thermostats, barometers, manometers and other household mercury waste or devices should be brought to the City of Knoxville Household Hazardous Waste Center, where it will be accepted for disposal during business hours. The Household Hazardous Waste Center is free to residents of Knox County and City of Knoxville residents only and is located at 1033 Elm Street. The Center does not accept material from businesses, or residents from outside Knox County.

Additional information about the Knoxville Household Hazardous Waste Center is available at 865-215-6700 or on Household Hazardous Waste page on the city's website..

Note: If your thermometer contains a RED LIQUID it is NOT a mercury thermometer, and can be disposed safely in your trash. Mercury-containing thermometers always have SILVER liquid.

For more information on this program, please contact 3-1-1 or John Homa at 865-215-2060.
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