An official website of the United States government.

This is not the current EPA website. To navigate to the current EPA website, please go to This website is historical material reflecting the EPA website as it existed on January 19, 2021. This website is no longer updated and links to external websites and some internal pages may not work. More information »

Resources about Mercury for Child Care Providers

Elemental mercury, a shiny, silver-white metal that is liquid at room temperature, is used in older fever thermometers, compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs), and some electrical switches. Children can be exposed to elemental mercury vapor when products that contain mercury break and expose mercury to the air, particularly in poorly-ventilated spaces.

Mercury can affect the nervous system. Because infants and children are still developing, they are particularly sensitive to the effects of mercury on the nervous system. The following links provide information about the health effects of mercury exposure and steps that can be taken to prevent exposure to mercury in childcare facilities, including what to do when a thermometer or a CFL breaks.