Mercury in the mail

A pile of packages and parcels

The Postal Service is reminding employees that mercury metal and devices containing mercury metal are always prohibited from mailing.

This includes antique items such as thermometers, barometers, blood pressure meters and similar devices. Generally, this doesn’t include newer types of these devices, especially digital versions.

According to Publication 52, Hazardous, Restricted and Perishable Mail, devices that contain mercury metal shouldn’t be confused with “manufactured devices that contain small amounts of mercury (UN3506),” such as compact fluorescent lamps, fluorescent tubes and similar consumer devices containing minute amounts of mercury. The mercury contained in these devices generally exists in a vaporized state, and will never be visible to the naked eye.

Publication 52, available on the Postal Explorer site, has complete information about mailing requirements for parcels that contain mercury.

USPS recently distributed a DMM Advisory with a reminder for employees. Employees who have questions should talk to a manager or supervisor.