The Postal Service is reminding customers that metallic mercury and devices containing metallic mercury are always prohibited in the mail stream.

This includes antique items such as thermometers, barometers, blood pressure monitors and similar devices.

However, compact fluorescent lamps, which contain small amounts of mercury in vapor form, are mailable domestically but not internationally.

Mercury is a hazardous substance that produces toxic vapors if exposed to air and causes mercury poisoning if the vapors become inhaled.

Items that contain mercury may become damaged or broken during shipping. The threat of serious illness or injury caused by exposure to a leaking mercury package is real.

Improper, undeclared, or prohibited hazmat (hazardous material) shipping can have serious consequences for everyone involved.

Anyone who mails, or causes to be mailed, a nonmailable or improperly packaged hazardous material can be subject to legal penalties--like fines and imprisonment.

The transport of hazardous materials prior to entry as U.S. Mail and after receipt from the Postal Service is subject to Department of Transportation regulations.

If a person knowingly mails items or materials that are dangerous or injurious to life, health, or property, they may face a civil penalty of at least $250, but not more than $100,000 per violation, the costs of any cleanup associated with each violation, and damages. They may also face criminal penalties.

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