Other Federal Agencies
Mercury is one of the most widespread, persistent and toxic contaminants in our environment. Its incorporation into many products and its emission from combustion processes has resulted in well documented instances of watercourse poisonings, high level occupational exposures, and worldwide, chronic, low-level environmental exposures. In order to prevent the continued release and build-up of mercury in the environment, many organizations and state and federal agencies are currently working towards eliminating major sources of mercury releases. Mercury is found in flourescent lamps and may still be present in various batteries and electrical devices such as the tilt switches found in legecy but still common thermostats.
If not properly disposed of, mercury can enter the environment via a number of paths:
- If a mercury-containing item is thrown into the trash and the trash goes to a landfill, the mercury may be released into the atmosphere from landfill vapors or leachate. If the trash is incinerated, mercury vapor will be released into the air.
- If mercury is flushed through a wastewater system, the mercury will probably adhere to the wastewater sludge. It may then be spread on farmland, or may evaporate and be deposited elsewhere.
U.S. EPA Mercury Home Page. Starting point for EPA's mercury resources.
Laws and Regulations. Under certain Federal environmental statutes, such as the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, EPA has the responsibility to develop regulations to control some mercury emissions to air, water, or from wastes and products. This page outlines those regulations.
Other Federal Agencies/Programs
OSHA's Mercury Home Page Starting point for OSHA mercury standard and many other resources.
Mercury State Resources Tool. This tool contains links to agencies, regulations and resources that can help you determine your enviromental responsibilities associated with mercury-containing devices or mercury contamination. Where available, it also contains links to mercury recycling and disposal sites.
Universal Waste State Resource Locator. This tool contains links to state universal waste regulations which cover the disposal of many mercury-containing devices.
NEMA's State Mercury-Containing Product Legislation Tool. National Electric Manufacturer's Association maintains a state-by-state tool that presents labeling, product phase-out, manufacturer take-back, notification, and disposal ban requirements information for mercury-containing products.
Association of Lighting and Mercury RecyclersThe ALMR represents the majority of commercial processors of mercury-bearing wastes in the U.S. Members recycled about 85% of all the lamps that were recycled last yeat. Association Members provide a comprehensive service network throughout North America to assist with collection., processing, recycling, and recovery of spent mercury lamps, ballasts batteries, electronic products, and other watstes with hazardous levels of mercury. Member companies operate 60 locations in the U.S.
Thermostat Recycling Corporation. The TRC is a private corporation established by thermostat manufacturers Honeywell, General Electric, and White Rodgers. It is a voluntary, industry-sponsored program that provides a mechanism for the proper disposal of mercury switch thermostats, regardless of brand. (More than 1,300 wholesale suppliers of thermostats participate in the TRC program – a full list of participating wholesalers as of September, 2006, is provided at www.nema.org/trc.)
Fact Sheet: Industrial Mercury Use. A fact sheet on specific mercury-containing products, including thermometers, pressure gauges, thermostats, and switches, available from Inform.