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Mercury-containing Products Legislation

Federal Legislation | State Legislation | International Legislation

Federal Legislation

EPA's Universal Waste Rule - designed to reduce the amount of hazardous waste items in the municipal solid waste stream. It encourages recycling and proper disposal of certain mercury-containing items, such as batteries, thermostats, and lamps.

Mercury-Containing and Rechargeable Battery Management Act (the "Battery Act") - signed into law on May 13, 1996, restricted the sale of certain batteries that contain mercury.

Discarded Mercury-Containing Equipment Rule

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State Legislation

Many states have enacted legislation and written regulations with the goal of reducing mercury emissions to air, land, and water. Consult EPA's Mercury Laws and Regulations page for details on activity in all 50 states. Two examples of mercury legislation are:


Law requiring labeling of mercury-containing products Exit EPA- passed in 1998 and was the first to require such labels on thermostats, thermometers, electric relay switches, medical instruments, fluorescent lamps, and batteries that contain mercury.

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International Legislation

European Union

Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) and Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) Directive 2008 Proposal Exit EPA- In December 2008, the European Commission proposed to revise the directives on electrical and electronic equipment in order to tackle the fast increasing waste stream of such products. The aim was to increase the amount of e-waste that is appropriately treated and to reduce the amount that goes to final disposal.

The directives were originally passed in October 2002 to ban the sale of new electrical and electronic equipment containing mercury, and became effective July 1, 2006. The legislation provided for the creation of collection schemes where consumers return their used e-waste free of charge. The objective was to increase the recycling and/or re-use of such products. It also required heavy metals such as lead, mercury, cadmium, and chromium and flame retardants such as polybrominated biphenyls (PBB) or polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE) to be substituted by safer alternatives.

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