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Auto Dismantlers Guide to Recycling Mercury Switches

June 21st, 2008 · No Comments

Mercury in Maine’s environment is a problem, particularly for infants and young children. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that 630,000 infants are born every year in the United States with unsafe levels of mercury in their blood.

Mercury emissions from human activity contribute to the problem. Sources include commonly used products that contain mercury. For example, fluorescent lamps sold in the U.S. in 2001 are reported to contain over 9 tons of mercury. Mercury is released when the lamps break, as inevitably happens when they are put in the trash. Although each lamp has only a few milligrams of mercury, over two million of them are sold in Maine every year.

In the case of motor vehicles, mercury is released when scrapped vehicles are shredded and smelted to make recycled steel. The Maine DEP estimates that motor vehicles in Maine currently contain about 1500 pounds of mercury in convenience light and ABS switches. Most of this mercury eventually will be released to the air unless these switches are removed before the vehicles are crushed.

This is why the Maine Legislature created a program to get these switches out before vehicles are flattened for recycling. Under the program, auto dismantlers and automakers share responsibility. Your role as a dismantler or salvage yard operator is to remove the switches and store them for recycling. Automakers will recycle the switches and pay you $4 per switch with a vehicle identification number to help offset your removal costs.

Get pdf Auto Dismantlers Guide to Recycling Mercury Switches

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