September 28, 2007

Auto mercury recovery programs running in all 50 U.S. states

Washington, D.C. – A voluntary national program in the U.S. to remove mercury switches in scrap vehicles has resulted in the removal of more than 635,000 switches in the program’s first year. Collectively, the switches represent 1,400 pounds (635 kg) of mercury.

No longer used on automobiles, the switches are used mostly to trigger engine hood lights.

In August 2006, the Environmental Protection Agency and eight organizations launched a program to recover the switches from end-of-life vehicles manufactured prior to 2002 before they were dismantled. The program has the potential to recover 80 to 90 per cent of available switches. Two primary goals have been achieved: enlisting all states to take part, and developing a way to measure overall program progress in future years. Progress will be measured by determining the percentage of switches recovered each year, compared to the number of available end-of-life vehicles from which switches can be recovered. Approximately 5,900 automobile recyclers have agreed to remove and recover the switches before sending vehicles to scrap recyclers.

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