EPA Assessment Highlights Mercury-Free Alternatives

There are alternatives to mercury, according to a preliminary assessment of the uses of elemental mercury in a number of products. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has concluded that switches, relays, button cell batteries, non-fever thermometers, and measuring devices, such as thermostats, don't have to contain mercury.

Under the Chemical Assessment and Management Program, EPA evaluated the use of elemental mercury in certain products and the availability of effective, economical mercury-free alternatives. The assessment determined that the use of mercury in certain products poses a "high-priority, special concern." The agency plans to take prompt regulatory and voluntary action to encourage the use of mercury-free alternatives and reduce the use of mercury in products.

EPA has also developed a searchable database that pulls together publicly available information from various sources to help identify consumer and commercial products that contain mercury and their possible non-mercury alternatives. EPA encourages people to use non-mercury alternatives whenever possible as an important way to prevent exposure to mercury, including exposure due to breakage.

For more information on the mercury assessment, visit http://www.epa.gov/chemrtk/hpvis/index.html. For more information on the database, go to http://www.epa.gov/mercury/database.htm.