Mercury Switch-Out
  Goal of the Switch Out: To develop and implement an effective, cost-efficient and sustainable system that will recover a minimum of 90% of automotive mercury switches prior to auto recycling.

Producer Take-Back Campaigns » back

Serious environmental and human health effects result from the release of mercury contained in electrical switches used in vehicle lighting and braking systems as well as contained in LED lights and headlamps when vehicles are scrapped and enter the steel recycling infrastructure.

It is estimated that automobiles in the US will be responsible for the environmental release of up to 493,000 pounds of mercury from the estimated 217 million auto switches installed in vehicles from 1974-2003. Nearly 50%, or over 246,000 pounds, of that has already been released. Over 54,000 pounds of mercury from the switches have been released into the environment since 2001 alone.

As a part of the Partnership for Mercury Free Vehicles, the GrassRoots Recycling Network is addressing this issue closely in Wisconsin. The estimated 260,000 vehicles retired in Wisconsin in 2003 contained nearly 300 pounds of mercury from over 160,000 convenience light and brake system switches.

Mercury in vehicle switches poses a danger to human health, to the environment, and to several important sectors of the Wisconsin economy. The solution is to mandate mercury switch removal by all dismantlers and to establish a producer-financed system that provides an incentive to the dismantlers, ensures continued funding of the program, and forces producers to take responsibility for the design problems they have created.

The time for action is now. After years of unnecessary delay, the automakers ceased using mercury switches in 2003. However, until those 2003 models are retired, every year that goes by represents another 300 pounds of mercury that are potentially released from retired automobiles in Wisconsin as well as 18,000 pounds throughout the US.

Important Links: Learn more...

  Environmental Impact of Cars: Mercury in Vehicles Update [off-site] [pdf]
· brought to you by the Clean Car Campaign (see below)

Mercury in Vehicles: A Sensible Solution to a Serious Problem [pdf]
· Learn what they're doing in Wisconsin.

  Model Mercury Legislation [pdf]
Clean Car Campaign Clean Car Campaign [off-site]
· for national information

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