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Mercury: P2 Opportunities
Table of Contents
Background and Overview
Mercury in Products
Health Effects
Fish Advisories
Regulations & Policies
P2 Opportunities
Where To Go for Help
Complete List of Links

Many states, organizations, and communities have initiated a variety of assistance programs aimed at reducing mercury pollution from commercial, industrial, and consumer sources and in products. States have also implemented outreach programs to inform the public about potential health effects of mercury pollution.

Pollution prevention (P2) opportunities to reduce sources of mercury pollution in commercial, institutional, or industrial applications are typically organized around sectors that are known to use products that contain mercury (sector-based approach). Common sectors for mercury pollution reduction efforts include:

  • Clinics and Hospitals
  • Dental Facilities
  • Educational Institutions and Labs
  • Dairies or Farms
  • Plumbing and Electrical Contracting Facilities
  • Manufacturing Facilities
  • Publicly-owned Treatment Works (POTWs)
  • Office Buildings
  • Government Agencies

Households and communities are also the focus of mercury pollution prevention efforts. The Northeast Waste Management Officials Association (NEWMOA) developed a document, Eight Good Ideas for Reducing Mercury Exposure and Pollution in your Community, as a guide for municipalities that want to implement pollution prevention activities in their communities: [PDF]

Examples of mercury pollution prevention and reduction programs are shown in Table 2.

Table 2: Mercury Reduction Programs with a Product Focus
Pollution Prevention Programs Collection and Recycling Activities
Educating consumers, small businesses, retail stores, and other businesses about purchasing products that do not contain mercury Promoting public awareness of appropriate disposal and recycling options for products that contain mercury
Implementing environmentally preferable purchasing (EPP) policies for government agencies Expanding household hazardous waste collections to include items that contain mercury
Sponsoring mercury fever thermometer exchanges Promoting fluorescent lamp recycling in businesses and households
Installing dental amalgam separators in dental offices Removing and recycling mercury switches from white goods and automobiles
Working with schools and hospitals to encourage them to eliminate mercury use Promoting programs for collecting and recycling mercury thermostats

There are non-mercury alternatives available for many comparable products that contain mercury. In fact, some non-mercury products have replaced their mercury-added counterparts, and these "alternatives" are now the norm. For example, the majority of fever thermometers available for sale in the U.S. are non-mercury. These digital, alcohol-based, or other mineral spirit thermometers are inexpensive, accurate, and widely available. They are used in homes, hospitals, and schools.

Many measuring devices that traditionally contained mercury are now being replaced with non-mercury versions. Barometers, manometers, hydrometers, psychrometers, and lab thermometers are available in digital, aneroid, alcohol and/or mineral spirit alternative devices. Many of these measuring devices are used in schools or laboratories and switching to non-mercury devices prevents mercury pollution as a result of breakage, a spill, or at end-of-life and reduces the risk of mercury exposure to teachers, students, and the environment. For information on non-mercury alternatives found in schools, go to: [PDF].

For additional information on mercury-added products and their non-mercury alternatives, see EPA's Database on Mercury-Containing Products and Alternatives at:

There are a variety of IMERC Mercury Product Fact Sheets that focus on specific mercury-added products and alternatives at:

Mercury Reduction Programs
The National Mercury Reduction Programs Database is an online compilation of information on federal, state, and local programs focused on reducing mercury releases to the environment. The programs involve sector-based and/or product-based assistance approaches. Sometimes these approaches are combined. Users may view a list of records by state or agency. They may also conduct a search for specific mercury reduction programs based on the types of programs (e.g., sector-specific or community-based) or the mercury products that are affected.

Last Updated: 11/14/08


The Topic Hub™ is a product of the Pollution Prevention Resource Exchange (P2Rx)

The Mercury Topic Hub™ was developed by:

Northeast Waste Management Officials' Association
Northeast Waste Management Officials' Association
Contact email:

Hub Last Updated: 12/4/2012