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Mercury Management

Ric wrote:  

  One and All,
    Over the past few months, in Pa., problems have arose involving 
    the handling of mercury.  It seems that a small spill of mercury 
    in a high school resulted in the evacuation of the school until a 
    clean-up was performed.  Students at another school, finding this 
    an interesting way to get some time off, spilled mercury down 
    stairwells, again resulting in evacuation, etc.  This was followed 
    by an accident inwhich a dropped thermometer containing mercury 
    created another problem in a school lab.  To make a long story 
    shorter, the state has offered to perform FREE mercury pick-ups 
    (for residents) to allow non-industrial types to get the stuff off 
    their hands without a disposal problem.
    1)  I would like to caution anyone, anywhere, that they may see 
    fit to head-off such problems in advance.  Offer collection points 
    for the stuff, old mercury thermometers, barometers, or other such 
    devices.  Warn people about the liabilities.
    2)  Now, the state has to deal with the management of the mercury.  
    Disposal should NOT be an option.  Scrap dealers want paid to 
    manage the mercury.  We figure the material may have more value 
    than that (although we are not looking to make money off this 
    Can anyone suggest a good way to deal with collected mercury or 
    mercury-containing devices??  (We are looking at mercury lamp 
    recyclers as one possible outlet.)
    YOUR help will be greatly appreciated (provided your answer does 
    not involve the use of dead chickens...is anyone feeling 
As you stated, some commercial lamp recyclers may accept other
mercury-containing devices/materials for recycling.  I know this is the case in
Ohio, where a few lamp recyclers have diversified their services to include
barometers, thermometers, mercury switches, bougie tubes, etc.   Minnesota
has developed a fairly comprehensive program for collecting mercury lamps
from households.  It would seem reasonable that other mercury containing
devices could be integrated in such programs.  Emily Moore
(emore@oe.moea.state.mn.us) is the coordinator of this program and is
sending me details on it.  Honeywell has developed a national program for
collecting and recycling thermostats ( believe only Honeywell thermostats)
under the Universal Waste Rule.   Commercial mercury recovery companies
may be another outlet for the mercury and mercury devices you referenced. 
We have a list of mercury recyclers available to the public.  Some battery
recyclers accept  mercury-containing batteries.   We also have a list (national)
of battery recyclers (not lead-acid).   Hope this helps.
[Note: no pecking order here.  May the "chicken story" live and prosper].

Art Coleman, Ohio EPA
Division of Hazardous Waste Management
P.O. Box 1049
Columbus, Ohio 43216-1049
(614) 644-2968
Fax (614) 728-1245 or (614) 644-2329