Mercury switches are small metal capsules, often called "bullets" that contain approximately 1 gram of mercury each. They are generally located inside automobile trunk and hood convenience light fixtures, which they cause to operate. If switches are not removed prior to vehicle crushing, their mercury is vented to the atmosphere as an air pollutant during the smelting process where it eventually falls back to the earth, enters the food chain and is consumed by animals and humans. Starting in 2003, about 30 of New Hampshire's 200 automobile salvage facilities voluntarily collected mercury switches and turned them over to the NH Pollution Prevention Program, which paid for their recycling.
From 2003-2006, the New Hampshire Pollution Prevention Program collected and recycled about 5,700 mercury switches which equals 11 pounds of mercury. In 2007, New Hampshire joined the National Vehicle Mercury Switch Recycling Program; thus ending the voluntary program.
National Vehicle Mercury Switch Recycling Program (NVMSRP)
In August 2006, representatives of the auto industry, scrap and steel industry, auto dismantlers, EPA, state agencies and environmental groups formed the NVMSRP. The program was created to promote mercury switch recycling on a national basis. Unlike New Hampshire's voluntary program, NVMSRP provides salvage facilities a "bounty" of $1 per mercury switch and $3 for ABS assembly until the program's $4 million fund has been depleted. New Hampshire facilities were allowed to begin participation in January, 2007 when a letter was sent to all New Hampshire auto recyclers explaining the process in detail. Please refer to this letter for any questions you have when filling out the application for End of Life Vehicle Solutions (ELVS).
End of Life Vehicle Solutions
PO Box 3282
Farmington Hills, MI 48333-3282
More information is available from:
- NH Pollution Prevention Program at (603) 271-2956 or firstname.lastname@example.org
- NH Green Yards Program at (603) 271-2938 or email@example.com
To find out more about mercury switch releases to the environment, visit the Clean Car Campaign's Report on Mercury Pollution from Automobiles.
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