AES Corporation Joins Plug-In Hybrid Development Consortium
Segway Introduces New Line of Personal Transporters

National Program for Scrap Cars to Reduce Mercury Emissions

The mercury switches used in autos are small, about the size of a new acorn. Source: EPA.

The Environmental Protection Agency has announced a new national program today that will help cut mercury air emissions by up to 75 tons over the next 15 years. The National Vehicle Mercury Switch Recovery Program is designed to remove mercury-containing light switches used for convenience lighting in hoods and trunks and in some anti-lock braking systems from scrap vehicles before the vehicles are flattened, shredded, and melted to make new steel.

The US automobile industry halted use of mercury-containing light switches in 2002, nine years after foreign automakers made the change. An estimated 67.5 million such switches are currently in use in older vehicles and available for recovery.

Each year, the steel industry recycles more than 14 million tons of steel from scrap vehicles, the equivalent to nearly 13.5 million new automobiles. Together with existing state mercury switch recovery efforts, this program will significantly reduce mercury air emissions from the furnaces used in steel making—the fourth leading source in the United States after coal-fired utility boilers, industrial boilers and gold mining.

Under the program, automobile dismantlers will remove the mercury-containing light switches from scrap vehicles prior to the vehicles being flattened and then shredded at scrap recycling facilities. The program will also provide a financial incentive for those who remove mercury switches.

Ten automakers created the End of Life Vehicle Solutions Corporation (ELVS), which will provide dismantlers with information and supplies needed for switch removal, collect and transport switches to proper recycling and disposal facilities, and track program performance.

Participating dismantlers will remove mercury-containing switches and ship them to ELVS, giving the dismantlers the ability to market reduced-mercury scrap. Participating scrap recyclers will build awareness of the mercury switch removal program in their own industry and in the dismantling industry, which is their chief supplier of scrap vehicles.

Participating steelmakers will educate and encourage their supply chain to participate, and will take steps to purchase scrap metal generated from participating dismantlers and recyclers that have removed the mercury-containing switches.

These industries will have support from participating environmental groups; the Environmental Council of the States (ECOS), the association representing state environmental agencies; and US EPA.



allen Z

Good, but this should had been done a long time ago. It is a low hanging fruit. However, I am hearing in this more of a voluntary program, and not much in enforcement, except with already in place laws/regulations.

fyi CO2

Only a 9 year lag behind the EU, enforcement with junkyard personnel, this is rubbish.

john galt

Write a letter to your Federal and State Senators and Representatives urging them to support enforcement of the National Vehicle Mercury Switch Recovery Program. This EPA guideline seems to have good intent. Like many useful laws and regulations, they often go unenforced. Unless there is a significant interest posed by constituents, then this will not hit the radar screen of politicians. Of course, there has to be something in this for the rich boyz club, otherwise the administration would not be supporting the measure. Regardless, it seems like a positive announcement.


I'm stunned that they were being used until such recent times!!!!

Roger Pham

Oh, Yeah, Auto Executives have children and grand children, too. And mercury contamination in the environment can cause neurotoxicity and neurological development problems (ie. dumb kids) that will lead to dumb and dummer generations. Don't eat tuna, lobster, albacore and other large sea fish on the top ladder of the food chain, for their flesh contain high level of mercury. Salmon and shrimp are Okay.

Scrap Gold Prices

Back in the '80s and early '90s, pro football and my primary rooting interests focused on the NFC East. The Redskins, Cowboys and Giants combined to win eight of 14 Super Bowls while the Eagles and Cardinals never sniffed a title game. Now, admittedly, the Eagles were pretty good some of the time and the Cardinals were among the dregs of the league, but no one confuses the accomplishments of Buddy and Kotite with those of Gibbs and Parcells. More importantly, to me at least, is that Philly was an...

The comments to this entry are closed.