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Products and Devices that contain Mercury

mercury-masthead
 
A person cannot sell or distribute for promotional purposes, in California, certain types of new or refurbished products and devices that contain mercury.
 

When mercury is released into the environment, it can be converted to methyl mercury by aquatic bacteria. Methyl mercury is a highly toxic compound that does not break down. Once introduced into the ground and water supply, mercury accumulates in living tissue through the aquatic food chain and can severely affect the health of humans and wildlife. 

 

Products such as thermostats and thermometers, as well as smaller devices, including mercury switches and relays found in appliances and manufacturing equipment, contain a significant amount of mercury.

 

Concluding that it was critical to eliminate the use of mercury in those products where alternatives existed, the California State Legislature enacted Assembly Bill (AB) 1415. This law can be found in Health and Safety Code, Division 20, Chapter 6.5; Mercury-Added Thermostats, Relays, Switches, and Measuring Devices (Sections 25214.8.1-25214.8.6).

 

AB 1415 prohibits a person from selling the following new or refurbished mercury-added products in California:

  1. Mercury switches
  2. Mercury relays
  3. Mercury diostats
  4. Products that contain mercury switches or relays   
  5. Mercury-added thermostats (for more on thermostats please see the Mercury Thermostat Collection Act of 2008)
  6. Barometers
  7. Esophageal dilators, bougie tubes, or gastrointestinal tubes
  8. Flow meters
  9. Hydrometers
  10. Psychometers
  11. Manometers
  12. Pyrometers
  13. Sphygmomanometers
  14. Thermometers

AB 1415 also exempts certain products and devices from mercury restrictions. The following mercury-containing products and devices can be sold in California:

 

       Products whose only mercury component is a mercury button cell battery

       Mercury-added products, including mercury switches and relays, required for use under federal law or federal contract

       Mercury switches and relays used to replace those same components in larger products in use before July 1, 2006, if one of the following applies:

        The larger product is used in manufacturing, or

        The switches and relays are not physically separate from the larger product.

 
Some Mercury Products you may find in the home
How do you know if a Product Contains Mercury
Exemptions that require notification to DTSC
Exemptions that require approval from DTSC
What type of information must a manufacturer submit to DTSC?
Notifications submitted to DTSC
Administrative fees for manufacturers of products that contain mercury switches or relays (Health & Safety Code § 25214.8.5, subd. [b] [7])

Some Mercury Products you may find in the home
   
• Thermometers  
• Thermostats
• Button Cell Batteries
• Fluorescent Light Bulbs (tubes and CFLs)
• Mercury Switches (in automobiles and appliances)
• Barometers
• Blood Pressure Gauges
• Mercury-Added Novelties. This category includes practical joke items, figurines, jewelry, toys, games, cards, ornaments, yard statues and figures, candles, holiday decorations, and foot-wear that contain mercury or mercury batteries. Effective January 1, 2003, the California Mercury Reduction Act banned sale of mercury-added novelties in this state, but some people still have them in their homes.
• Some cosmetics (e.g. skin lightening creams)
• Banned pesticides and latex paint



How do you know if a Product Contains Mercury

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) provides some help in identifying products that contain mercury.  Online, you can go to:

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has posted a list of mercury in drug and biologic products (last updated in 2006):  http://www.fda.gov/RegulatoryInformation/Legislation/FederalFoodDrugandCosmeticActFDCAct/SignificantAmendmentstotheFDCAct/FDAMA/ucm100218.htm

Some products will also have the mercury symbol, Hg, on the product or product packaging (such as fluorescent lamps), and some products may actually list mercury in the product ingredients (such as cosmetics).  With the exception of cosmetics used around the eyes, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has banned mercury entirely from cosmetics.




Exemptions that require notification to DTSC

AB 1415 exempts certain products containing mercury devices and specific mercury switches sold in California only if the manufacturer notifies DTSC.

             

The following manufacturers may submit a notification for an exemption:

 

1.      A manufacturer of mercury switches containing less than 1 milligram of mercury

2.      A manufacturer of a refurbished imaging or therapy system (that includes a mercury switch or relay) used for medical diagnostic purposes manufactured before July 1, 2006.

 

All notifications must be signed and dated and are valid for three years. A new notification must be resubmitted when the three-year period expires.




Exemptions that require approval from DTSC

In addition, AB 1415 allows manufacturers of products that contain mercury switches and relays, or their trade groups, to request an exemption from DTSC. A manufacturer or trade group can only apply for an exemption for a product for which there is no technically feasible alternative, at a reasonable cost. All requests submitted must be approved, and the manufacturer or trade group must be contacted by DTSC, before the exemption is valid.

 

All requests must be signed and dated, and all exemptions granted by DTSC are valid for three years. A request for a new exemption must be resubmitted when the three-year period expires.




What type of information must a manufacturer submit to DTSC?

Please click on the type of manufacturer you are to see what information must be included in the notification or request to DTSC. All information must thoroughly address the requirements listed for each type of manufacturer.

 

Manufacturer of mercury switches containing less than 1 milligram of mercury.

 

Manufacturer of a refurbished imaging or therapy system  (must be used for medical purposes and manufactured before July 1, 2006)

 

Manufacturer of a product that contains mercury switches or relays (can be submitted by a trade group representing a manufacturer)




Notifications submitted to DTSC
Manufacturers of mercury switches or relays that contain less than 1 milligram of mercury and of refurbished imaging and therapy systems are not required to wait for DTSC to grant an exemption. However, notifications submitted that are determined by DTSC to be incomplete will not be valid until the requirements set forth in AB 1415 are fulfilled.



Administrative fees for manufacturers of products that contain mercury switches or relays (Health & Safety Code § 25214.8.5, subd. [b] [7])

When manufacturers or trade groups request an exemption for products that contain mercury switches or relays they are also required to enter into a written agreement to reimburse DTSC for all costs incurred in processing and responding to that request.

 

When a request for an exemption is received, DTSC will contact the manufacturer or trade group and provide the following information:

>       A detailed description of the work to be performed by DTSC

>      An estimated billing rate for all classes of DTSC employees reviewing the request

>      An estimate of all other expected charges to the manufacturer or trade group

 

All charges may be adjusted if new information supports the adjustment.

 

This law can found in Health and Safety Code, Division 20, Chapter 6.5, Article 9.2 (Sections 25206.1-25206.4).

 




 
 
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