Mercury and other heavy metals, improperly managed, pose danger
to human and environmental health. Common sources of mercury include,
thermometers, light bulbs, and thermostats. Used mercury thermostats have
no place in our landfills and should be properly recycled. Replacing mercury
thermostats with energy saving programmable electronic thermostats increases
the opportunity to prevent pollution.
FACTS ABOUT THERMOSTATS
- There are more than 50 million mercury-containing thermostats in homes
across the United States. Mercury has been used in thermostats since
- A mercury-switch thermostat uses mercury in a sealed glass bulb. Each
bulb contains approximately three grams of mercury, which is about the
size of a dime. (These facts provided by Honeywell, Inc.)
atomic number= 80,
density= 13.53 g/ml
Peaks to Prairies provides the following information and related links
for states and regions wishing to develop mercury thermostat recycling programs
based on the success of the Montana Weatherization Program. Please contact
Mike Vogel if you have questions or
need further assistance.
In the fall of 1999, the Montana State University Extension Service developed
a program to reduce the amount of mercury going into Montana landfills from
mercury containing thermostats. The Montana Department of Public Health and
Human Services (DPHHS), Human Resources Development Council (HRDC) and MSU Extension
Low Income Weatherization Assistance Program were the partners needed to make
this happen. HRDC technicians make weatherization improvements to homes
across the state including up to 2000 furnace modifications and changeouts throughout
the year. To implement the mercury reduction program, the Weatherization Program
(with funding from DPHHS) provided training to technicians to properly collect
and recycle the many mercury thermostats discovered in these retrofits.
Technicians collect mercury thermostats from clients and store them in a padded
envelope in a lined PVC bucket. The bucket is properly labeled under "universal
waste regulations". Accompanying each bucket is a thermostat
collection log, MSDS
sheets and a mercury spill
clean-up kit. Technicians turn in thermostats to an Extension Service representative
at quarterly or semi-annual trainings. The thermostats are then taken to an
approved storage facility and shipped to a recycler
when an appropriate number is accrued. With increasing national concern about
PBT’s, this has been an effective measure to prevent air, soil, and water problems
caused by this obvious source of mercury in landfills in our region.
Click on the following links to read about other programs in Ohio and Indiana.
Montana's program takes P2 one step further by replacing the mercury thermostats
programmable thermostats adding an energy conservation component.
With traditional thermostats, the same temperature is maintained unless the
occupant is diligent in manually adjusting the unit. Programmable thermostats
allow for automatic adjustments while occupants are asleep or away from home.
Programmable thermostats offer as much as a 50 percent rate of return. (Source:
Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy Network, http://www.eere.energy.gov/).
Business sponsor Johnstone Supply of Billings contributed financially
to this aspect of the program which Montana State University Extension
Service continues to manage.
Summary of links for this page:
-Universal Waste Rule
-Lab Safety Corp.*
http://education.jlab.org/itselemental/ele080.html -Jefferson Lab
http://www.in.gov/idem/opa/hvac/index.html -Indiana Hg Program
http://www.state.sd.us/denr/des/wastemgn/Recycling/Bulbs.htm -SD list of
http://www.epa.state.oh.us/opp/recyc/mercrec.html - Ohio list of recyclers
http://www.mwsi.com/ -Mercury Waste Solutions
-DOE Thermostats Fact Sheet
- National Mercury Reduction Database
* note: The use of commercial sites does not express or imply any endorsement
for the views, services or products displayed there, by Peaks to Prairies or
any other program partners.