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Mercury and Recycling
         

Mercury Switches

Many vehicles manufactured between 1977 and 2003 contain mercury switches. The switches were commonly used to turn on lights in glove boxes, trunks and hoods. Mercury switches also were used in anti-lock brake and air bag sensors. The switches were used in many models of vehicles.

In May 2006, South Carolina passed legislation (Section 44-96-185 of the S.C. Solid Waste Policy and Management Act of 1991) setting up the S.C. Mercury Switch Removal Program. The program is intended to remove and recycle mercury switches from old vehicles before they are crushed and shredded.

According to the legislation, “no person shall knowingly place an end-of-life vehicle into the production stream for a steel recycling facility in South Carolina containing a mercury switch.” As such, automobile dismantlers and scrap metal recycling facilities should participate in the S.C. Mercury Switch Removal Program. Through the program, the state is encouraging recycling and helping to reduce mercury releases into the environment.

The state’s program is offered in partnership with End-of-Life Vehicle Solutions (ELVS), a non-profit corporation formed by automobile manufacturers to manage and recycle the collected switches as well as provide educational materials at no cost.

Participating in the program is easy. Automobile dismantlers or scrap metal recycling facilities may participate in the S.C. Mercury Switch Removal Program by registering with ELVS. For more information, visit www.scdhec.gov/environment/lwm/recycle/pubs/mercury_switch.pdf.
         

 



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