Thermostats (wall-mounted mercury switch)
Mercury is found in some switches, thermostats and thermostat probes. Mercury, and mercury containing products, is considered a hazardous waste and must be disposed of properly.
In 2008, mercury thermostat collection legislation was passed in California requiring thermostat manufacturers to establish collection programs for contractor and consumer-generated mercury thermostats. The legislation also requires all HVAC wholesale distributors with facilities in California to act as a collection point for waste mercury thermostats.
Some wall mounted thermostats use mercury switches to sense and control room temperature in heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) equipment. Mercury thermostats were widely used in California prior to 1992 and were legal to buy until 2006. The mercury switch is a glass vial with mercury in it which conducts electricity to the temperature control equipment. Replace mercury thermostats with non-toxic programmable (digital) thermostats.
Why should mercury thermostats be recycled?
Approximately 3 grams of mercury is used in a thermostat. Disposing of old thermostats, using traditional methods (throwing out in the trash) result in breakage, allowing mercury to be released into the environment. Elemental mercury is a powerful neurotoxin and does not break down, but builds up in fish, birds and people. Inhaling or ingesting mercury over time can cause irreversible damage to the brain, kidneys, or to developing fetuses. The safe recovery of mercury-containing thermostats prevents pollution and protects public health.
About the Mercury Thermostat Collection Act of 2008
AB 2347 requires that beginning July 1, 2009 all heating and air conditioning wholesalers with physical locations in California will be required by law to collect end-of use thermostats from the public at no charge.
Are you a General Contractor who accepts mercury thermostats?
The Thermostat Recycling Corporation (TRC) is now offering incentives for general contractors to collect mercury thermostats in California. Incentives include free collection bins, free shipping, and $100 per full bin (minimum 40 thermostats) returned to TRC. Visit thermostat-recycle.org to sign up for a bin.
1. Drop-off wall-mounted mercury switch thermostats at all heating and air conditioning wholesalers: for residents & businesses
See locations below.
2. Dispose of spent mercury thermostats and other mercury products through the Agency's Hazardous Waste programs: for residents & businesses
Household Hazardous Waste Facility
Household Hazardous Waste Collection Events
Household Hazardous Waste Rover Pickup Service
3. Mail back recycling options: for HVAC contractors and builders
Funded by manufacturers, the Thermostat Recycling Corporation (TRC) provides HVAC contractors and builders free postage-paid collections bins with a one-time set up fee.