Mercury Containing Products and Alternatives

Due to its toxic and bioaccumulative properties, there has been a growing effort to eliminate non-essential uses of mercury. While some manufacturers have taken steps to reduce or eliminate the use of mercury in their products, a large number of items that contain mercury are still available in the marketplace. Some of these products include fluorescent lamps (including compact fluorescent lamps), appliances, button cell batteries, chemical compounds, computers, heating and cooling equipment, thermometers, manometers, pumps, transducers, and valves.

Mercury-free alternatives are available for many mercury-containing products. These alternatives, which include digital and electronic devices, are cost effective and work just as well as mercury-containing items.

  • The Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) commissioned the Lowell Center for Sustainable Production (LCSP) at the University of Massachusetts at Lowell to study alternatives to mercury-containing products. The LCSP also investigated mercury button cell batteries for the Maine DEP.
  • The Wisconsin Mercury Source Book is another comprehensive source on mercury-containing products and their alternatives.
  • The Interstate Mercury Education and Reduction Clearinghouse maintains a database of mercury-containing consumer products sold in several states. This includes information on both the amount and purpose of the mercury in the product.
  • Health Care Without Harm is an international coalition of hospitals and health care systems, medical professionals, community groups, health-affected constituencies, labor unions, environmental and environmental health organizations and religious groups working to implement ecologically sound and healthy alternatives to health care practices that pollute the environment and contribute to disease.
  • The Illinois EPA has prepared a fact sheet that outlines alternatives to mercury-containing products that may be used in K-12 schools.