Mercury, a potent neurotoxin, is used as a component of a mechanical tilt switch in thermostats, and even though 18 states now have laws restricting the sale of mercury thermostats, millions remain on walls in homes and businesses across the country. On average, each thermostat contains approximately four grams of mercury. In 1994, there were approximately 63 million mercury thermostats still in use within the residential sector alone, equal to about 277 tons of mercury. A report commissioned by the Thermostat Recycling Corporation estimated that between 4 and 8.6 million thermostats will be entering the waste stream over the next 25 years in California alone. Despite the existence of an industry-funded program created by the Thermostat Recycling Corporation, only a small fraction of mercury thermostats are being safely collected.
Considering the failure of industry’s 13-year voluntary effort to increase the very low recycling rates, extended producer responsibility (EPR) laws are crucial to reducing the amount of mercury thermostats entering the waste stream. In 2010, Illinois and Rhode Island became the 8th and 9th states respectively to successfully pass a thermostat law based on model legislation developed by PSI.
What is PSI Doing on Thermostats?