Universal Waste Guide: Mercury-Containing Equipment

Certain categories of hazardous waste are regulated under the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ruling as universal waste. Universal waste is a category of hazardous waste commonly generated by various establishments, encouraging the development of municipal and commercial recycling programs. Universal waste management protects employees and the environment from potential risks. This blog explains proper methods for mercury waste disposal.

Universal Waste Categories

There are five types of universal waste defined by Title 40 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 273: batteries, pesticides, mercury-containing devices, lamps or light bulbs, and aerosol cans.

Mercury-Containing Devices

A mercury-containing device or equipment consists of items or articles that contain some elemental mercury integral to the instrument’s function. These articles are found in various industries, typically in the electrical utility industry. Elemental mercury devices include thermometers, barometers, manometers, and mercury switches (such as light switches in some older vehicles).

Universal Waste Regulations and Mercury-Containing Devices

According to the U.S. Department of Environmental Protection, although naturally occurring, mercury is easily volatilized and may be dispersed widely throughout the air. In water, mercury transforms through biological processes into methylmercury, accumulating in aquatic organisms. Exposure to mercury in the environment has lasting effects on the nervous system and causes human development damage. Because of this, combined with how common mercury is in devices we all once used, the EPA has deemed mercury a universal waste.

This means mercury in manufactured articles must be disposed of properly, transported by a licensed transporter, and reclaimed at an approved universal waste recycling facility. However, elemental mercury, on its own, must be managed as a hazardous waste. 

Contact Maine Labpack, Inc.

Do you have elemental mercury or mercury in a manufactured article? Contact us today to learn about recycling and disposal options for mercury waste disposal and universal waste management.