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Wayne Post
  • New state law requires recycling old thermostats

  • The law is aimed at protecting the environment from toxic mercury.
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  • A new law signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo will require manufacturers to collect and recycle mercury-containing thermostats at no cost to consumers, state Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens announced.
    The law implements a statewide thermostat-product stewardship program to ensure that hazardous mercury is properly handled, preventing potential adverse health effects and damage to the environment.
    Mercury is found in many older, wall-mounted thermostats used to regulate room temperatures. If these thermostats break, they can release mercury into the air, causing adverse health effects when inhaled. Exposure can also occur when mercury thermostats are improperly discarded into the solid waste stream because switches can break or be incinerated, releasing the mercury into the environment.
    Beginning July 1, 2014, thermostat manufacturers are required to establish a system for the collection, transport, recycling, disposal and proper management of out-of-service mercury thermostats, and also conduct education and outreach to consumers, thermostat wholesalers, contractors and contractor associations regarding the mercury thermostat collection program. The statewide goal for calendar year 2015 is to collect 15,500 out-of-service mercury thermostats.
    Under the law, thermostat manufacturers must offer wholesalers collection containers and participate as collection sites. Manufacturers must also provide collection containers and handling information to all thermostat retailers, qualified contractors and qualified local government authorities that request one. There will be no cost to participate in the program, and consumers will never be charged a fee for disposing of mercury thermostats.
    Mercury has been proven to cause negative health impacts, including impairing brain development. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that between 300,000 and 630,000 infants each year are born in the United States with mercury levels high enough to be associated with IQ loss. "This new law provides, at no cost to consumers, a clear path to remove mercury from the environment," according to the release.

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