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October 26, 2010

New rule also regulates use of mercury in Wisconsin schools

MADISON -- Mercury-containing devices may no longer be sold in Wisconsin under a new law that goes into effect Nov. 1.

Signed in October 2009, Wisconsin Act 44 created Sections 118.07 (4) and 299.49 of the Wisconsin Statutes to ban the sale of many devices made with mercury.

"Mercury is a hazardous material that can cause serious environmental and human health problems," says Sue Bangert, administrator of the Air and Waste Division in the Department of Natural Resources. "When products containing mercury are broken, disposed of in a landfill, or incinerated, they risk releasing mercury into the environment, and once it is in the environment, mercury cannot be removed."

The ban covers devices for which mercury-free alternatives are widely available:

The law does allow the DNR to grant exemptions to the ban for specific circumstances. See the mercury as an element pages of the DNR website for more information.

In addition to a general ban on the sale of mercury-containing devices, Act 44 also includes regulations on mercury in schools. Since the beginning of this year, schools were no longer allowed to purchase free-flowing mercury or any mercury-containing equipment. Beginning January 1, 2012, schools may no longer store mercury anywhere in the building, and must remove all traces of mercury from science labs, equipment and machinery. Schools are not required to make any unplanned changes to equipment such as thermostats or other mercury-containing HVAC infrastructure.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Sue Bangert at (608) 266-0014

Last Revised: Tuesday, October 26, 2010

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