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Contact information
For information on Act 44 or to request an exemption, contact:
Andrea Keller
Waste & Materials Management Program

Mercury products ban - 2009 Wisconsin Act 44

Wisconsin Act 44 was signed in October 2009 and regulates the sale and use of mercury and mercury containing devices. The law has two components. One component regulates the sale and distribution of specific mercury and mercury-containing devices to Wisconsin citizens, businesses, institutions and others. The second component regulates the sale and use of mercury and mercury containing devices in Wisconsin K-12 schools.

This page contains summaries of both components of the law. For complete information, please review 2009 Wisconsin Act 44 [PDF exit DNR] and s.299.49(3), Wis. Stats. [PDF exit DNR].

Mercury in products ban

As of November 1, 2010, a ban went into effect for the sale and use of certain mercury containing devices.

Banned devices

Mercury-containing devices included under the law are:

  • all thermometers, including fever thermometers;
  • all manometers, including the type used in dairy farm milking machines;
  • thermostats;
  • instruments or measuring devices (unless required under federal law or the only mercury-added component is a button cell battery), including:
    • barometers;
    • esophageal dilators, etc;
    • flowmeters;
    • hydrometers;
    • hygrometer/psychrometers;
    • pyrometesr; and
    • sphygmomameters.
  • mercury switches and relays (individually or as a product component unless that component in a larger product is in use prior to the effective date of the ban); and
  • household items (unless the only component is a button cell battery), including:
    • toys or games;
    • jewelry;
    • clothing or shoes;
    • over-the-counter pharmaceuticals for human use; and
    • cosmetic, toiletry and fragrance products.

Compact fluorescent bulbs are not covered by the ban. The DNR encourages the use of these energy saving bulbs as well as their proper management once they have reached the end of their useful life.


Exemptions to the mercury ban in products may be granted by the DNR in certain circumstances. To apply for an exemption, a manufacturer or user must submit a written request to the DNR. This written request must show that the mercury product is reasonable and appropriate for a specific use based on the following criteria.

  1. A system exists for proper collection, transport and processing of the product at the end of its life.
  2. One of the following applies:
    • use of the product provides a net benefit to the environment, public health or public safety when compared to available nonmercury alternatives; or
    • technically feasible nonmercury alternatives are not available at comparable costs.

Exemptions may not exceed five years in length but may be renewed if the manufacturer or user complies with original exemption conditions. Prior to applying for an exemption, please closely review s.299.49(3), Wis. Stats. [PDF exit DNR]

Prior to approving an exemption, the department may consult with neighboring states to promote consistency in the regulation of mercury−added products. The department may request a person who is granted an exemption to maintain records and provide reasonable reports to the department that characterize mercury use in the products for which the exemption was granted.

Mercury in schools ban

Wisconsin K-12 schools (including school boards, private schools and charter schools) may not knowingly:

  • purchase or use free-flowing elemental mercury;
  • purchase or use a mercury-containing instrument or measuring device unless exempt (i.e., there is no reasonable alternative or use is required by federal law);
  • store free-flowing elemental mercury; or
  • store a mercury-containing compound or an instrument or measuring device containing mercury, unless exempt.

For more information, visit Mercury ban in schools.

Last revised: Friday June 01 2018