Mercury Thermostat Recycling Program

Image of a thermostat The DHHS Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) Program encourages heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) wholesalers, distributors, and contractors to participate in the Thermostat Recycling Corporation's Thermostat Recycling Program. The program is designed to provide a convenient and cost-effective way to recycle mercury thermostats and is free to Nebraska Participants.

The Thermostat Recycling Corporation (TRC) was established by Honeywell, White-Rodgers, and General Electric to recycle all brands of wall-mounted mercury thermostats. It is a reverse distribution system where thermostats are collected after they have been removed from service and are put into the special collection containers located at participating facilities for recycling.  

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When the collection container is full, the participating facility returns the container to the Thermostat Recycling Corporation in exchange for a new container. The mercury switches are removed from the thermostats and sent to a company that purifies the mercury for reuse. 

This program is designed for wall-mounted mercury thermostats only, and does not include other mercury-containing devices like batteries or fluorescent lamps. It is important that the entire thermostat be returned, since the thermostat housing provides protection for the mercury switch during shipment, helping to prevent breakage during shipment. Thermostats returned under warranty should not be included in the recycling containers.

Why is it important to recycle mercury thermostats?
Hundreds of mercury-containing thermostats are replaced each year. Many of these thermostats are disposed of in the trash. Once sent to a landfill, mercury may leak out of the thermostats and can potentially get into the air and water, thus contaminating ground water, surface water, and drinking water resources. Mercury accumulates through the food chain and can be ingested by humans through consumption of fish caught in contaminated lakes and rivers. 

Mercury has also been shown to have long-lasting health effects. Human exposure to mercury can affect the nervous system, cause kidney and liver damage, impair childhood development, and may cause cancer.

There are more than 3600 TRC collection locations throughout the U.S. At the end of 2010, the Thermostat Recycling Corporation had collected nearly 1.1 million thermostats, and diverted approximately five tons of mercury from landfills nationwide since it began in 1998.

Where can I find more information?
For more details on how to participate and to find a TRC collection point near you, visit the Thermostat Recycling Corporation.

DHHS- Division of Public Health, Environmental Health Unit
Office of Environmental Health Hazards & Indoor Air, Indoor Air Quality Program
P.O. Box 95026, 301 Centennial Mall South- 3rd Floor
Lincoln, Nebraska 68509-5026
General Inquiries: 402-471-1005
Mercury Call Line: 402-326-0231
Toll Free: 888-242-1100, Extension 4 (Nebraska only)

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