Chapter 70.95M RCW

MERCURY

Sections

70.95M.010Definitions.
70.95M.020Fluorescent lampsLabeling requirements.
70.95M.030Mercury disposal education plan.
70.95M.040SchoolsPurchase of mercury prohibited.
70.95M.050Prohibited salesNovelties, manometers, thermometers, thermostats, motor vehicles, bulk mercury.
70.95M.060RulesProduct preference.
70.95M.070ClearinghouseDepartment participation.
70.95M.080Penalties.
70.95M.090CrematoriesNonapplicability of chapter.
70.95M.100Prescription drugs and devices, biological products, over-the-counter itemsNonapplicability of chapter.
70.95M.110Medical equipment, research testsNonapplicability of chapter.
70.95M.115Vaccines.
70.95M.120Fiscal impactModel toxics control operating account.
70.95M.130National mercury repository site.
70.95M.140Requirement to recycle end-of-life mercury-containing lights.


Definitions.

The definitions in this section apply throughout this chapter unless the context clearly requires otherwise.
(1) "Bulk mercury" includes any elemental, nonamalgamated mercury, regardless of volume quantity or weight and does not include mercury-added products as defined in this section or products containing mercury collected for recycling or disposal at a permitted disposal facility.
(2) "Department" means the department of ecology.
(3) "Director" means the director of the department of ecology.
(4) "Health care facility" includes a hospital, nursing home, extended care facility, long-term care facility, clinical or medical laboratory, state or private health or mental institution, clinic, physician's office, or health maintenance organization.
(5) "Manufacturer" includes any person, firm, association, partnership, corporation, governmental entity, organization, or joint venture that produces a mercury-added product or an importer or domestic distributor of a mercury-added product produced in a foreign country. In the case of a multicomponent product containing mercury, the manufacturer is the last manufacturer to produce or assemble the product. If the multicomponent product or mercury-added product is produced in a foreign country, the manufacturer is the first importer or domestic distributor.
(6) "Mercury-added button-cell battery" means a button-cell battery to which the manufacturer intentionally introduces mercury for the operation of the battery.
(7) "Mercury-added novelty" means a mercury-added product intended mainly for personal or household enjoyment or adornment. Mercury-added novelties include, but are not limited to, items intended for use as practical jokes, figurines, adornments, toys, games, cards, ornaments, yard statues and figures, candles, jewelry, holiday decorations, items of apparel, and other similar products. Mercury-added novelty does not include games, toys, or products that require a button-cell or lithium battery, liquid crystal display screens, or a lamp that contains mercury.
(8) "Mercury-added product" means a product, commodity, or chemical, or a product with a component that contains mercury or a mercury compound intentionally added to the product, commodity, or chemical in order to provide a specific characteristic, appearance, or quality, or to perform a specific function, or for any other reason. Mercury-added products include those products listed in the interstate mercury education and reduction clearinghouse mercury-added products database, but are not limited to, mercury thermometers, mercury thermostats, mercury barometers, lamps, and mercury switches or relays.
(9) "Mercury manometer" means a mercury-added product that is used for measuring blood pressure.
(10) "Mercury thermometer" means a mercury-added product that is used for measuring temperature.
(11) "Retailer" means a retailer of a mercury-added product.
(12) "Switch" means any device, which may be referred to as a switch, sensor, valve, probe, control, transponder, or any other apparatus, that directly regulates or controls the flow of electricity, gas, or other compounds, such as relays or transponders. "Switch" includes all components of the unit necessary to perform its flow control function. "Automotive mercury switch" includes a convenience switch, such as a switch for a trunk or hood light, and a mercury switch in antilock brake systems. "Utility switch" includes, but is not limited to, all devices that open or close an electrical circuit, or a liquid or gas valve. "Utility relay" includes, but is not limited to, all products or devices that open or close electrical contacts to control the operation of other devices in the same or other electrical circuit.
(13) "Wholesaler" means a wholesaler of a mercury-added product.

NOTES:

Severability2010 c 130: See RCW 70.275.901.



Fluorescent lampsLabeling requirements.

(1) Effective January 1, 2004, a manufacturer, wholesaler, or retailer may not knowingly sell at retail a fluorescent lamp if the fluorescent lamp contains mercury and was manufactured after November 30, 2003, unless the fluorescent lamp is labeled in accordance with the guidelines listed under subsection (2) of this section. Primary responsibility for affixing labels required under this section is on the manufacturer, and not on the wholesaler or retailer.
(2) Except as provided in subsection (3) of this section, a lamp is considered labeled pursuant to subsection (1) of this section if the lamp has all of the following:
(a) A label affixed to the lamp that displays the internationally recognized symbol for the element mercury; and
(b) A label on the lamp's packaging that: (i) Clearly informs the purchaser that mercury is present in the item; (ii) explains that the fluorescent lamp should be disposed of according to applicable federal, state, and local laws; and (iii) provides a toll-free telephone number, and a uniform resource locator internet address to a web site, that contains information on applicable disposal laws.
(3) The manufacturer of a mercury-added lamp is in compliance with the requirements of this section if the manufacturer is in compliance with the labeling requirements of another state.
(4) The provisions of this section do not apply to products containing mercury-added lamps.



Mercury disposal education plan.

The department of health must develop an educational plan for schools, local governments, businesses, and the public on the proper disposal methods for mercury and mercury-added products.



SchoolsPurchase of mercury prohibited.

A school may not purchase for use in a primary or secondary classroom bulk elemental mercury or chemical mercury compounds. By January 1, 2006, all primary and secondary schools in the state must remove and properly dispose of all bulk elemental mercury, chemical mercury, and bulk mercury compounds used as teaching aids in science classrooms, not including barometers.



Prohibited salesNovelties, manometers, thermometers, thermostats, motor vehicles, bulk mercury.

(1) Effective January 1, 2006, no person may sell, offer for sale, or distribute for sale or use in this state a mercury-added novelty. A manufacturer of mercury-added novelties must notify all retailers that sell the product about the provisions of this section and how to properly dispose of any remaining mercury-added novelty inventory.
(2)(a) Effective January 1, 2006, no person may sell, offer for sale, or distribute for sale or use in this state a manometer used to measure blood pressure or a thermometer that contains mercury. This subsection (2)(a) does not apply to:
(i) An electronic thermometer with a button-cell battery containing mercury;
(ii) A thermometer that contains mercury and that is used for food research and development or food processing, including meat, dairy products, and pet food processing;
(iii) A thermometer that contains mercury and that is a component of an animal agriculture climate control system or industrial measurement system or for veterinary medicine until such a time as the system is replaced or a nonmercury component for the system or application is available;
(iv) A thermometer or manometer that contains mercury that is used for calibration of other thermometers, manometers, apparatus, or equipment, unless a nonmercury calibration standard is approved for the application by the national institute of standards and technology;
(v) A thermometer that is provided by prescription. A manufacturer of a mercury thermometer shall supply clear instructions on the careful handling of the thermometer to avoid breakage and proper cleanup should a breakage occur; or
(vi) A manometer or thermometer sold or distributed to a hospital, or a health care facility controlled by a hospital, if the hospital has adopted a plan for mercury reduction consistent with the goals of the mercury chemical action plan developed by the department under section 302, chapter 371, Laws of 2002.
(b) A manufacturer of thermometers that contain mercury must notify all retailers that sell the product about the provisions of this section and how to properly dispose of any remaining thermometer inventory.
(3) Effective January 1, 2006, no person may sell, install, or reinstall a commercial or residential thermostat that contains mercury unless the manufacturer of the thermostat conducts or participates in a thermostat recovery or recycling program designed to assist contractors in the proper disposal of thermostats that contain mercury in accordance with 42 U.S.C. Sec. 6901, et seq., the federal resource conservation and recovery act.
(4) No person may sell, offer for sale, or distribute for sale or use in this state a motor vehicle manufactured after January 1, 2006, if the motor vehicle contains an automotive mercury switch.
(5) Nothing in this section restricts the ability of a manufacturer, importer, or domestic distributor from transporting products through the state, or storing products in the state for later distribution outside the state.
(6) Effective June 30, 2012, the sale or purchase and delivery of bulk mercury is prohibited, including sales through the internet or sales by private parties. However, the prohibition in this subsection does not apply to immediate dangerous waste recycling facilities or treatment, storage, and disposal facilities as approved by the department and sales to research facilities, or industrial facilities that provide products or services to entities exempted from this chapter.

NOTES:

Severability2010 c 130: See RCW 70.275.901.



RulesProduct preference.

(1) The *department of general administration must, by January 1, 2005, revise its rules, policies, and guidelines to implement the purpose of this chapter.
(2) The department of enterprise services must give priority and preference to the purchase of equipment, supplies, and other products that contain no mercury-added compounds or components, unless: (a) There is no economically feasible nonmercury-added alternative that performs a similar function; or (b) the product containing mercury is designed to reduce electricity consumption by at least forty percent and there is no nonmercury or lower mercury alternative available that saves the same or a greater amount of electricity as the exempted product. In circumstances where a nonmercury-added product is not available, preference must be given to the purchase of products that contain the least amount of mercury added to the product necessary for the required performance.

NOTES:

*Reviser's note: The "department of general administration" was renamed the "department of enterprise services" by 2011 1st sp.s. c 43 § 107.



ClearinghouseDepartment participation.

The department is authorized to participate in a regional or multistate clearinghouse to assist in carrying out any of the requirements of this chapter. A clearinghouse may also be used for examining notification and label requirements, developing education and outreach activities, and maintaining a list of all mercury-added products.



Penalties.

A violation of this chapter is punishable by a civil penalty not to exceed one thousand dollars for each violation in the case of a first violation. Repeat violators are liable for a civil penalty not to exceed five thousand dollars for each repeat violation. Penalties collected under this section must be deposited in the model toxics control operating account created in RCW 70.105D.190.

NOTES:

Effective dateIntent2019 c 422: See notes following RCW 82.21.010.



CrematoriesNonapplicability of chapter. (Effective until May 1, 2020.)

Nothing in this chapter applies to crematories as that term is defined in RCW 68.04.070.

CrematoriesNonapplicability of chapter. (Effective May 1, 2020.)

Nothing in this chapter applies to crematories as defined in RCW 68.04.070, alkaline hydrolysis, or natural organic reduction facilities as defined in RCW 68.04.320.

NOTES:

Effective date2019 c 432: See note following RCW 68.05.175.



Prescription drugs and devices, biological products, over-the-counter itemsNonapplicability of chapter.

Nothing in this chapter applies to prescription drugs and devices regulated by the food and drug administration under the federal food, drug, and cosmetic act (21 U.S.C. Sec. 301 et seq.), to biological products regulated by the food and drug administration under the public health service act (42 U.S.C. Sec. 262 et seq.), or to any substance that may be lawfully sold over-the-counter without a prescription under the federal food, drug, and cosmetic act (21 U.S.C. Sec. 301 et seq.).



Medical equipment, research testsNonapplicability of chapter.

Nothing in RCW 70.95M.020, 70.95M.050 (1), (3), or (4), or 70.95M.060 applies to medical equipment or reagents used in medical or research tests regulated by the food and drug administration under the federal food, drug, and cosmetic act (21 U.S.C. Sec. 301 et seq.).



Vaccines.

(1) Beginning July 1, 2007, a person who is known to be pregnant or who is under three years of age shall not be vaccinated with a mercury-containing vaccine or injected with a mercury-containing product that contains more than 0.5 micrograms of mercury per 0.5 milliliter dose.
(2) Notwithstanding subsection (1) of this section, an influenza vaccine may contain up to 1.0 micrograms of mercury per 0.5 milliliter dose.
(3) The secretary of the department of health may, upon the secretary's or local public health officer's declaration of an outbreak of vaccine-preventable disease or of a shortage of vaccine that complies with subsection (1) or (2) of this section, suspend the requirements of this section for the duration of the outbreak or shortage. A person who is known to be pregnant or lactating or a parent or legal guardian of a child under eighteen years of age shall be informed if the person or child is to be vaccinated or injected with any mercury-containing product that contains more than the mercury limits per dose in subsections (1) and (2) of this section.
(4) All vaccines and products referenced under this section must meet food and drug administration licensing requirements.

NOTES:

Findings2006 c 231: "The legislature finds that vaccinations and immunizations are among the most important public health innovations of the last one hundred years. The centers for disease control and prevention placed vaccinations at the top of its list of the ten greatest public health achievements of the twentieth century. In its efforts to improve public health in the world's poorest countries, the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation has identified childhood immunization as a cost-effective method of improving public health and saving the lives of millions of children around the world.
Fortunately, in Washington, safe and cost-effective vaccinations against childhood diseases are widely available through both public and private resources. The vaccines that the Washington state department of health provides to meet the requirements for the recommended childhood vaccination schedule through its universal childhood vaccine program are screened for thimerosal and preference is given toward the purchase of thimerosal-free products. The department of health currently provides thimerosal-free products for all routinely recommended childhood vaccines. Regardless of the absence of thimerosal in childhood vaccines in Washington, scientifically reputable organizations such as the centers for disease control and prevention, the national institute of medicine, the American academy of pediatrics, the food and drug administration, and the world health organization have all determined that there is no credible evidence that the use of thimerosal in vaccines poses a threat to the health and safety of children.
Notwithstanding these assurances of the safety of the vaccine supply, the legislature finds that where there is public concern over the safety of vaccines, vaccination rates may be reduced to the point that deadly, vaccine-preventable, childhood diseases return. This measure is being enacted to maintain public confidence in vaccine programs, so that the public will continue to seek vaccinations and their health benefits may continue to protect the people of Washington." [ 2006 c 231 § 1.]



Fiscal impactModel toxics control operating account.

Any fiscal impact on the department or the department of health that results from the implementation of this chapter must be paid for out of funds that are appropriated by the legislature from the model toxics control operating account for the implementation of the department's persistent bioaccumulative toxic chemical strategy.

NOTES:

Effective dateIntent2019 c 422: See notes following RCW 82.21.010.



National mercury repository site.

The department of ecology shall petition the United States environmental protection agency requesting development of a national mercury repository site.



Requirement to recycle end-of-life mercury-containing lights. (Effective July 1, 2026, subject to the recodification contingency in 2014 c 119 § 10.)

Effective January 1, 2013:
(1) All persons, residents, government, commercial, industrial, and retail facilities and office buildings must recycle their end-of-life mercury-containing lights.
(2) No mercury-containing lights may knowingly be placed in waste containers for disposal at incinerators, waste to energy facilities, or landfills.
(3) No mercury-containing lights may knowingly be placed in a container for mixed recyclables unless there is a separate location or compartment for the mercury-containing lights that complies with local government collection standards or guidelines.
(4) No owner or operator of a solid waste facility may be found in violation of this section if the facility has posted in a conspicuous location a sign stating that mercury-containing lights must be recycled and are not accepted for disposal.
(5) No solid waste collector may be found in violation of this section for mercury-containing lights placed in a disposal container by the generator of the mercury-containing light.
[ 2010 c 130 § 8. Formerly RCW 70.275.080.]