Recovering mercury devices from appliances
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Recovering Mercury Devices From Appliances. Developed for MassDEP with support from Alternative Recycling Resources Inc. & Interstate Refrigerant Recovery Inc. Massachusetts Mercury Management Act. Chapter 190 of the Acts of 2006

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Recovering mercury devices from appliances l.jpg

Recovering Mercury Devices From Appliances

Developed for MassDEP with support from Alternative Recycling Resources Inc. & Interstate Refrigerant Recovery Inc.

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Massachusetts Mercury Management Act

  • Chapter 190 of the Acts of 2006

  • Remove all mercury devices from products before scrap recycling or disposal

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What is Mercury?

  • Found in nature

  • Liquid at room temperature

  • Good conductor of electricity

  • Expands & contracts with temperature & pressure

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Why Care About Mercury?

  • Toxic, especially to developing children

  • Can leak from discarded products

  • Emitted from coal-burning facilities

  • Rain carries it into lakes & streams

  • Fish become contaminated

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What is a Mercury Switch or Flame Sensor?

  • Small, sealed switch or ampoule containing a few drops of mercury

  • Made from steel, plastic or glass; shape varies

  • Turns a motor or light on & off, or senses heat from a flame

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Where is the Mercury?

Inside the casing

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What Appliances May Contain Mercury Switches or Sensors?

  • Chest freezers

  • Gas ranges & ovens

  • Commercial water heaters

  • Sump pumps

  • Boilers, furnaces & space heaters

  • Old washing machines

  • Some RV equipment

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Chest Freezer

Electrical wire out of lid

A mark like this (sometimes a sticker) indicates that CFCs have been removed

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Chest Freezer Without Mercury Switches

If a plastic tab or button switch controls the light, there is no mercury switch.

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Chest Freezer

Mercury tilt switch ampoule beneath plastic casing

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Gas RangeWithout Mercury Switches

Light switch

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Electric Range Without Mercury Switches

Button type pressure switch, no mercury

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Mercury Flame Sensor

Remove metal plate

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Mercury Flame Sensor

Remove screws

Disconnect gas line

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Mercury Flame Sensor

Gas lines

Gas safety valve

Capillary tube

Mercury ampoule

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Flame Sensor Removal

Remove screws

Remove screws

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Mercury Flame Sensor

Mercury ampoule

Capillary tube containing mercury vapors, leading to safety valve

Clip attaching ampoule to pilot assembly


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Some Appliances are Marked

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Mercury-Free Ranges

Electronic Ignition Label

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More Mercury Flame Sensors

Capillary tube

Safety valve

Mercury ampoule

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More Mercury Flame Sensors

Capillary tube

Mercury ampoule

Gas safety valve

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More Mercury Flame Sensors

Mercury ampoule

Gas safety valve

Capillary tube

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Washing Machines

Plastic button on the lid to activate switch on machine at the left

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Sump Pump

Mercury-containing float switch

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Other Appliances Containing Mercury

  • Gas furnaces

  • Gas refrigerators, air conditioners, water heaters & dryers

  • Microwave ovens

  • Recreational vehicles

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  • Protect the ground with plastic sheeting

  • Protect yourself with safety gloves & goggles

  • Protect others from using dangerous appliances

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Protect Yourself

  • Safety glasses

  • Work gloves & latex gloves

  • Work boots

  • Respirator w/Hg cartridges (optional)

  • Eye wash & first aid stations or kits

  • Portable mercury spill cleanup kit

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Tools You’ll Need

  • Pry & flat bars

  • Hammer

  • Manual & power screwdrivers (flat & Phillips)

  • 1/4” & 5/16” nut drivers

  • Vise grips

  • Wire cutters & tin snips

  • Wrenches: 3/8” & 11/16”open-end & adjustable

  • Magnet

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Recycle Mercury Components

  • Store until you have enough mercury devices to send for recycling

  • Use only licensed mercury processing facilities

  • Companies with Massachusetts locations:

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  • MassDEP Mercury Home Page

  • Report on Removal of Mercury Devices from Appliances

  • Universal Waste Rule Fact Sheet

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  • Bea Maloof, Alternative Recycling Resources Inc. (ARRI)

    Photos & Consulting

  • Timothy Maloof, Interstate Refrigerant Recovery Inc. (IRRI)

  • Patricia Shea, ARRI

    Additional Thanks

  • Chuck Ransom, IRRI