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12/23/13 - Cuomo Signs Law Mandating Collection of Mercury-filled Thermostats

Thanks in part to $220,000 in grants from The New York Community Trust, the Multi-State Mercury Products Campaign helped get a bill signed into law on Dec. 18, 2013. The mandate requires makers of mercury-containing thermostats to collect and safely dispose of them.

“Since our first grant in 2005, the Multi-State Mercury Products Campaign has made steady progress getting more states to eliminate the market for products containing mercury,” says Pat Jenny, vice president for grants at The New York Community Trust. “This law takes the crucial next step: collecting the products that are out there when they come to the end of their useful life.”

Mercury, which is especially dangerous to pregnant women and children, can cause retardation, deafness, and blindness in children, kidney failure, and death. When mixed with regular trash, which is often burned or buried, it can end up in our drinking water and the air we breathe.

The legislation requires thermostat manufacturers to collect 15,500 thermostats in 2015, and requires the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to establish annual collection goals thereafter.  This measure will put New York in line with other states that have adopted strong mercury thermostat collection laws. 

While thermostats containing mercury are no longer sold in New York, they pose a serious environmental threat when they are disposed of improperly. Each year more than a ton of mercury ends up in New York’s landfills and waste combustion facilities from improperly discarded mercury thermostats. This legislation will help create a healthier environment throughout New York State, and reduce potentially harmful mercury impacts on our air, land, and water.



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