A ban on the sale of many products containing mercury takes effect in Wisconsin today.
The new law applies to a wide variety of products, such as thermometers, measuring devices, and thermostats. Sue Bangert with the Department of Natural Resources says several household items are also included, such as toys, jewelry, and make-up.
The goal of the ban is to keep mercury from making its way in to Wisconsin landfills. The DNR estimates up to 6,000 pounds of mercury is thrown away each year, which can effect air and water quality if it leaks into the environment.
The ban does not apply to products already in use, but schools will be required to replace many devices containing free-flowing mercury by 2012.
Lighting devices containing mercury are exempt, such as compact fluorescent light bulbs. Bangert says lawmakers recognized the energy saving benefits of those devices, and notes that many recycling programs exist specifically for them.
Bangert says most of the banned products have mercury-free alternatives available. Businesses and manufacturers can appeal the ban to the DNR if a cost-effective mercury-free option is not available.
Wisconsin is the 16th state to enact a ban on sales of many devices containing mercury.