IMERC Fact Sheet
Mercury Use in Measuring Devices
Last Update: January 2010
"Mercury Use in Measuring Devices" summarizes the use of mercury in devices that conduct some form of measurement, including barometers, thermometers, manometers, blood pressure cuffs, and others. This Fact Sheet covers measuring devices that contain mercury; the total amount of mercury in all products that were sold as new in the U.S. in 2001, 2004, and 2007; companies that have phased-out the products' manufacture and sale; and non-mercury alternative devices.
The information in this Fact Sheet is based on data submitted to the state members of the Interstate Mercury Education and Reduction Clearinghouse (IMERC)1 including Connecticut, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont. The data is available online through the IMERC Mercury-Added Products Database.2
A number of important caveats must be considered when reviewing the data summarized in this Fact Sheet:
Types of Mercury Measuring Devices
As the only metal that is liquid at room temperature, mercury expands and contracts evenly with temperature and pressure changes. These characteristics have made mercury useful in devices used for measuring temperature and pressure, including the following:
Table 1 presents the average amount of mercury in each type of measuring device that is still manufactured and sold as new in the U.S. Manufacturers, importers, and distributors of mercury-added products report the amount of mercury used as an exact number or as a range.
Note: 1 gram of mercury = 0.035 ounces.
Mercury Use in Measuring Devices
Table 2 presents the total amount of mercury in measuring devices sold in the U.S. during calendar years 2001, 2004, and 2007.3
* It is important to note that although no mercury-added manometers were sold in the U.S. in 2007, one company continues to manufacture and sell manometer glass tubing without supplying elemental mercury with the product. It is unknown if the persons that purchase this manometer tubing are filling it with elemental mercury or substituting the mercury with another liquid.
Approximately five tons of mercury contained in measuring devices was sold in 2001. This amount decreased by 2.1 tons to 3 tons in 2004, a decline of approximately 41 percent. In 2007, 1.1 tons of mercury contained in measuring devices was sold in the U.S., a decline of approximately 64 percent from 2004. Overall, from 2001 to 2007, mercury use in measuring devices decreased significantly by a total of approximately 4 tons (7,975 pounds), or 78 percent.
Since 2001, many states have passed legislation banning the use and sale of mercury-added thermometers and other measuring devices. As more state laws go into effect, mercury use in this product category will likely continue to decline.
Phase-Outs & Bans on the Sale of Mercury Measuring Devices
The following IMERC-member states currently have restrictions on the sale and/or distribution of mercury-containing thermometers and other measuring devices: California, Connecticut, Illinois, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington. Additional states that restrict the sale of one or more types of mercury-added measuring devices (including mercury fever thermometers) include: Indiana, Michigan, Maryland, Ohio, and Oregon.4
In response to these mercury product bans and phase-outs, many companies have ceased manufacturing mercury containing measuring devices and/or stopped selling these products to these states. The following is a list of companies and measuring device products that have reportedly been eliminated from the U.S. market since 2001:
Princo Instruments, Inc. reported to IMERC-member states that they phased-out the manufacture of their mercury thermometers in 2002. They completed a company-wide phase-out of all products containing mercury, including barometers, manometers, and psychrometers by 2007.
Cooper-Atkins Corp. reported to IMERC-member states that they phased-out the manufacture of their mercury thermometers (e.g., maximum holding thermometers) in July 2003.
Miljoco Corp. reported to IMERC-member states that they phased-out production of their mercury-containing industrial thermometers in 2003.
Motion Pro reported to IMERC-member states that they no longer sell mercury manometers.
Anderson Instruments reported to IMERC-member states that they phased-out the manufacture of their mercury thermometers in January 2006.
Meriam Process Technologies reported to IMERC-member states that they phased-out the manufacturer of their mercury manometers and replacement tubes in 2006.
Brooklyn Thermometer Company reported to IMERC-member states that they went out of business in November 2007. Therefore, their mercury-containing "precision thermometers" are no longer manufactured or sold in the U.S.
Taylor Precision Products reported to IMERC-member states that they phased-out mercury in their consumer thermometers in 2007. They are currently working to replace their high-volume, commercial mercury thermometers with a non-mercury alternative.
Lux Products Corp. reported to the IMERC-member states in 2007 that they have stopped the sale and distribution of their mercury-added products, including their mercury thermometers to all of the IMERC-member states with product phase-outs and sales bans in accordance with the effective dates of such bans.
Luxtel LLC reported to the IMERC-member states that they phased-out the manufacture of their Type I and Type II mercury-added timers (classified in the "other measuring devices" category) in September 2007 and June 2008, respectively.
There are non-mercury alternatives that may be suitable for replacing the traditional mercury-added measuring devices. Many factors should be considered when switching to a non-mercury measuring device, including the relative costs, availability, and product effectiveness.
Table 3 lists the non-mercury alternatives to common measuring devices.
Research indicates that many mercury-added measuring devices, including flow meters, hydrometers, hygrometers, psychrometers, and pyrometers, are no longer manufactured or sold in the U.S. These products are considered "legacy products" as they are no longer manufactured or sold as a new product in commerce in the U.S., but may still be used, re-sold as a used product, or stored in a home or business. For more information on these and other "legacy" measuring devices, go to: www.newmoa.org/prevention/mercury/projects/legacy/measdev.cfm.
For more information about the non-mercury alternatives for measuring devices found in schools, go to: www.newmoa.org/prevention/mercury/schools/MercuryAlternativesReport.pdf.
1 IMERC: http://www.newmoa.org/prevention/mercury/imerc/about.cfm
2 Mercury-Added Products Database: http://www.newmoa.org/prevention/mercury/imerc/notification/
3 The data cited in this report is from a NEWMOA PowerPoint Presentation entitled, Trends in Mercury Use in Products: Analysis of the IMERC Mercury-added Products Database, presented at the "2009 Mercury Science & Policy Conference with a Special Focus on the Great Lakes & Northeast Regions", on November 17, 2009: http://www.newmoa.org/prevention/mercury/conferences/sciandpolicy/presentations/Wienert_Session3B.pdf
4 State Mercury-Added Product Ban & Phase-out Guidance: http://www.newmoa.org/prevention/mercury/imerc/banphaseout.cfm