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IMERC Frequently Asked Questions

IMERC has compiled the following "Frequently Asked Questions" list to help visitors quickly find answers to commonly asked questions. If your question is not addressed below, please contact the IMERC Coordinator at (617) 367-8558 or imerc@newmoa.org.

  1. What is IMERC?
  2. What is a "Mercury-added Product"?
  3. Who needs to provide mercury-added product notification?
  4. Do all IMERC-member states have product notification and labeling requirements?
  5. If a product contains only trace levels of mercury do I need to notify?
  6. Where can I get the notification forms?
  7. What are the deadlines for notification?
  8. How does IMERC use the data I report?
  9. Will the information that I provide to IMERC be managed as Confidential Business Information (CBI)?
  10. Are there any other conditions that require that I submit an updated notification forms?
  11. How should I categorize products for the purposes of the notification form?
  12. I'm still not sure how to categorize my products; can you provide more detail and some examples?
  13. What do the IMERC states mean by "Total Mercury"?
  14. My company sells its products in markets throughout the world. When I calculate total mercury values should they be based on worldwide sales?
  15. If I'm filing for the first time in 2007, should I file total mercury data for calendar year 2006?
  16. Can I provide estimates for mercury content and total mercury for previous reporting years, such as 2001? Exact data for some products and total mercury from earlier reporting years may no longer be available
  17. I purchase a mercury compound from a company and mix it with other chemicals to create a product that my company sells. Should I report the amount of mercury (in parts per million or ppm) in my product or the amount of the mercury compound in my product (in ppm)?
  18. How do I report the number of mercury-added components in my product in Table IV if the products contain a range of these components depending upon the model?
  19. My company makes a product that uses button cell batteries. It appears that only Connecticut and New York require labeling of both the package and the product for these type of products. What do I have to do to comply with the labeling requirements for my products?
  20. I have been told that I cannot sell my product in some states because it contains mercury. How can I find out where the sale of my products are banned and whether I can apply for an exemption?

1. What is IMERC?
The Interstate Mercury Education and Reduction Clearinghouse (IMERC) was established by state environmental officials from Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont in 2001 to help them implement laws and programs aimed at getting mercury out of consumer products, the waste stream, and the environment. IMERC is a program of the Northeast Waste Management Officials' Association (NEWMOA). Additional states have since joined IMERC; current membership stands at 15 states with California, Illinois, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, and Washington added to the original member states.

Since its inception IMERC has provided:

  • Ongoing technical and programmatic assistance to states that have enacted mercury education and reduction legislation
  • A single point of contact for industry and the public for information on mercury-added products and member states' mercury education and reduction programs
NEWMOA's staff provides logistical, facilitation, and technical support for the activities of IMERC.

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2. What is a "Mercury-added Product"?
A mercury-added product is any formulated or fabricated product that contains mercury, a mercury compound, or a component containing mercury, when the mercury is intentionally added to the product (or component) for any reason. A fabricated mercury-added product is a combination of individual components, one or more of which has mercury added, that combine to make a single unit. A formulated mercury-added product is a chemical product, including but not limited to laboratory chemicals, cleaning products, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, and coating materials that are sold as a consistent mixture of chemicals. Biological products, prescription drugs, and over-the-counter drugs regulated by the United States Food and Drug Administration are not included under these requirements.

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3. Who Needs to Provide Mercury-added Product Notification?
Anyone who offers to sell, sells, or distributes a mercury-added product in a state that requires notification is required to complete a Notification Form and submit it to the Interstate Mercury Education and Reduction Clearinghouse (IMERC) via the e-filing system. Connecticut, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina (automobiles only), Rhode Island, and Vermont require notification.

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4. Do all IMERC-member States Have Product Notification and Labeling Requirements?
The regulatory environment for mercury-added products has become complex and is dynamic. However, IMERC maintains compliance guidance and state contact information on its website.

The states that currently require product notification include Connecticut, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina (automobiles only), Rhode Island, and Vermont. Notification forms can be submitted through the IMERC e-filing system.

The states that require product labeling include California (food products only), Connecticut, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington. There are differences in the products covered by these states' labeling laws and the requirements for implementing product labeling.

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5. If a Product Contains Only Trace Levels of Mercury Do I Need to Notify?
There is no de minimis level of mercury in the definition of a mercury-added product. The critical question for compliance with IMERC-member state requirements is whether the mercury is intentionally added to the product. This is a critical difference between states' regulations in the U.S. and the regulations established by the European Union.

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6. Where Can I Get the Notification Forms?
Access to the online Notification system and instructions for completing the e-filing submission is available online at: www.newmoa.org/prevention/mercury/imerc/efiling.cfm.

For reference, hard-copy versions of the forms are available at: www.newmoa.org/prevention/mercury/imerc/notificationforms.cfm.  These forms may be useful when determining the data users need to gather prior to entering the online system and completing their submission.

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7. What are the Deadlines for Notification?
Companies must provide a complete update of their Notification Form, including product information and total mercury use based on U.S. sales of mercury-added products at least once every three years. The first year for Notification reporting was calendar year 2001; the Notification Forms must be submitted by April 1st of the following year; therefore the 2001 Notification Form was due by April 1, 2002. The triennial notification schedule is shown in the table below:
Reporting Year Notification Deadline
2001 April 1, 2002
2004 April 1, 2005
2007 April 1, 2008
2010 October 1, 2011
2013 April 15, 2014
2016 April 1, 2017

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8. How Does IMERC Use the Notification Data?
IMERC uses the data in several ways - we make it public through our website so that others can use it; we analyze the data to understand the mercury use in various product categories; and we conduct trend analysis to understand patterns in mercury use in various types of products over time. These efforts enable us to assess whether mercury reduction efforts are having an impact and whether further action is required in the future. The data is also useful for understanding which products make the largest contribution of mercury to the waste stream so that the states and others can focus their collection and recycling efforts and other initiatives.

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9. Will the Information That I Provide to IMERC be Managed as Confidential Business Information (CBI)?
Information submitted through IMERC is not confidential. You have the option of reporting the mercury content of your products using a range rather than an exact amount; this makes it more difficult to obtain precise information about product formulation and total sales based on data provided on the Notification Form.

If your company wishes to maintain its information as CBI, you should not submit your Notification Form through IMERC. For CBI you must submit a hard copy IMERC Notification Form and a written request for CBI treatment directly to each state agency. The states' standards for granting CBI are high, and there is no assurance that it will be granted.

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10. Are There Any Other Conditions that Require that I Submit an Updated Notification?
Yes, in between triennial notifications mercury-added product manufacturers and their representatives must submit an updated Mercury-added Product Notification if:

  • There is a change in any of the information previously submitted (e.g., an increase or decrease in the amount of mercury in the product)
  • Mercury is no longer used in the product
  • The mercury-added product or product category is no longer manufactured
  • The mercury-added product or product category is no longer sold in the states requiring notification; and/or
  • New mercury-added products are being manufactured and offered for sale.
To avoid numerous updates in a single year, IMERC has created a special annual update for automobile manufacturers that they are asked to file by September 1st of each year.

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11. How Should I Categorize Products for the Purposes of the Notification Form?
You are encouraged to provide Notification using product categories, rather than providing reporting based on individual names or model numbers for every variation of a single type of product. In general, products should be categorized using the following criteria - the products are similar in function, technology, and purpose and their mercury content fits within a single specified range.

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12. I'm Still Not Sure how to Categorize my Products; Can you Provide More Detail and Some Examples?
The following provides detailed instructions on categorizing mercury-added products. Two or more mercury-added products may be reported as a single category if:

  1. All products included in the category are similar products and have the same consumer or commercial use;

  2. All products included in the category include mercury for the same purpose and, if applicable, have the same mercury-added component(s); and

  3. (A) For fabricated products with mercury added or with ONE similar mercury-added component, all products included in the category contain an amount of mercury, per component, that on average falls within one of the following ranges:
    • Greater than 0 but less than or equal to 5 milligrams (mg);
    • Greater than 5 mg but less than or equal to 10 mg;
    • Greater than 10 mg but less than or equal to 50 mg;
    • Greater than 50 mg but less than or equal to 100 mg;
    • Greater than 100 mg but less than or equal to 1000 mg; or
    • Greater than 1000 mg.

    For example, company X sells three mercury-added digital thermometers: an under arm thermometer, a rectal thermometer, and an oral thermometer. Each thermometer uses one button cell battery and has no other mercury-added components. The button cell batteries contain 2.0, 1.8, and 2.5 milligrams of mercury for the under arm, rectal, and oral thermometers, respectively. All of these button cell batteries fit into the >0-5 mg range of mercury. Company X may group these thermometers into a product category called "digital thermometers" because they all serve similar purposes and contain similar mercury-added components with mercury contents within the same range.

    OR

    (B) For fabricated products with MULTIPLE mercury-added components, product categories are defined based on the components in the larger products. All products included in a product category must contain the same type/s of components (e.g., lamp, switch, relay, battery, etc.). In addition, for each type of component, the amount of mercury per component must fall on average within one of the following ranges:
    • Greater than 0 but less than or equal to 5 milligrams (mg);
    • Greater than 5 mg but less than or equal to 10 mg;
    • Greater than 10 mg but less than or equal to 50 mg;
    • Greater than 50 mg but less than or equal to 100 mg;
    • Greater than 100 mg but less than or equal to 1000 mg; or
    • Greater than 1000 mg.


    The following provides two examples to help illustrate how these instructions apply to mercury-added products with multiple components:

    Example: Company Z makes flat panel liquid crystal display (LCD) televisions (TVs) in seven different sizes: 13, 15, 17, 19, 28, 36, and 43 inches. The 13- and 15-inch TVs include one mercury-added lamp that contains 2 to 3 milligrams of mercury (which fits into the >0-5 mg range). The 17- and 19-inch TVs use 2 lamps, each containing 6-9 milligrams of mercury (which fits into the >5-10 mg range), and the 28-, 36- and 43-inch TVs use 3 to 6 lamps, each containing 6-9 milligrams of mercury (which also fits into the >5-10 mg range.) The following Table illustrates how to categorize these TVs for Company Z.

    (1) Product or Category of Products that YOU Manufacture, Distribute, or Import (2) Description and Location of Mercury-Added Components Contained in Product (if applicable); List Each Component Separately (3) Number of Each Component in One Unit of Larger Product

    (if applicable)
    (4) Amount of Mercury in Each Component in Milligrams (mg) (5) How Amount of Mercury is Reported

    (R, E)
    Small screen flat panel LCD display TVs (15 inches and smaller) Lamp 1 >0-5 mg R
    Large screen flat panel LCD display TVs (17-43 inches) Lamp 2-6 >5-10 mg R

    Even though the televisions (TV) in the second product category contain a varying number of lamps, the range for mercury content is the same for each lamp, so it is acceptable to group the TVs together, as long as company Z provides the range of lamps per TV product category.

    In summary: The criteria for categorizing products with multiple components is that the larger products must all have the same components, and all "like" components must have the same amount of mercury.

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13. What Do the IMERC States Mean by "Total Mercury"?
Total mercury is a point estimate that is calculated by multiplying the amount of mercury in each product or component by the number of units sold in the United States; the result should be reported in grams of mercury. If you report a range for the amount of mercury in each product or component, you should use your best estimate of the actual mercury content in calculating the total mercury value. Total mercury presented as a range is not accepted.

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14. My Company Sells its Products in Markets Throughout the World. When I Calculate Total Mercury Values Should They be Based on Worldwide Sales?
No, the calculation of total mercury should be based on U.S. sales only.

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15. If I'm Filing for the First Time in 2013, Should I File Total Mercury Data for Previous Calendar Years?
The new e-filing system has been developed to walk first-time notifiers through the series of forms they need to file, based on when they started distributing mercury-added products into the IMERC-member states that require notification. If your company manufactured and sold mercury-added products into any of the Notification states in the triennial reporting years (i.e., 2001, 2004, 2007, 2010, and 2013), you need to report data for those years, starting with the earliest.  If this legacy data is not available, you should submit in writing an explanation of why you cannot account for these previous years and start with the year for which you have complete data.

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16. Can I Provide Estimates for Mercury Content and Total Mercury for Previous Reporting Years, Such as 2001? Exact Data for Some Products and Total Mercury from Earlier Reporting Years May no Longer be Available.
Yes, you can base your data on sound engineering estimates. You have the option of reporting mercury content for the individual product categories in current or previous reporting years as a range or as an exact value. If this legacy data is not available, you should submit in writing an explanation of why you cannot account for these previous years and start with the year for which you have complete data.

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17. I Purchase a Mercury Compound from a Company and Mix it with Other Chemicals to Create a Product that my Company Sells. Should I Report the Amount of Mercury (in parts per million or ppm) in my Product or the Amount of the Mercury Compound in my Product (in ppm)?
You should calculate and report the concentration of mercury in the final product that you sell.

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18. How do I Report the Number of Mercury-added Components in my Product in Table IV if the Products Contain a Range of These Components Depending upon the Model?
For a fabricated product that contains multiple mercury-added components, indicate how many of each component is found in one unit of the larger fabricated product (e.g., 3 button cell batteries in one toy). If the product can include a range in the number of components, indicate this range (e.g., 1 to 12 lamps in a commercial refrigerator).

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19. My Company Makes a Product that Uses Button Cell Batteries. It Appears That Only Connecticut and New York Require Labeling of Both the Package and the Product for These Type of Products. What Do I Have to Do To Comply with the Labeling Requirements for my Products?
The states of Connecticut and New York require that products with button cell batteries have labels on the product and its packaging indicating that the products contain mercury or a mercury-added component. There are specifications that these labels need to meet.

The other states that require product labeling include California (food products only), Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.

There are differences in the types of mercury-added products covered by all the various state laws and the requirements for implementing product labeling. Check out IMERC's website for guidance on all of the mercury-added product labeling requirements.

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20. I Have Been Told That I Cannot Sell my Product in Some States Because it Contains Mercury. How Can I Find Out Where the Sale of my Products Are Banned and Whether I Can Apply for an Exemption?
Certain states ban the sale of mercury-added fever thermometers and other types of thermometers, thermostats, automotive switches, manometers, switches and relays, various instruments and measuring devices, and mercury-added novelties. California, Connecticut, Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington all have some type of mercury-added product sales ban in place.

Mercury-added Product Phase-outs may also apply to the products your company makes and/or distributes. The difference between a mercury-added product sales ban and a mercury-added product sales phase-out is that some exemptions are allowed under a product phase-out. California, Connecticut, Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Maine, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington have product phase-out requirements. However, each state has specific requirements regarding the products being phased-out. Phase-out Exemption Applications can be submitted to the participating states through IMERC; Connecticut, Illinois, and Rhode Island also require an original copy of the Phase-out Exemption Application. Additionally, Rhode Island requires that the Phase-out Exemption Application be notarized and requires payment of a fee.

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Last Modified 12/18/2014

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