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One Millionth Mercury Auto Switch Collection Milestone Reached at Pull-A-Part in Conley, Ga

Release Date: 02/29/2008
Contact Information: Laura Niles, (404) 562-8353, niles.laura@epa.gov

(Atlanta, Ga. – February 29, 2008) U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Stephen L. Johnson congratulated participants in the National Vehicle Mercury Switch Recovery Program (NVMSRP) for their collaborative work in collecting the one millionth mercury auto switch today at Pull-A-Part in Conley, Ga. This milestone highlights the NVMSRP partnership's progress toward reducing the amount of toxic mercury released into the air, water and land from scrap vehicles before they are flattened, shredded and melted to make new steel.

“By pulling mercury switches before they enter the recycling system, we are improving the health of our environment and the health of generations of U.S. residents,” said EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson. “The one millionth switch may be just another drop in a bucket, but it’s a big step toward erasing the environmental impacts of mercury air emissions in America.”

The Pull-A-Part used auto parts facility in Conley, Ga., provides metropolitan areas with an environmentally responsible way to manage scrap vehicles. Pull-A-Part-Conley recently joined the EPA National Environmental Performance Track Program and is also a member of the EPA National Partnership for Environmental Priorities.

Before model year 2003, some vehicles contained mercury switches for convenience lighting in hoods, trunks and some anti-lock breaking systems. The goal of the NVMSRP is to capture 80 to 90 percent of available vehicle mercury switches by 2017, when most pre-2003 vehicles are expected to be off the road and the program is scheduled to end. EPA estimates that about 8 tons per year of mercury are emitted from electric arc furnaces that melt scrap metal from retired cars. The NVMSRP began in 2006 and is a collaboration between EPA, states, automakers, auto dismantlers, auto scrap recyclers, steelmakers and environmental groups.

Vehicles are the most recycled consumer goods in America. Each year, the steel industry recycles more than 14 million tons of steel from old vehicles. If mercury switches are not removed from retired vehicles, a significant amount of that mercury can be released into the environment as air emissions. These air emissions are considered a primary source of mercury that poses a risk to human health and the environment.

Mercury automotive switch removal is an easy, cost effective and energy efficient way to reduce emissions. Dismantlers can find and remove most switches in a few minutes. Doing so costs far less per pound of mercury than emission controls, and supports many industries that produce and use scrap metal. Removal also conserves energy and natural resources by promoting automotive steel recycling while reducing mercury contamination.

Information on the mercury switch program and directions on how to join: http://www.epa.gov/mercury/switch.htm and http://www.elvsolutions.org/.

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