SEMA eNews Vol. 10, No. 43, October 25, 2007

MERCURY USED IN AUTO SWITCHES SUBJECT TO NEW REGULATION

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will now require at least 90 days advance notice from anybody who intends to manufacture, import or process mercury for use in aftermarket auto products. While the automakers are now using chemical substitutes, mercury is still found in some switches for aftermarket products, such as lighting equipment and antilock braking systems. The mercury can be subsequently released into the environment as the vehicle and its parts are dismantled, recycled and scrapped. The EPA rule applies to elemental mercury in the following uses:

  • Convenience-light switches, such as those in vehicle trunks and interior lights, in new motor vehicles, and in new aftermarket replacement parts
  • Switches in anti-lock brakes in new motor vehicles and in anti-lock brake aftermarket replacement parts in motor vehicles manufactured after January 1, 2003
  • Switches in active ride-control systems in new motor vehicles and in control systems as aftermarket replacement parts for vehicles manufactured after January 1, 2003

Exempt from the rule are switches manufactured as aftermarket replacement parts for anti-lock brake and ride-control systems in vehicles manufactured before January 1, 2003. The EPA said there is no mercury-free alternative for midlife replacement of anti-lock brake and ride-control switches. Details: Stuart Gosswein at stuartg@sema.org.

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