Vermont law requires manufacturers of mercury-added products to comply with certain regulations before they can offer their new products for sale. All manufacturer regulations are coordinated through the Interstate Mercury Education and Reduction Clearinghouse (IMERC). 10 V.S.A. Chapter 164: Comprehensive Mercury Management contains the following provisions relating to manufacturers of mercury-added products.
What is a mercury-added product?
§7102 (9) "Mercury-added product" means a product, a commodity, a chemical, a product with one or more components, or a product that cannot function without the use of that component, that contains mercury or a mercury compound intentionally added to the product, commodity, chemical, or component in order to provide a specific characteristic, appearance, or quality, or to perform a specific function, or for any other reason. These products include formulated mercury-added products and fabricated mercury-added products.
In Vermont law, this includes most mercury-added products except for those specifically regulated by Federal law (see exclusions for specific products under labeling and notification).
Who is a manufacturer?
§7102 (6)(A) "Manufacturer" means any person, firm, association, partnership, corporation, governmental entity, organization, combination, or joint venture that (i) produces a mercury-added product, or (ii) serves as an importer or domestic distributor of a mercury-added product produced outside the United States.
(B) This definition shall not apply to retailers for whom importing is not their primary business.
(C) In the case of a multi-component mercury-added product, the manufacturer is the last manufacturer to produce or assemble the product.
(D) In the case of mercury-containing thermostats, the manufacturer is the original equipment manufacturer.
Who is IMERC?
The Interstate Mercury Education and Reduction Clearinghouse (IMERC) provides ongoing technical and programmatic assistance to states that have Mercury Legislation, and provides a single point of contact for industry and the public for information on mercury-containing products and member states' mercury education and reduction programs.
Labeling of Mercury Products
Vermont’s labeling requirement applies to all mercury products except button cell batteries and products that contain button cell batteries.
Any product, a commodity, a chemical, a product with one or more components, or a product that cannot function without the use of that component, that contains mercury or a mercury compound intentionally added to the product, commodity, chemical, or component in order to provide a specific characteristic, appearance, or quality, or to perform a specific function, or for any other reason cannot be sold into the State of Vermont without labeling.
What are the "Standard Labeling" requirements for mercury-added products?
Labeling requirements generally mandate that a mercury-added product has a visible and durable label that indicates that it contains mercury and should be managed or disposed of properly. The states also require that the product packaging bear a label that is visible prior to purchase indicating that it contains mercury and should be managed or disposed of properly. A standard label is one that meets all the following specifications:
- Is visible to the product user;
- Is printed in English using 10 point font or larger;
- Is mounted, engraved, molded, embossed, or otherwise affixed to the product using materials that are sufficiently durable to remain legible throughout the life of the product;
- Bears the wording "contains mercury";
- States that the product cannot be placed in trash and must be recycled or disposed of as a hazardous waste (e.g., "dispose according to local, state, or federal laws," "do not place in trash, dispose as a hazardous waste" or some equivalent wording or symbol);
- If the product incorporates a mercury-added component that is not visibly labeled in accordance with this standard, the label on the larger product must clearly identify the internal component (e.g., "the lamp in this product contains mercury");
- If the product is sold in packaging that obscures the label, the packaging also must be labeled as described above;
- If the product is offered for sale by catalog, telephone, or internet such that the label on the product or packaging is not visible at the time of purchase, the consumer must be made aware prior- to-purchase that there is intentionally-added mercury in the product by placing a label or other information provided in sales literature, webpages, etc.
What package labeling is required?
- Labeling on all mercury-added product packaging, except when the product either has no package or is not packaged in a conventional type of packaging (where a label cannot be affixed such as shrink wrap, crated or loaded on pallets);
- Labeling on a replacement part package, if a component replacement part is sold as an individual item to end-use consumers; and
- Labeling on a package when a manufacturer purchases a product from another manufacturer and repackages the product to identify the product with their specific company name. The manufacturer repackaging the product is responsible to label the package.
What is the minimum labeling required on a product?
Any mercury-added product that includes the following three pieces of information on the product label meets the minimum “standard” labeling requirements for Vermont and all IMERC-member states.
- Text that states “contains mercury” (in 10 pt. font)
- Hg in a circle symbol
- Crossed out wheelie bin or other such words that indicate that the product cannot be placed in the regular trash.
Are there product specific labeling guidelines?
- Large appliances
- Motor vehicles
- Products that contain one or more non-replaceable mercury-added lamps
What if a manufacturer cannot meet the minimum labeling requirements?
If the characteristics of the product (such as size or temperature) do not allow for standard labeling (the full message in 10 point font) or if placing the label directly on the product interferes with the function of a product, a manufacturer may apply for an alternative method for labeling the product. (See 10 V.S.A. §7106h)
A manufacturer may apply through for an alternative to the requirements of the standard labeling law where:
- Strict compliance with the requirements is not technically feasible as determined by the IMERC-member states;
- The proposed alternative would be at least as effective in providing presale notification of mercury content and instructions on proper disposal; and/or
- Federal law governs labeling in a manner that preempts the state authority.
Submit applications for alternative labeling to the Interstate Mercury Education and Reduction Clearinghouse (IMERC). IMERC will facilitate a multi-state review of the proposed alternative. This joint review process will help ensure that alternative labeling plans submitted for approval by a manufacturer will meet the labeling requirements in all IMERC-member states.
Notification on Mercury Content of Products
If you manufacture, sell, distribute, or import a mercury-added product that you wish to sell in Vermont, you must file a Mercury-Added Product Notification Form online through IMERC.
Restrictions on the Sale of Certain Mercury-Added Products
What Products Have Sales Bans in Vermont?
- Novelties (excludes products containing button cell batteries or mercury added lamps);
- Fever Thermometers (excludes thermometers with button cell batteries);
- Thermostats (mercury-added);
- Elemental mercury (except for medical, manufacturing or research purposes);
- Dairy manometers
What Products are Banned from Sale in Vermont but can apply for an exemption?
- Barometers, esophageal dilators, bougie tubes, gastrointestinal tubes, flow meters, hydrometers, hygrometers or psychrometers, manometers other than dairy, pyrometers, sphygmomanometers, thermometers other than fever thermometers, mercury-added neon type signs or lamps;
- Mercury switches, and mercury relays (and products that contain these components)
What criteria must be met to apply for an exemption?
- A system exists for the proper collection, transportation, and processing of the product at the end of its life, including a system for the direct return of a waste product to the manufacturer or a collection and recycling system that is supported by an industry or trade group or other similar private or public-sector efforts; and
- One of the following applies:
- Use of the product provides a net benefit to the environment, public health, or public safety when compared to available nonmercury alternatives; or
- Technically feasible alternatives are not available at a reasonable cost.
Where does a manufacturer apply for an exemption?
Complete the exemption form provided by IMERC and check the box indicating you wish to apply for the exemption in Vermont. A multi-state review will be conducted; but, each state will reply with an individual response to the exemption request.
If your product is a large appliance where the product is sold in a store where that appliance is on display shall meet all the requirements by labeling the product, and the mercury-added component in the product. If the product is sold from a showroom floor, the prior-to-purchase visibility requirement can be met by placing the product label on the display appliance itself. If the product is not sold in a store where the appliance is on display, then the manufacturer must some other method to inform the consumer prior to purchase.
Labeling for motor vehicles require:
- No label on the internal mercury-added components within a motor vehicle;
- The vehicle label to list the mercury-added components included in the vehicle (The mercury-containing devices will vary with vehicle type);
- The vehicle label to be placed on the driver side doorpost (unless otherwise approved by the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation) of motor vehicles so equipped;
- The motor vehicle dealer will be responsible for applying the door post label (only in the case of a trade of a new vehicle by a dealer with a dealer in another state);
- No label on used motor vehicles;
- Label placement at a clearly visible location near the entry point on motor vehicles without suitable doorposts. This location will be subject to the approval of the Department; and
- The approved label wording as follows:
This vehicle may include mercury-containing devices installed by the manufacturer:
- High Intensity Discharge Headlamps
- Navigation Display
- Back-lit Instruments
Products that contain one or more replaceable mercury-added lamps
If your product has as its only mercury added component a lamp or lamps at least one of which is intended to be replaceable by the user or consumer, the internal lamp(s) must be labeled, the larger product must be labeled, the care and use manual (if any) must be labeled and if the lamp is placed within a housing or cartridge intended to be replaceable by the consumer, the housing or cartridge must also be labeled.
Visibility Requirement Under Vermont Law and Rule
The Vermont Labeling Law requires that component, product and package labels be placed such that they are clearly “visible” and that information regarding the presence of mercury is “visible prior to purchase” The following is a brief explanation of the differences between these two requirements.
A "visible" label is a requirement for a product to be labeled in a location that is visible on the product; this location is normally the same location where other existing labels are placed. A manufacturer may identify other key locations that are in closer proximity to the mercury-added component and more visible during the removal or installation of a replaceable component.
A "visible prior-to-purchase" label is a requirement that allows the purchaser to be aware of the presence of mercury in a product before purchasing the mercury-added product. This requirement usually depends on how a product is marketed to the purchaser. A simple way to determine how to comply would be to ask what the final purchaser sees before purchasing. If the product is sold at retail, this may be the package. If a product is sold strictly by using sales literature, the Internet or telephone sales, the manufacturer must place information in these media. The information must provide the same information as the standard label identifying the presence of mercury, the component that contains mercury, and instruction for proper disposal.
“Mercury switch” means a mercury-added product or device for measuring, controlling or regulating the flow of gas, other fluids or electricity. “Mercury switch” includes mercury float switches actuated by rising or falling liquid levels, mercury tilt switches actuated by a change in the switch position, mercury pressure switches actuated by a change in pressure, mercury temperature switches actuated by a change in temperature, mercury flame sensors and mercury connectors for making, breaking or changing the connection in an electrical circuit. “Mercury switch” does not include a mercury-containing thermostat as defined in 10 V.S.A. § 7102(16).
“Mercury relay” means a mercury-added product or device that opens or closes electrical contacts to affect the operation of other devices in the same or another electrical circuit and includes, but is not limited to, mercury displacement relays, mercury wetted reed relays, and mercury contact relays.
Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation
Waste Management and Prevention Division
1 National Life Drive, Davis 1
Montpelier, VT 05620