ILLINOIS ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY
OFFICE OF POLLUTION PREVENTION AUGUST 2008
P.O. BOX 19276
SPRINGFIELD, ILLINOIS 62794‐9276
Mercury Switch Removal
From End-of-Life Vehicles
Becomes Mandatory September 1, 2008
What is the mercury switch removal requirement?
Beginning September 1, 2008, all mercury-containing switches from scrap or “end-of-life”
vehicles must be removed prior to delivery of the vehicle to a scrap metal recycling facility,
unless the switch is inaccessible due to significant damage to the vehicle in the area
surrounding the location of the switch. This switch removal requirement went into effect
because not enough mercury switches were collected for recycling under a voluntary program
that was created in 2007.
Who is affected?
The switch removal requirement applies to all vehicle recycling facilities that are in the business
of acquiring, dismantling or destroying six (6) or more vehicles in a calendar year for the primary
purpose of resale of the vehicle's parts. Scrap metal recyclers and vehicle crushers are also
subject to the requirement if they accept scrap vehicles that have not been intentionally
flattened, crushed or baled and the vehicle contains mercury switches.
Why collect mercury switches?
The purpose of removing mercury switches from scrap vehicles is to reduce mercury releases to
the environment when vehicles are shredded and smelted to make steel products. Most of this
mercury eventually will be released to the air unless these switches are removed before the
vehicles are flattened or crushed. Once in the environment, mercury can be converted into
more toxic methylmercury, which accumulates in the food chain.
Where are the switches located?
Vehicles manufactured prior to 2003 may contain mercury switches. The switches are found in
the hood or trunk convenience light assemblies as well as vanity mirrors in some vehicles. They
are also located in anti-lock brake G-force sensors (see pictures below).
Example of Ford light switch Example of GM light switch Example of anti-lock braking
Photo credit: Tom Corbett Photo credit: Tom Corbett sensor from a 1999 Jeep
NY Department of NY Department of Grand Cherokee. Photo
Environmental Conservation Environmental Conservation credit: Jeff Gearhart