Mercury Laws - Mercury Education and Reduction Act (MERA)

The Mercury Education and Reduction Act (MERA) passed the Legislature in 2003.  This law mandated labeling light bulbs and their packaging, banned most mercury in schools, and banned the sale of most mercury-containing products.

Chapter 70.95M RCW—Mercury is Washington's mercury-reduction law, enacted by MERA.

Labeling Lamps and Packaging

As mandated by MERA, all lamps and packages must have an “Hg” label and must conform to other requirements. hg All mercury-containing light bulbs and lamps must clearly display the internationally recognized symbol for the element mercury (Hg). 

Additionally, all lamp packaging must include the same symbol.  The packaging must also clearly inform the purchaser that:

  • Mercury is present in the item.
  • The item must be disposed of at a recycling facility or drop-off area, according to state and local laws.
  • The provided toll-free telephone number, as well as the listed internet address contains information on applicable disposal laws.

Fluorescent lamps — Labeling requirements is at RCW 70.95M.020.

Purchasing Preferences

Washington State government must purchase products containing little or no mercury, and primary and secondary schools may no longer purchase elemental mercury or mercury compounds. 

Schools removed and properly disposed of bulk elemental mercury in 2005. The Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) and the Department of Health (DOH) worked with the schools on this project. They removed 2,600 pounds of mercury.

Prohibited Products

As of January 1, 2006, MERA banned the sale of:

For the success of these and other projects, see Mercury Measures and Mercury-containing Products.

Also, the Department of Ecology joined the The Interstate Mercury Education and Reduction Clearinghouse (IMERC) to partner with other states and governmental entities working on these problems. 

Related information

Environmentally Preferable Purchasing has more on how state agencies are going mercury free.

The Mercury Education and Reduction Act links to the actual law at the Office of the Code Reviser

Health and Safety Guide for Schools from OSPI and DOH

The Interstate Mercury Education and Reduction Clearinghouse (IMERC) is a multi-state clearinghouse. Washington is a member.

The Mercury page from the Washington State Department of Health discusses human health and mercury.