Mercury Education and Reduction Act

In 2003, the Washington State Legislature passed the Mercury Education and Reduction Act (MERA). MERA bans the sale of some mercury containing products, requires the labeling of mercury containing light bulbs and lamps, and requires the removal of mercury from elementary and high schools. Repeat violators of MERA may be fined up to $5000 per violation.

Labeling Requirements for Lamps

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 and must inform the purchaser:

  • 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.

Other states have different labeling requirements, however a lamp that is labeled in accordance with our states law meets Washington’s requirements.

The Interstate Mercury Education and Reduction Clearinghouse maintains a website with the “standard marking” requirements. Marking products with the “standard marking” assures that the product meets all state marking requirements.

Prohibited Products

MERA prohibits the following mercury-containing products in Washington. For details please see RCW 70.95M.050:

  • thermometers, (see RCW 70.95M.050 for Exemptions)
  • manometers, or blood-pressure gauges
  • commercial or residential thermostats unless the manufacturer participates in a recovery/recycling program
  • novelties, (toys, games, clothing, ointments, and other items) containing any amount of intentionally added mercury.
  • newly manufactured cars containing mercury switches.

Requirements for Schools

All primary and secondary schools are required to remove and properly dispose of all bulk mercury, chemical mercury, or mercury compounds used as teaching aids in science classrooms. Schools are not required to dispose of mercury barometers.


A company or person that violates MERA may be subject to a $1000 penalty for the first violation and a $5000 penalty for subsequent violations.