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Mercury collection programs are failing, toxic compounds ending up in trash

A new report says voluntary programs to keep mercury thermostats out of the trash in Arizona, and across the country, are failing.

Michael Bender of the Mercury Policy Project says the programs, run by manufacturers, have captured just a small portion of the thermostats that have come out of service in the last ten years.

“We estimate that nationally only about 8 percent of the available mercury thermostats are being collected, and as a result of that, there’s about 50 tons of mercury that got into the environment that could have been collected,” Bender said.

The report ranks Arizona 31st among the states in its mercury thermostat collection rate. Mercury and most of its compounds are extremely toxic and exposure can lead to a variety of physical, cognitive and behavioral problems.