Mercury Bans Continue in Europe

March 2009 (09B-125)

Mercury thermometersBulletin Summary      

Many governments worldwide have started to ban or reduce the use of mercury. Mercury thermometers are to be banned in Europe, Sweden will ban all mercury products and there are plans for an international treaty banning mercury.

In September 2008 the European Union adopted a resolution banning mercury exports starting in 2011, and the United States agreed to ban mercury exports starting in 2013.

Mercury, also called quicksilver, is a potent neurotoxin and has been linked to many different diseases including autism, learning disabilities, Alzheimer’s, arthritis, depression, and bipolar disorder. Children and the unborn are at particular risk of health hazards.  


The following legislation applies throughout the EU:·   

  > Directive 2007/51/EC regarding mercury in measuring and control devices forbids placing mercury thermometers, barometers and blood pressure meters from the 3 April 2009.

  > Existing legislation already restricts mercury including Directive 94/62/EC for Packaging and packaging waste imposes a limit of 100 ppm by weight for the sum of concentration levels of lead, cadmium, mercury and hexavalent chromium present in packaging. ·   

  > The RoHS Directive (2002/95/EC) also restricts the use of six materials including mercury, in electrical and electronic products. The maximum permitted concentration is 0.1% or 1000 ppm by weight of homogeneous material.


Since the early 1990s there has been a ban in Sweden on the manufacture and sale of certain products containing mercury, including thermometers and other measuring devices and electronic components. On the 15th January 2009, however, the Swedish Ministry of Environment announced that it plans to ban all use of mercury in the country beginning on June 1 2009. The Swedish ban appears to be the most sweeping mercury ban yet; it even applies to mercury amalgams used in dentistry. Waste that contains mercury is also not permitted to be exported out of Sweden unless it contains less than 0.1 % by weight of mercury if the purpose of the export is disposal or if the purpose is recycling.


The members of the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) have agreed to draw up a global mercury treaty. An international agreement to begin talks and install a project on a legally binding treaty to curb mercury use and emissions was agreed at a meeting in February. The project shall be finished in 2010.

What Now?

Bureau Veritas is well placed to assist you in facing your chemical management challenges. With more than 60 offices and laboratories we are globally present with educated and experienced personnel to assist you and help you protect your products, brands and company.


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