Frequent Questions

What is mercury-containing equipment (MCE)?

Mercury-containing equipment (MCE) consists of devices, items, or articles that contain varying amounts of elemental mercury that is integral to their function, including several types of instruments that are used throughout the electric utility industry and other industries, municipalities, and households. This definition does not include mercury waste that is generated as a by-product through the process of manufacturing or treatment. Mercury-containing equipment is likely to be a hazardous waste when disposed of or reclaimed because it exhibits the toxicity characteristic (TC) for mercury. (70 FR 45508, 45509; August 5, 2005)

Some of the various types of MCE are thermostats, manometers, barometers, flow meters, mercury light switches, mercury regulators, pressure relief gauges, water treatment gauges, and gas safety relays. A more complete list of examples of MCE is available in the docket to the rulemaking in the Economic Analysis of the MCE Final Rule. The MCE Final Rule (Docket ID No. RCRA-2004-0012) is available at the following URL:

The August 5, 2005, Mercury-Containing Equipment Final Rule added mercury-containing equipment to the Federal list of universal wastes regulated under the RCRA hazardous waste regulations (70 FR 45508; August 5, 2005).

The August 5, 2005, Federal Register is available at the following URL:

It is important to note that some states are authorized to add wastes that are not federal universal wastes to their lists of universal wastes. Therefore, in some states, spent MCE may already be regulated as a universal waste.

This guidance represents clarification of the federal regulations. Since most states are authorized to implement the Federal regulations, you should contact your state environmental agency for guidance on MCE. State web sites are located at the following URL:

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