Environmental Health & Safety

Mercury Use Reduction Policy

January 2010


This policy is prepared in accordance with the requirements of the Massachusetts General Law (MGL) c. 21I, § 3, 10-12 of the Toxic Use Reduction Act; the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) 310 CMR 50; and the Amherst College Environmental Health and Safety Committee.


Amherst College is committed to the reduction, wherever possible, of liquid mercury acquisition, utilization, storage, and the subsequent need for disposal of mercury. This policy is written to provide guidance regarding decisions related to the acquisition of mercury and mercury bearing devices.


All departments, employees, visitors, and subcontractors at Amherst College.

Planning and Procurement

A. All Departments
  1. For teaching and research laboratories, wherever possible, substitute non-mercury devices, e.g., alcohol thermometers or digital thermometers. Wherever possible specify the use of non-mercury devices for measuring pressure, etc.
  2. Wherever possible identify mercury devices or mercury metal which are no longer needed but may be utilized by another researcher or laboratory.
  3. Procure mercury in the smallest quantities available which meet the maximum usage requirements. It is more economical for Amherst College to repurchase additional quantities of mercury when needed than to declare excess quantities of mercury for disposal.
  4. Eliminate wherever possible the use of mercury wetted switches.
B. Subcontractors

Wherever possible, subcontractors will be required to use only environmentally friendly products at Amherst College. Where mercury devices can not be avoided, the contractor shall provide a plan detailing the type of device, the quantity to be used, spill and control plans, and finally the subcontractor's disposition of any mercury.

C. Utilization and Management of Mercury

All mercury and mercury devices will be handled, used, and stored in accordance with the Hazardous Material Management Policy, 6.0 and/or the Chemical Hygiene Plan, 20.0. Any mercury or mercury bearing device which is deemed unacceptable for future use or is identified as excess material without future need will be declared hazardous waste by attachment of the appropriate hazardous waste label and managed in accordance with the Hazardous Waste Management Policy, 8.0.

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