Products that contain mercury: batteries

Use: Mercury-containing batteries generally consist of the button cell type found in wrist watches, hearing aids, calculators, and various types of applications in labs, hospitals, and military and commercial facilities (NEWMOA, 2003).

Description: Mercury oxide, silver oxide, and button cell batteries are the most common mercury-containing batteries (NEWMOA, 2003). Since the late 1990s North American battery manufacturers have reduced mercury content in batteries by 95%. The use of mercury in alkaline batteries has been eliminated except for button cells (GLBTS, 2003).

Observing battery packaging is the best method of identifying mercury-containing batteries. Product labels may also be helpful in identifying mercury-containing batteries.

Mercury content: Batteries generally contain between 5 and 25 milligrams of mercury per battery. Specialty batteries for labs, hospitals, and military and commerical applications may have a higher mercury content (NEWMOA, 2003).

Alternatives: Where practical, electrical devices are preferable to battery-operated products. The use of rechargeable batteries is also a good alternative. Alkaline batteries are less durable than mercury batteries. Most batteries have an alternative replacement of the rechargeable type. Not all replacements may be compatible with products. Consult with device manufacturer's directions for replacement criteria. Rechargeable batteries are initially more expensive, but cost recovery can be quick depending on use.

If not properly disposed of, all batteries are an environmental hazard. Rechargeable and disposable batteries are recyclable where programs exist.

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