|VT DEC's Environmental Assistance Division staff is making mercury presentations at elementary and middle schools throughout the state. In the fall of 2002, there were 15-20 presentations that reached over 1000 students. School science teachers were mailed an announcement before the beginning of the school year with a return postcard, where they could request a date for a presentation. This system worked well and may be repeated in the future.
The Division participated in the annual Vermont State Dental Society meeting in 2002 and spoke to over 200 dentists, hygienists, and dental assistants on environmental best management practices. They also had a booth at the meeting and were able to meet and talk with many dentists about their environmental management practices.
The Division is working with the Advisory Committee on Mercury Pollution to conduct a pilot project on dental amalgam separators. DEC has 6-7 vendors of amalgam separators and about 20 dental offices lined up for a pilot project where separators will be installed for a period of 6 to 8 months to gather operational information on each of the installations (no effluent testing will be done). DEC is working jointly on this project with the Vermont State Dental Society. Installations began in April 2003. Amalgam separator installation will become part of best management practices for dental offices after the pilot is completed and evaluated.
VT DEC has completed a pilot project with seven salvage yards for voluntary removal of mercury trunk and hood light switches. Five of these salvage yards were paid a bounty for switch removal through SEP monies. A total of 800 switches were removed during the pilot, and overall, the results were mixed. It is clear that a financial incentive alone is not sufficient incentive for voluntary programs. DEC will be further evaluating the need for legislation in this area as had been previously proposed.
An effort was made in the fall of 2002 to reach out to HVAC contractors with a mailing on thermostat recycling opportunities at commercial wholesale supply establishments. Most of these supply establishments participate in the Thermostat Recycling Corporation's program.
DEC is working with a contractor in 2003 to provide assistance to Vermont hospitals in developing mercury reduction plans. The first phase of the project has been to develop and implement a pledge program for mercury reduction and participation in the program, which consists of training workshops, on-site mercury inventory assistance, and plan development. The majority of hospitals have signed on to the pledge - the goal is 100 percent participation.
It is very likely that auto mercury switch legislation will be signed into law in Vermont this 2006 legislative session. Provisions include a mandate for removal of trunk and hood light switches and anti-lock braking systems (ABS) switches by vehicle recyclers and salvage yards prior to crushing; a requirement for auto manufacturers to provide switch collection programs, educational programs, and reporting of collections to the Department; and a requirement for the Department to provide assistance and education on program implementation. The legislation does not include a switch bounty and would take effect January 1, 2007.
In February 2006, Draft Dental Best Management Practices were issued that cover dental amalgam waste handling, hazardous waste handling, and a requirement for installation of amalgam separators. Dental practices will be required to self-certify to the Department every other year on compliance with the BMPs. VT DEC is now completing a review of compliance self-certifications of dental best management practices (BMPs) by Vermont dental practices. More than 95 percent of practices have complied with the BMPs, including installation of amalgam separators. A survey of amalgam use by Vermont dentists has been conducted to determine mercury use and reduction. The Vermont State Dental Society has assisted VT DEC in achieving high compliance rates with dental BMPs.
Vermont hospitals and their affiliated facilities are required to develop mercury reduction plans. The planning guidance is currently under development and will include an exemption provision when 95 percent mercury use reduction is demonstrated. It is anticipated that many hospitals will be able to qualify for an exemption from the planning process due to previous mercury reduction efforts. VT DEC is now completing an assistance project with Vermont’s 16 hospitals that involves the development of mercury reduction plans that address mercury use in patient care settings, including outpatient facilities. This project will document and quantify mercury reductions that have occurred in the last few years and future commitments to mercury reduction.