State Mercury-Added Labeling Guidelines
Labeling Products and Packaging
The states of Connecticut, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington (lamps only) prohibit the sale of mercury-added products unless they have a label indicating that the product contains mercury and information concerning proper disposal. The label must meet certain specified standards (standard labeling) regarding wording, size, location, visibility, and durability unless, the states have approved an alternative labeling to standard labeling that allows the manufacturer to vary from one or more of the specified standards. The purpose of labeling mercury-added products is to:
What Products Require Labeling?
The labeling laws apply to any product that contains mercury, a mercury compound, or a component containing mercury if the mercury is intentionally added to the product (or component) for any reason. The types of mercury-added products that are regulated by individual states may vary. Mercury-added pharmaceuticals approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration are exempt from state labeling requirements.
Who Must Label?
The manufacturer of the mercury-added product presumably is in the best position to label the product. However, importers and distributors may assume this responsibility if they choose. Retailers cannot "knowingly" sell a mercury-added product in CT, LA, MA, ME, MN, NY, RI, VT, and WA unless it is properly labeled, but are not required by law to affix labels to the product. Retailers, importers, and distributors of mercury-added products should contact the manufacturer to determine if it has met the states' labeling requirements.
Maryland and Oregon (thermostats only) also have mercury-added product labeling laws. These states are not members of IMERC.
What are the "Standard Labeling" requirements for mercury-added products?
Labeling requirements generally mandate that a mercury-added product has a visible and durable label that indicates that it contains mercury and should be managed or disposed of properly. The states also require that the product packaging bear a label that is visible prior to purchase indicating that it contains mercury and should be managed or disposed of properly. Indiviual state requirements may vary. However, a label that meets the following specifications would also meet the requirements of all IMERC-member states:
The States have determined that any mercury-added product that includes the following three pieces of information on the product label meets the minimum “standard” labeling requirements for all IMERC-member states.
If manufacturers are able to include a fourth piece of information to indicate that the product can be recycled, the states would recommend that they also include:
Note: these are meant to be examples only. Manufacturers may choose to incorporate slightly different images, or keep the label as text only. As long as they follow the eight steps noted above, they meet the standard requirements.
Alternative Labeling Plans
A manufacturer may apply to the IMERC-member states for an alternative to the requirements of the standard labeling law where:
To request approval for mercury-added product alternative labeling or renew a plan previously approved by the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation, complete both of the Alternative Labeling Request Forms and submit them to IMERC.
IMERC will facilitate review and discussion of the proposed alternatives to standard labeling by representatives from the participating states, as appropriate. This joint review process will help ensure that alternative labeling plans submitted for approval by a manufacturer will meet the labeling requirements in all IMERC-member states.
Approved Alternative Labels
The IMERC-member states recognize the need for consistency among mercury-added products, and the desire for simplicity in applying for an alternative label. They also understand that not every single product will be able to accommodate the full standard label. In 2016, the States developed a tiered labeling approach as described below.
In limited cases, the States have approved product and/or package labels outside of the tiered system. The Attached Document includes examples of alternative labels that have been approved for use and are recognized by the IMERC states as satisfying their mercury-added product labeling requirements. These are publically available and may be used by manufacturers wishing to deviate from the “standard” label requirements.
Manufacturers who wish to implement one of these alternatives must submit an application to IMERC, noting the pre-approved label number. Once received, the IMERC states will send the company a confirmation of receipt and a formal approval to use this label. Generally, alternative labels are approved for a period of three years. Manufacturers must submit a letters requesting renewal of an alternative label, at least 30 days prior to the labels' expiration date(s).
For more information about labeling mercury-added products, including information about alternative labeling requests, contact