The Clean Car Campaign has joined forces with automotive dealerships, state
and city officials, and environmental organizations across the nation today to
kick off a “Switch-the-Switch” event to help protect the public and the
environment from toxic mercury. Participating automotive dealerships will
replace convenience lighting mercury switches with mercury-free alternatives
in customer vehicles for free during the event, and state and city officials will
replace mercury switches in government vehicle fleets.
The Clean Car Campaign today also called on auto manufacturers to establish a
national program to recover mercury in vehicles. “The Clean Car Campaign
commends the leadership of the dealers and fleet managers participating in this
week’s event; we now need the industry as a whole to step up to the plate and
offer this important service to help protect our environment and our health,” said
Dean Menke of Environmental Defense, a member of the Clean Car
Mercury is a highly toxic substance that can cause severe nervous system
problems in humans and wildlife. Mercury switches used until recently in hood
and trunk convenience lighting are the most common source of mercury in cars.
These switches contribute to the estimated 200 tons of mercury in vehicles on
the road today. Much of this mercury will be released to the environment when
the vehicles are scrapped, unless auto manufacturers offer a safe and effective
program to collect this toxic substance.
“It’s time for auto manufacturers to take responsibility for the tons of mercury in
vehicles now on the road,” said Michael Bender of the Mercury Policy Project,
a Clean Car Campaign member.
According to a report by the Centers for Disease Control, over 375,000 children
born in the U.S. each year are at risk for neurodevelopment problems, from
mild learning disabilities to mental retardation, because of exposure to mercury
in the womb. Despite the extreme danger, the U.S. auto industry continues to
routinely use mercury in cars, even though practical alternatives are widely
“Switch-the-Switch” events are taking place at dealerships and government
fleets in Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota,
New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Texas, Vermont, Washington, and
The Clean Car Campaign is working to keep the mercury collected from the
switches from being resold and placed into new products through the donated
services of Comus, Int. and Bethlehem Apparatus to receive, collect and store
the mercury on an interim basis of at least one year.
The Clean Car Campaign is a coalition of national and regional environmental
organizations. It continues to challenge automakers to meet the Clean Car
Standard and hold them accountable for their vehicle design and manufacturing
decisions. For more information on the Campaign, the “Switch-the-Switch”
events and the issue of automotive mercury, visit their website at
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