The Mercury Export Ban Act was signed into law on October 14, 2008. The Act includes provisions on both mercury exports and long-term mercury management and storage. Currently, mercury is exported from the U.S. to foreign countries where it has various uses, including for use in small-scale gold (artisanal) mining. This use of mercury raises worker safety and environmental emissions issues. To aid in addressing these concerns, EPA has provided expertise to the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO)'s Global Mercury Project's artisanal mining project, which focuses on best management practices to reduce occupational exposure, emissions and mercury use.
The Act's three main provisions are the following:
- Export of elemental mercury is prohibited from the U.S. beginning January 1, 2013.
- Federal agencies are prohibited from conveying, selling or distributing elemental mercury that is under their control or jurisdiction. This includes stockpiles held by the Departments of Energy and Defense.
- The Department of Energy (DOE) must designate one or more DOE facilities for long-term management and storage of elemental mercury generated within the U.S. This designation must occur no later than January 1, 2010.
To help the public understand and comply with the Act, EPA has provided "Questions and Answers about the Mercury Export Ban Act of 2008."
For more information, visit EPA's Mercury Laws and Regulations section.