October 2005

Group expects Ford to remove mercury switches from recalled autos

Washington— Inside the 3.8 million vehicles that Ford is recalling for defective cruise control switches are approximately 2.5 million mercury switches that pose another threat to the public. These switches combined contain as much as 6,500 pounds of mercury, which is as much mercury as the top five emitting coal-fired power plants emit in one year.

Mercury switches are the nation's largest manufacturing source of toxic mercury. If not removed from vehicles prior to the steel recycling process, the mercury enters the environment and threatens public health.

The following statements may be attributed to the Partnership for Mercury-Free Vehicles:

"Ford can fix two dangerous problems at once by removing the toxic mercury switches that are contained in many of these vehicles. The recalled vehicles are responsible for the majority of Ford's use of mercury switches during the years covered by the recall."

"Removing mercury switches would allow Ford to take the lead in preventing mercury emissions from their vehicles. All domestic automakers ought to take responsibility and remove these toxic switches and replace them with mercury-free alternatives when they have vehicles in for repair.

"Domestic automakers have resisted efforts by states to make them responsible for the mercury switches. They have contended that the switches take only 48 seconds to remove and that dismantlers ought to be responsible to do it without compensation. If that is the case, we encourage Ford to take an extra minute to remove the mercury switches and help eliminate this toxic substance from our environment."

"The domestic auto industry used an estimated 197 tons of mercury in vehicle switches in the U.S. over the past 30 years, and continued to use mercury switches for many years after promising to change to mercury-free alternatives and well after they installed the mercury-free alternatives in their vehicles sold in Europe. Using mercury switches saved the automakers only pennies per car."

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