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March 31, 2020

EPA Publishes 2020 Mercury Inventory Report

Lynn L. Bergeson Carla N. Hutton

On March 30, 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published the 2020 Mercury Inventory Report on the supply, use, and trade of mercury in the United States.  The report presents aggregated data submitted on imported mercury, mercury manufactured in the United States, imported mercury-added products, mercury-added products made in the United States, and mercury used in manufacturing processes.  The inventory report also provides a broad view of U.S. mercury stored, sold, and exported, as well as industry sectors and countries involved in the supply, use, and trade of mercury.  According to EPA, highlights of the report include:

  • No indication of imports or exports of elemental mercury into or out of the United States during the reporting year;
  • Continuation of the overall steady decline in the use of mercury in products, indicative of the growing presence and use of effective alternatives;
  • A decrease in the amount of mercury used in switches and relays manufactured in or imported into the United States — data submitted also fill a significant information gap;
  • Only a single mercury-based manufacturing process identified as ongoing in the United States; and
  • Information relevant for U.S. implementation of the Minamata Convention on Mercury.

EPA notes that the 2020 Mercury Inventory Report is the first inventory published under the 2018 rule requiring reporting from persons who manufacture (including import) mercury or mercury-added products, or otherwise intentionally use mercury in a manufacturing process.  According to EPA, this means that the data presented in the 2020 report come directly from the companies that are using, manufacturing, or importing mercury, providing EPA and the public with more reliable and complete information on the supply, use, and trade of mercury in the United States.  EPA states that the initial 2017 inventory, on the other hand, was limited to publicly available data.  In addition, the 2020 report incorporates data from contextual reporting requirements, resulting “in more extensive information on the industries that purchase mercury-added products, countries of origin and destination for imports and exports, and the specific ways that mercury is used in certain manufacturing processes.”  More information will be available in a forthcoming memorandum that will be posted on our website.