EPA has issued a proposed rule which, if finalized, would incorporate “the most recent versions of the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) International standards into EPA regulations that provide flexibility to use alternatives to mercury-containing industrial thermometers.” 76 Fed. Reg. 2,056 (01/12/11). The proposal is part of an EPA initiative to reduce the use of mercury-containing products to help prevent unnecessary human and environmental exposures to elemental mercury. EPA requests comments by March 14, 2011.

EPA is also seeking public responses to specific questions, including (i) “How can EPA provide additional flexibility in the use of mercury-free thermometers to comply with the Agency’s relevant regulations?”; (ii) “Are requirements to use mercury-containing thermometers necessary for performance reasons or should flexibility be provided in most if not all measurement applications?”; (iii) “Does the use of data-loggers for temperature measurement in autoclaves provide a viable alternative to the use of mercury-containing thermometers?”; and (iv) “What else can EPA do to help expedite the use of alternatives to mercury-containing thermometers where feasible, comparable, and available?”