U.S. EPA Contaminated Site Cleanup Information (CLU-IN)

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
U.S. EPA Technology Innovation and Field Services Division


Policy and Guidance

Mercury regulations span multiple federal and state statutes, as well as multiple agency jurisdictions. For example, the EPA regulates mercury in pesticides, and mercury releases into the environment through air (Clean Air Act), water (Clean Water Act, Safe Drinking Water Act), and land disposal limits (Resource Conservation and Recovery Act). The Food and Drug Administration regulates mercury in cosmetics, food, and dental products. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulates mercury air exposures in the workplace. With the exception of the Toxic Chemical Release Inventory (TRI), which specifically requires facilities to report chemical releases into all media, programs that require mercury release reporting are incorporated into broader regulatory programs.

Mercury is a teratogen (i.e., a substance capable of causing birth defects), and it also attacks the central nervous system. In the environment, mercury can bioaccumulate, reaching dangerous levels in fish at the top of the aquatic food chain. The states, U.S. Territories, and Native American tribes have primary responsibility for protecting their residents from the health risks of consuming contaminated noncommercially caught fish. They do this by issuing consumption advisories (fish advisories) for the general population, as well as for specific vulnerable subpopulations. States also have the flexibility to impose site-specific mercury regulations on individual sources.

Only a few examples of information generated by state governments have been captured here. The reader should be aware that each state has multiple departments and programs that address the various aspects of managing mercury in the home, workplace, and environment, and provide guidance on how to comply with state-specific provisions concerning mercury.

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Background Information on Mercury Sources and Regulations
U.S. EPA, Great Lakes National Program Office.
Contact: Alexis Cain,

Adobe PDF LogoMercury Update: Impact on Fish Advisories
U.S. EPA Office of Water, EPA-823-F-01-011

U.S. EPA Mercury Home Page.

Contains basic information, answers to frequently asked questions about mercury, and links to a variety of fish consumption advisory pages, human exposure and health effects information, and mercury-specific laws and regulations.


Adobe PDF LogoBefore You Tear it Down, Get the Mercury Out: Recommended Management Practices for Pre-Demolition Removal of Mercury-Containing Devices from Residential Buildings
EPA 905-F-11-008, 2 pp, 2011

This fact sheet specifically addresses pre-demolition removal of mercury-containing gas pressure regulators, mercury-containing boiler heating systems, and thermostats.

Adobe PDF LogoEmergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act — Section 313: Guidance for Reporting Toxic Chemicals: Mercury and Mercury Compounds Category
U.S. EPA, Office of Environmental Information. EPA 260-B-01-004, 2001.

Mercury: Emergency Spill & Release Facts
U.S. EPA, Office of Emergency and Remedial Response. EPA 540-K-97-004, 1997.

Adobe PDF LogoThe Scenarios Approach to Attenuation-Based Remedies for Inorganic and Radionuclide Contaminants
Truex, M., P. Brady, C. Newell, M. Rysz, M. Denham, and K. Vangelas.
SRNL-STI-2011-00459, 111 pp, Aug 2011

This document was developed as a technical resource to guide interested parties through the process of evaluating attenuation-based remedies for sites contaminated with inorganic or radionuclide contaminants. The six scenarios are based on aquifer geochemical properties: oxidation-reduction potential, cation exchange capacity, and ferric iron oxide content. Section 1 steps the reader through using the scenarios approach, including how to choose a scenario, the parameters on which the scenarios are based, and worksheets to organize data. Section 2 discusses specific attenuation processes affecting contaminant mobility, shows how to use a scenario to develop a site conceptual model, discusses how to apply MNA and EA to specific scenarios, and ties the scenarios approach to U.S. EPA's four tiers of evidence for demonstrating MNA. Section 3 provides detail on attenuation mechanisms and development of conceptual models, discusses the EPA four-tiered approach in more detail, and includes additional information on geochemical reactions, monitoring, remediation, and costs. Appendix B contains a synopsis of mercury chemistry.

Adobe PDF LogoSoil Screening Guidance: A User's Guide
U.S. EPA, Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response.
EPA 540-R-96-018, 1996.
Contact: David Cooper,

Adobe PDF LogoTMDLS Where Mercury Loadings Are Predominantly from Air Deposition
U.S. EPA, Office of Wetlands, Oceans and Watersheds, 22 pp, 2008

This checklist identifies the elements of total maximum daily loads (TMDLs) and other considerations for developing mercury TMDLs at different geographic scales: waterbody-specific, regional or statewide, and multiple states.


Guidance for Implementing the Methylmercury Water Quality Criterion
U.S. EPA, Office of Science and Technology.
Report No: EPA 823-R-09-002, 211 pp, 2009

In 2001, EPA published ambient water quality criteria (AWQC) recommendations for methylmercury for the protection of people who eat fish and shellfish. The criterion of 0.3 mg methylmercury/kg fish tissue wet weight marks EPA's first issuance of a water quality criterion expressed as a fish and shellfish tissue value rather than as an ambient water column value. This document provides technical guidance to states and authorized tribes exercising responsibility under section CWA 303(c) on how to use the new fish tissue-based criterion recommendation as they develop their own water quality standards for methylmercury.

Adobe PDF LogoWater Quality Criterion for the Protection of Human Health: Methylmercury
U.S. EPA, Office of Science and Technology, Office of Water. EPA 823-R-01-001, 2001.
Contact: Denis Borum,


Adobe PDF LogoConcurrence Policy for Mercury Removals
U.S. EPA. Office of Emergency and Remedial Response.
EPA 541-F-98-019, OSWER 9360.1-05, 4 pp., 1998.

Adobe PDF LogoDraft Report for Mercury Reduction Options
U.S. EPA, 2000.
Contact: Alexis Cain,


Adobe PDF LogoFact Sheet, SB 633: California's Mercury Reduction Act of 2001
California Environmental Protection Agency, Dept. of Toxic Substances Control, 2002.
Contact: Public and Business Liaison, 1-800-728-6942

Mercury State Resources Tool
Environmental Compliance Assistance Platform (EnvCAP)

Adobe PDF LogoState Plan for the Control of Mercury Emissions from Existing Coal-Fired Electric Steam Generating Units.
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Environmental Protection, Bureau of Air Quality, 2007.

New Jersey Mercury Task Force Report, Volume 1:Executive Summary and Recommendations
State of New Jersey Dept. of Environmental Protection, 2002.
Contact: Leslie McGeorge, 609-292-1623

Washington State Mercury Chemical Action Plan
Washington State Department of Ecology. Publication 03-03-001, 2003.


Adobe PDF LogoRisk-Based Management of Mercury-Impacted Sites
Phipps, O., J. Barrett, P. Hesketh, and R. Brown.
NICOLE: Network for Industrially Contaminated Land in Europe, 68 pp, 2015

This report was prepared to share current information, identify eight case study sites, and describe best practices for characterization and management of Hg-contamination in soil and groundwater at industrial sites.

Toolkit for Identification and Quantification of Mercury Releases
United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP): Chemicals, Geneva, Switzerland. Version 1.1, 312 pp, 2011

The toolkit is intended to help users develop a national or regional mercury inventory that identifies sources of mercury releases and estimates or quantifies these releases. The toolkit contains a methodology (a 4-step process), illustrative examples, and extensive information on mercury release sources. Two versions of the manual and calculation spreadsheet are available.