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Quicksilver Caucus


The Quicksilver Caucus (QSC) was formed in May 2001 by a coalition of State environmental association leaders to collaboratively develop holistic approaches for reducing mercury in the environment. Caucus association members include the Environmental Council of the States (ECOS), the Association of Clean Water Administrators (ACWA), the Association of State and Territorial Solid Waste Management Officials (ASTSWMO), the National Association of Clean Air Agencies (NACAA), the Association of State Drinking Water Administrators (ASDWA) and the National Pollution Prevention Roundtable (NPPR). The Quicksilver Caucus' long-term goal is that state, federal, and international actions result in net mercury reductions to the environment.

Representing the state environmental agency directors, ECOS is the flagship association member of the Quicksilver Caucus. ECOS provides staff to facilitate the group's activities, and ECOS staff work to find grant funding to support the group's activities.

The Quicksilver Caucus establishes its policy recommendations by consensus, and all six (6) association members of the Quicksilver Caucus are considered stakeholders in this process, and their input is solicited in an effort to reach consensus. Each association member has a lead representative serving on the Quicksilver Caucus. The lead representatives work to find consensus on issues and form the core of the Quicksilver Caucus Leadership Team.

Periodically, the Quicksilver Caucus chooses to pursue various mercury-related work projects according to the direction of ECOS staff in consultation with ECOS members. This process is also influenced by input from U.S. EPA, the amount of grant funds available for supporting coordination of the work, and the ongoing and extensive solicitation of input from Quicksilver Caucus members. Caucus members serve as volunteers to lead various work projects. Sometimes work projects are pursued as collaborative efforts between the Quicksilver Caucus and U.S. EPA or other groups.

Work projects may include holding webinars or conference calls to share information, or publishing research reports, compendiums, case studies, or white papers. ECOS staff work on a continuous basis to share mercury-related technical and policy news’and information with Quicksilver Caucus members, U.S. EPA, and other groups.

Mark Smith (Massachusetts) currently serves as the Lead ECOS Representative of the Quicksilver Caucus. Carolyn Hanson provides staff support.

The QSC is working collaboratively and in partnership in three priority areas:

  • Stewardship approaches for reducing mercury in the environment and managing safe, long-term storage of elemental mercury nationally and internationally.
  • Multi-media approaches for a mercury-based TMDL taking into account the contributions of the air and waste program as well as using their statutes to craft solutions.
  • Approaches to decrease the global supply and demand for mercury.

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New Mercury Letter Published

On Jan. 14, 2014— ECOS and the Quicksilver Caucus sent a letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy seeking her support for reinvigorating the longstanding state-federal collaboration on mercury. The letter proposes that the Administration work with ECOS to pursue several specific tasks in an effort to further reduce mercury pollution and protect public health.

New Mercury Report Published

On August 23, 2013-- ECOS published the Status Report on Select Products, Processes and Technologies Utilizing Mercury. The report was developed by the Quicksilver Caucus and explores the problems associated with mercury occurring in select products, processes and technologies not yet thoroughly examined by experts in the field, such as tattoo inks and nanomaterials. Development of the report was supported by a grant from U.S. EPA.

Webinar To Be Held on Mercury TMDLs

On September 11, 2012-- ECOS and the Quicksilver Caucus will host a webinar to feature state, regional, and watershed-based mercury TMDLs. This webinar is open to ECOS, U.S. EPA, and Quicksilver Caucus participants only. Officials from several states will give presentations. Webinar information is posted here. Information on an earlier webinar held on July 17 is also posted. For more information, contact Beth Graves (

Webinar Held on State Mercury Thermostat Collection Programs

On May 31, 2012-- ECOS and the Quicksilver Caucus hosted a webinar to feature state mercury thermostat programs and to discuss how to increase collection rates. The webinar was open to ECOS, U.S. EPA, and Quicksilver Caucus participants only. Officials from several states gave presentations. Slideshows are posted here. For more information, contact Beth Graves (

Quicksilver Caucus Urges Dept of Energy to Request Funds to Establish a Storage Facility for Elemental Mercury

On May 8, 2012, the Quicksilver Caucus sent a letter to Dr. Steven Chu, Secretary of Energy, urging his agency to request the congressional funding needed to finalize the process for establishing a storage facility for elemental mercury- pursuant to the Mercury Export Ban Act of 2008.

Nevada Achieves Significant Reductions in Mercury from Gold Mines

On May 25, 2011, QSC member Mike Elges (Nevada) gave a presentation outlining Nevada's methods for controlling mercury emissions from Gold Mines. See a copy of Mike's slideshow here.

Quicksilver Caucus Sends Letter to EPA on Mercury Thermometers

On March 10, 2011, the Quicksilver Caucus sent a letter to U.S. EPA through the Federal eRulemaking Portal supporting the agency's recent proposal to allow the discontinued use of mercury-containing thermometers in functions where mercury-free alternative thermometers serve as adequate substitutes.

Quicksilver Caucus Dental Amalgam Workgroup Sends Letter to EPA Water Office Summarizing Recent Input on Developing Guidelines

On March 8, 2011, the Quicksilver Caucus Dental Amalgam Workgroup sent a letter to Mary T. Smith of U.S. EPA's Office of Water to summarize recent input the group has provided on the developing effluent guidelines rulemaking for dental amalgam.

Mark Smith Appointed ECOS Lead for Quicksilver Caucus

ECOS President Richard Opper (Montana) has announced his appointment of Mark Smith (Massachusetts) as Lead ECOS Representative to the Quicksilver Caucus, effective Feb. 4. In this position, Mark will provide key leadership on mercury issues for the States.

Mark is the Deputy Director of Research and Standards at Massachusetts DEP. He has been an active member of the Quicksilver Caucus for several years and has served on its Leadership Team for more than three years. The appointment comes with the approval of DEP Commissioner Ken Kimmell.

Mark succeeds Ginger Jordan-Hillier (Maine) who served in the position for several months and helped to spearhead a number of successful mercury-related projects and policy resolutions for ECOS.

A special welcome goes to Mark as he begins to serve in his new role, and special thanks goes to Ginger for her years of leadership and service.

Quicksilver Caucus Urges U.S. State Department to Push for Strong International Mercury Treaty Reduction Targets and Product Bans

On Jan. 11, 2011, the Quicksilver Caucus sent a letter to Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Environment and Sustainable Development, Daniel Reifsnyder, to recommend that the U.S. delegation push for strong international mercury treaty reduction targets and product bans. The letter was sent in advance of U.N. negotiations expected to resume on Jan. 24, 2011.

Quicksilver Caucus Urges EPA to Lower the Definition Threshold for Major Air Mercury Sources

On Jan. 5, 2011, the Quicksilver Caucus sent a letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson urging the agency to lower the definition threshold for major air mercury sources to no more than 25 pounds per year.

Rep. Kucinich Thanks ECOS for Testifying on Dental Amalgam

On Dec. 17, 2010, Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) sent a letter to ECOS Executive Director Steve Brown thanking the association for providing testimony during the May 26 congressional hearing on dental amalgam. Rep. Kucinich notes that "[EPA had] issued a notice of mandatory control technology standards for dentist offices in 2010 after our hearing [had concluded]" and that "your insights and expertise were valuable and aided our work considerably." See a copy of the letter here.

EPA Responds to ECOS Letter Regarding Dental Amalgam Effluent Guidelines

On Oct. 19, 2010, ECOS received a letter from EPA Assistant Administrator for Water, Peter Silva, confirming the agency's announced plans to initiate an effluent guidelines rulemaking for dental facilities. The rulemaking will focus on the use of separators for reducing discharges of amalgam mercury. The letter responds to an ECOS letter sent in August urging the agency to take such action.

ECOS Sends Letter to Pete Silva on Effluent Guidelines and Dental Amalgam

On August 19, 2010, ECOS sent a letter to EPA Assistant Administrator for Water, Pete Silva, to urge that dental facilities be required to install and use seperator machinery to prevent amalgam mercury from entering sewer systems.

House to Hold Hearing on EPA's Efforts to Reduce Mercury Pollution from Amalgam

ECOS to Testify

The U.S. House of Representatives Oversight and Government Reform Committee Domestic Policy Subcommittee will hold a hearing on May 26, 2010 at 2pm Eastern on Assessing EPA's Efforts to Measure and Reduce Mercury Pollution from Dentist Offices. ECOS has been invited to testify. ECOS Executive Director, Steve Brown, will provide the testimony based on current ECOS positions and Quicksilver Caucus reports and recommendations. The hearing will be webcast live, and an archived copy of the video will be made available for viewing after the hearing has occurred-- see the Subcommittee's website for more information.

Steve Owens Sends Letter to ECOS on Mercury

On May 13, 2010, EPA Assistant Administrator for Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, Steve Owens, sent a letter to ECOS acknowledging receipt of Resolution #07-1 "Implementing a National Vision for Mercury." In the letter, Mr. Owens thanks ECOS for sending EPA the resolution and resolves to continue working with state agencies to address the mercury issue.

EPA Responds to Congressional Inquiry on Dental Amalgam Mercury

On January, 15, 2010, Rep. Dennis Kucinich and Rep. Diane Watson sent EPA a request for information regarding its efforts to reduce mercury pollution from dental amalgam. On April 5, 2010, Arvin Gavesan of EPA's Congressional Affairs Office provided a response.

Quicksilver Caucus Sends Comments to EPA on Proposed Effluent Guidelines

ECOS Says Dental Facilities Should Be Required to Adopt Best Management Practices

On March 31, the Quicksilver Caucus sent a letter commenting on EPA's proposed effluent guidelines. A copy of the letter is here.

A week before the letter was sent, the Environmental Council of the States (ECOS) passed a policy resolution on the matter. The resolution says, "WHEREAS, mercury from dental amalgam can be the single largest source of mercury for publicly owned treatment works and is a water quality discharge concern and a source of air pollution when sludge is incinerated or land applied. NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED THAT ECOS urges U.S. EPA to include dental facilities under the Health Care Sector for rulemaking in its Effluent Guidelines Program Plan and require adoption of best management practices that reduce mercury discharges to protect the environment. A copy of the ECOS resolution is here.

ECOS Passes Resolutions on Monitoring and for Implementing a National Vision for Mercury

Dental Facilities Should Be Required to Adopt Best Management Practices

During the Cross-Media Committee plenary session on March 24, 2010, the ECOS membership passed the following policy resolution (click link for resolution text):

Implementing a National Vision for Mercury

The resolution advocates that dental facilities should be required to adopt best management practices for mercury in amalgam.

In addition, during the Water Committee plenary session on March 24, 2010, the ECOS membership passed another resolution regarding:

Comprehensive National Mercury Monitoring

Quicksilver Caucus Submits Comments to FTC on CFL Labeling

On Dec. 28, 2009, the Quicksilver Caucus submitted comments to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regarding labeling of compact fluorescent lights (CFLs).

Amalgam Separator Manufacturer Gives Presentation to Quicksilver Caucus

On Oct. 14, 2009, Mr. Al Dube (Solmetex) gave a presentation to the Quicksilver Caucus via conference call regarding use of separator machinery to remove amalgam mercury from dental office discharges. Mr. Damon Highsmith (US EPA OW) also joined the call. Mr. Dube's slideshow is available here as well as a list of participants.

EPA and ATSDR Sponsor Mercury Public Service Announcement Video

The federal government has sponsored the release of a PSA video portraying mercury as dangerous for children. Here is a link to the video.

ECOS Passes Resolution Regarding Mercury Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs)

During the Water Committee plenary session on September 22, 2009, the ECOS membership passed a resolution regarding mercury TMDLs as recommended by the Quicksilver Caucus. Click link for resolution text:

The Need for a National Mercury Reduction Implementation Strategy and Global Actions to Further Progress on Atmospheric Mercury Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs)

Caucus Shares Concerns Regarding GM Withdrawal from Recycling Program

On Sept. 16, Quicksilver Caucus association leaders shared their concerns regarding General Motors' withdrawal from an important mercury vehicle switch recycling program in a letter to EPA, CEQ and the U.S. Treasury. Click here to view the letter.

EPA Agrees to Work with States to Investigate More Comprehensive Approaches for Reducing Mercury Pollution

On July 8, Acting Associate Administrator for US EPA OCIR, Joyce Frank, sent a letter to leaders of the ECOS Cross-Media Committee thanking them for their June 11 letter requesting that US EPA engage with the states to investigate more comprehensive approaches for reducing mercury in the environment. Click here to view the letter. Click here to view the original request.

2009 Mercury Science and Policy Conference to be Held in November

Dates have been set for the 2009 Mercury Science and Policy Conference. The conference will be held November 17- 18 in Chicago, Illinois. The conference is being organized by NEWMOA and is being co-sponsored by numerous organizations including Quicksilver Caucus and US EPA Regions 1 and 5. Several QSC members are serving on the conference Steering Committee. This year's event has a focus on the Northeast and Great Lakes regions (including the eastern Canadian provinces), but officials from all U.S. states are welcome and encouraged to attend. The Quicksilver Caucus hopes to be able to provide a limited number of travel scholarships to assist a’contingency of our members to attend. Click here for more information about the conference. Click here to view the Call for Presentations notice.

ECOS Passes Resolutions on Mercury and Federal Facility Cleanup Issues

During the Cross-Media Committee plenary session on March 23, 2009, the ECOS membership passed the following policy resolutions regarding mercury pollution and federal facility cleanup issues (click links for resolution texts):

Clarification of CERCLA Sovereign Immunity Waiver for Federal Facilities

Endorsement of the National Mercury Switch Recovery Program Memorandum of Agreement that Reduces Mercury in the Environment and Provides Flexibility to the States

Mercury Reduction, Stewardship, and Retirement

US EPA and Quicksilver Caucus Send Joint Letter to Thermostat Manufacturer

On Feb. 27, US EPA and the Quicksilver Caucus (QSC) sent a joint letter to Honeywell Incorporated in an effort to engage the company in further pollution prevention efforts. In particular, US EPA and QSC seek to work with Honeywell to decrease the sale of mercury-containing thermostats and increase collection of mercury from end-of-life thermostats. Click here to view a copy of the letter.

Quicksilver Caucus Publishes Status Report on the Vehicle Switch Program

The Quicksilver Caucus has released a status report on the National Vehicle Mercury Switch Recovery Program. Click here to view the report. *Please note-- on Feb. 26, ECOS revised this report to correct a previous error. This link now contains the revised final version of the report.

US EPA Responds to Quicksilver Caucus Regarding Dental Amalgam Mercury

On Jan. 15, 2009, the out-going Assistant Administrator for US EPA's Office of Water (OW), Benjamin Grumbles, sent a letter to the Quicksilver Caucus in response to the Caucus' Dec. 16, 2008 letter encouraging the agency to engage QSC in developing goals for reducing mercury releases from dental amalgam. In the letter, Mr. Grumbles cites a recent Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) US EPA has established with the National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA) and the American Dental Association (ADA) on this issue. Click here to view the letter. Click here to view the MOU.

Quicksilver Caucus members believe that state environmental agencies are a critical stakeholder on the amalgam mercury issue, and we believe that Quicksilver Caucus members should be invited to future meetings that US EPA hosts on the issue so that members can be kept abreast of the agency's plans and developments, and so members have opportunity to provide input. The Caucus has a meeting with US EPA OW scheduled for Jan. 22, 2009 to discuss these interests.

Quicksilver Caucus Sends Letter to US EPA on Dental Amalgam Mercury

On Dec. 16, 2008, the Quicksilver Caucus sent a letter to US EPA urging development of a national strategy for managing mercury in dental amalgam. Click here to view the letter.

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To view a list of Quicksilver Caucus members and leaders click here.



The current Quicksilver Caucus Action Plan may be viewed here. This Action Plan is intended to guide the work of the Caucus for June 2010 through Sept 2012.

As part of the Action Plan-- here is a list of key deliverables and QSC work projects expected to be completed between Nov 2011 and Sept 2012.

On May 14, 2010, EPA awarded a new cooperative-agreement grant to ECOS to support the planned activities of the Quicksilver Caucus for June 2010 through May 2011. The grant was signed on May 19, 2010. Supplemental grants were awarded on July 5, 2011 (signed July 20, 2011) and Sept 13, 2011 (signed Sept 22, 2011) to continue support for Quicksilver Caucus activities through Sept 2012.

On Nov 15, 2011, the Action Plan was edited to account for lower-than-expected budgets and other changing circumstances. This is a CLEAN version of the Action Plan. Here is a markup version showing edits.

Action Plans from Previous Years

The draft 2007-08 Action Plan and Implementation Strategy as of December 2006 describes actions and activities the QSC worked on in previous years.

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  • QSC has released a status report on the National Vehicle Mercury Switch Recovery Program. Click here to view the report. *Please note-- on Feb. 26, ECOS revised this report to correct a previous error. This link now contains the revised final version of the report.
  • On Feb. 6, QSC sent a letter to the U.S. State Department supporting stronger management of international transboundary mercury

  • On Tuesday, Nov. 18, the QSC held a webinar on the topic of dental amalgam mercury programming and state and local efforts to reduce loading of amalgam mercury to water systems via use of separator machinery. The webinar highlighted the White Paper the Quicksilver Caucus published earlier this year on the issue, along with various states experiences with the subject, as outlined in case studies also recently published by the Caucus. Organization and facilitation of the webinar was spearheaded by Becky Jayne (Illinois EPA) and other members of the QSC Dental Amalgam Work Group. The webinar was delivered to an audience of dental clinic regulators and publicly-owned treatment works (POTWs) and state officials. During the webinar, Dr. Mark Smith (Massachusetts DEP) gave a presentation highlighting general issues related to dental amalgam mercury management noting that approximately 50% of mercury input into sewage comes from dental amalgam. Dr. Smith noted that eleven (11) states now have rules requiring use of amalgam separator machinery. Peter Berglund (Metropolitan Council Environmental Services/ Saint Paul, Minnesota) gave the audience tips on how to administer amalgam separator programs. Also, Christine Barnes (New York DEC) presented New York state's dental amalgam waste management standards (including details on their separator installation and certification standards). Maria Peeler (Washington DOE) explained Washington state's experience with the issue, and also gave a presentation focusing on the King County (Washington) amalgam management program. Ginger Jordan-Hillier (Maine DEP) also was on hand to answer questions about Maine The webinar was attended by over 60 state and local government officials from across the country. Due to its success, the Quicksilver Caucus is considering holding another webinar at a future date on the topic of amalgam regulation for a target audience of state policy-makers.
  • On Oct. 29, 2008, Mr. James Werntz (US EPA Region 10) gave a presentation to the Quicksilver Caucus on the Mercury Policy and Programming of US EPA Region 10. Click here to view Mr. Werntz's presentation.
  • The Quicksilver Caucus published the Dental Mercury Amalgam Waste Management White Paper to share information about state and local government programs that address dental mercury amalgam. *Please note- a limited number of hard copies of this paper were published in April 2008. Since then, a minor mistake on Page 2 of the paper was discovered and corrected. The version of this paper accessible here by hyperlink is the final corrected version of the Quicksilver Caucus Dental Mercury Amalgam Waste Management White Paper.
  • In May, the Quicksilver Caucus published the Case Studies of Five Dental Mercury Amalgam Separator Programs as a document to complement the Dental Mercury Amalgam Waste Management White Paper that was published in April.
  • ECOS published a Green Report titled State Actions for Managing Mercury in the Environment (April 2008). The report was an effort to provide updated information regarding state mercury activities following on the heels of the last such compendium published in October 2005 (see section on 2005 activities below).
  • Since the EPA published the Electric Arc Furnace Area Source Rule for Steelmaking Facilities in December 2007, there are new requirements related to mercury of which state and local agencies need to be aware. To help with that, the Quicksilver Caucus has published a new document: Electric Arc Furnace Area Source Rule Mercury Requirements Factsheet for State and Local Agencies

The Quicksilver Caucus published the Mercury-Added Product White Paper (November 2006).

QSC published a paper titled Mercury Product Labeling - Information for States (March 2006).


The Quicksilver Caucus published the 2005 Compendium of States' Mercury Activities(October 2005).

QSC published a paper titled Removing Mercury Switches from Vehicles - A Pollution Prevention Opportunity for States (August 2005).

In January 2001, ECOS published Mercury in the Environment: States Respond to the Challenge-- A Compendium of State Mercury Activities. This was the first such compendium developed, and it was published prior to the founding of the Quicksilver Caucus.