(OLYMPIA)- Auto recyclers in Washington have collected more than 200,000 light switches containing toxic mercury from scrap vehicles since 2006. This has prevented 445 pounds of the toxic chemical from entering the environment. The state Ecology department partners with auto recyclers and manufacturers to remove the switches from under the cars’ hoods and trunks. This prevents mercury from escaping into the environment when the vehicles are crushed and later melted down for re-use. Mercury can evaporate into the air and then be deposited into water and soil. Children and fetuses are the most vulnerable to the effects of mercury. Exposure can affect learning and behavior later in life.