THE Consumer Council is testing shoes with flashing lights in the heels following a report in the Post that they contain the hazardous metal mercury. And the Environmental Protection Department said the company concerned should collect the old shoes and take them out of Hong Kong for disposal, since there were no facilities in the territory to recycle the dangerous metal. LA Lights, trainers with lights that flash as the wearer moves, have been banned from the shelves in parts of the United States due to concerns that the mercury will get into the environment after the shoes are thrown away. About 80,000 pairs of the shoes, half of which are thought to contain the mercury switches, have been sold in the territory, according to the sales agent, a joint venture firm between Inchcape Pacific and US shoemaker LA Gear. And despite the launch of a collection programme in the US, no such programme is planned in Hong Kong, according to Inchcape. Yesterday, Consumer Council chief research and testing officer Connie Lau Win-hing said her department had bought a pair of the shoes for testing. ''Our concerns are environmental protection and whether the switch can be taken out easily by the child,'' she said. The mercury switch is enclosed in a moulded plastic capsule in the shoe heel and can be removed using a knife. The capsule contains the mercury - which completes the electrical connection by flowing between the contacts during movement, a pair of lights and a battery, which has a four-month guarantee. Depending on the test results, the council might try to persuade parent US company LA Gear to launch a recycling scheme or even lobby the Government to ban the shoes' from being imported, she said. Principal environmental protection officer Paul Holmes said it would be best if LA Gear ''took them back to California'' since ''there's nobody in Hong Kong interested in taking mercury waste''. ''We'd rather they hadn't made the shoes with mercury, it was a silly thing to do,'' he said. But the EPD would not encourage the agent to collect the shoes and then present them to the department for disposal as chemical waste, since there was not enough special landfill space for them, he said. Trade and Industry Branch spokesman Paul Brown said no complaints had been received regarding the import of the shoes, and their trade was not restricted as they were not listed under the toy and children's products safety rules. ''If there were complaints we would act upon them,'' he said. Product manager of Inchcape division Megastride, Andy Hau Ka-hau, said at the weekend that the company was replacing the mercury switches with a ball-bearing system. But he admitted that the latest batch bought from the US in July had contained a few of the mercury shoes.