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E-M:/ CAW to Negotiate Mercury Elimination

------------------------------------------------------------------------- Enviro-Mich message from Citizens Environment Alliance ------------------------------------------------------------------------- For Immediate Release

CAW to Negotiate Mercury Elimination

Windsor, Ontario

Cathy Walker, CAW National Director of Health and Safety, at a public meeting hosted by the Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) on January 17, 2002, announced that her Union would put the issue of the elimination of mercury from convenience lighting switches in automobiles on the bargaining table this fall.

Mercury is a potent toxic chemical that causes brain, lung and kidney damage in humans. The substance has been used in switches for hood and trunk convenience lighting, and in other devices, becoming a contaminant when vehicles are scrapped.

Automobiles are one of North America’s largest sources of toxic mercury emissions.

“This is a big achievement in the effort to have mercury eliminated from automobiles,” said Shawn Hupka, President of the Citizens Environment Alliance.  Hupka challenged the CAW to negotiate an end to the use of mercury in convenience lighting switches in automobiles built by CAW members, prompting Ms. Walker’s announcement.

“Good for the CAW.  They’re taking a leadership role on this issue.  I think this will hasten the total elimination of mercury from all cars manufactured in North America,” continued Hupka.

Based on the industry's own estimates for quantities used in vehicles in 1995, approximately ten tons of mercury annually is unaccounted for; it is likely emitted when vehicles are scrapped or recycled.

Convenience lighting switches in automobiles contain a mercury bubble that activates the light switch as the hood or trunk lid is opened. According to researchers at the Clean Car Campaign (http://www.cleancarcampaign.org/mercury.html), a switch activated by a ball bearing will do the job just as well, at a cost of about 8 to 10 cents more.

For more information call….

Shawn Hupka, President of the Citizens Environment Alliance, (519) 973-1116
Canadian Auto Workers National Office Phone: (416) 497-4110  -or-  1-800-268-5763


                                      Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) recent Resolution on Mercury

                                      RESOLUTION ON THE ELIMINATION OF
                                      THE USE OF MERCURY IN AUTOMOBILES
                                     (April 2001)

                                      WHEREAS: The production of switches and wiring
                                      in automobiles account for 110 tons of mercury
                                      (1999); and

                                      WHEREAS: This is an increase in usage over the
                                      levels of 1990; and

                                      WHEREAS: The known detriments to the health and
                                      well-being of human beings range from effects on the
                                      nervous system and the developing fetus, to other
                                      forms of mercury exposure that can damage organs;

                                      WHEREAS: At low levels, mercury can begin to
                                      cause harm before symptoms arise. Mercury
                                      poisoning can include tremors, changes in vision or
                                      hearing, insomnia, weakness, difficulty with memory,
                                      headache, irritability, shyness and nervousness and a
                                      health condition called acrodynia; and

                                      WHEREAS: Pregnant women and their fetuses are
                                      especially vulnerable to the toxic effects of metallic
                                      mercury because it readily passes from the placenta
                                      to the fetus.

                                      THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED: That CAW
                                      Council call upon automakers to eliminate the use of
                                      mercury in the manufacture of wiring and switches in
                                      their vehicles; and

                                      BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED: That CAW
                                      Council call upon automakers to take the
                                      responsibility to remove and properly manage the
                                      disposal of mercury based switches and wiring and
                                      replace with safer alternatives of all current
                                      vehicles. Automobile manufacturers must disclose
                                      historical use of mercury in vehicles; and

                                      BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED: That CAW
                                      Council call upon automakers to phase out other uses
                                      of mercury in vehicles on a time table comparable to
                                      the requirements outlined in the E.U.'s end of life
                                      vehicles directive; and

                                      BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED: That until the
                                      complete elimination of the use of mercury - based
                                      products in automobiles is satisfied, all automakers
                                      shall label all new vehicles for mercury-based
                                      products, clearly identifying the vehicles, as well as
                                      the mercury-containing part.

Citizens Environment Alliance of southwestern Ontario and southeast Michigan
275 Oak Avenue, Windsor, Ontario, N9A 5E5, CANADA
U.S. (Mail only): 25443 Ridgewood Dr., Farmington Hills, MI, 48336
phone: (519) 973-1116
fax: (519) 973-8360

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