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E-M:/ Senate passes mercury thermometer bill

Title: Senate passes mercury thermometer bill


Contact: Mary Beth Doyle, Ecology Center, 734-663-2400 ext 108.

The Michigan Senate today passed HB 4599, banning the sale of mercury thermometers. Upon House enrollment and Governor Engler's signature, Michigan would become the 9th state in the country to pass such legislation.

"We commend Representative Jack Minore (D) of Flint for his leadership role in the successful passage of this bill. The bill is an important first step in reducing the amount of mercury released into Michigan's environment from consumer products," said Mary Beth Doyle, Campaign Director of the Ecology Center.

The ban is consistent with many national mercury elimination initiatives in healthcare. In 1998, the Environmental Protection Agency and the American Hospital Association signed a memorandum of understanding with a goal of virtually eliminating mercury from healthcare.

"Mercury thermometers pose an unnecessary risk to our environment and our children.   Accurate and affordable non-mercury thermometers are readily available." said Pierre Gonyon, chair of the Michigan Health and Hospital Association's Hospitals for a Healthy Environment Committee. "Many hospitals across Michigan have already eliminated the use of mercury-containing products."

Mercury attacks the central nervous system and can cause tremors, impaired vision and hearing, developmental deficits during fetal development, attention deficit, and developmental delays during childhood. Fetuses and children under the age of six are especially vulnerable to mercury's effects.

Mercury released into the environment accumulates in the muscle tissue of fish and mammals. Mercury contamination has prompted fish consumption advisories in 40 U.S. states. The Michigan Department of Community Health has issued fish consumption advisories for every inland lake in Michigan due to mercury contamination.

Mercury spills should be cleaned up promptly and properly. Mercury should be picked up using an index card or piece of tape. Never vacuum up a mercury spill. This only disperses the mercury into the air, where it can be breathed in. The mercury, and all of the tools used to clean it, should to be taken to the Household Hazardous Waste drop off station for proper disposal.

For more detailed clean up instructions, call Poison Control at 1-800-POISON 1, or read the brochure "Mercury Thermometers and Your Family's Health," available by calling the Ecology Center at 734-761-3186 and on the Health Care Without Harm website at www.noharm.org.


Mary Beth Doyle, MPH
Environmental Health Project
Ecology Center
117 N. Division
Ann Arbor MI 48104

734-663-2400 ext 108
734-663-2414 (fax)