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E-M:/ Legislature Bans Mercury Products

For Immediate Release: December 13, 2006

Contact:                 Kate Madigan, Michigan Environmental Council, 517-487-9539

                                Erin McDonough, Michigan United Conservation Clubs, 517-346-6475



Bi-partisan Legislation Can Help Reduce Mercury on a Global Scale

Groups Urge Governor to Sign Bills into Law


Lansing- Michigan Environmental Council (MEC) and Michigan United Conservation Clubs (MUCC) applaud the Michigan House today as they acted quickly and decisively to pass bi-partisan legislation that would ban products containing mercury in Michigan. The bills now head to the Governor’s desk.


Over 3500 metric tons of mercury is used globally each year in switches, relays and measuring devices, most of which have cost effective and readily available alternatives.  Michigan’s legislature has recognized the need to remove these unnecessary sources of mercury by taking a first step in banning the sale of thermostats, blood pressure cuff devices and esophageal dilators that contain mercury.


“We are thankful to have leaders in our state like Senators Patty Birkholz, Ron Jelinek and Liz Brater who understand the importance of keeping our fishing holes clean and our fish healthy,” says Sam Washington, Executive Director of Michigan United Conservation Clubs.  “Mercury is a serious problem and it’s not a new problem.  We’ve known about the dangers and now it’s time to stop talking about solutions and start implementing them.”


According to a 2006 study released by ERA Technologies, seemingly small steps, like banning products containing mercury in one state, can have a large effect on today’s global market.  As more states and regions ban the use of certain types of products, the economic viability of producing those products decreases.  Michigan’s product bans may not appear to be monumental, but when added to similar bans in other states across the U.S., they become part of a powerful movement that will help drive industry to produce and develop non-mercury products and alternatives world-wide.


“Today is a great step forward for mercury reduction in Michigan.  Protecting the health and welfare of our families from unnecessary mercury use is critical to ensuring that our children and children’s children will grow up in a safe and healthy environment,” says Kate Madigan, Deputy Policy Director of the Michigan Environmental Council and new mother.  “We must continue to phase out more unnecessary uses of mercury and will be calling on the legislature to act next session.”


Mercury is a potent neurotoxin that can hinder brain development and cause neurological problems and is especially dangerous to infants, children and pregnant women.  When mercury is released into the environment it falls onto our rivers, lakes, farmlands and forests.  Once on land or in water, bacteria can convert it to methylmercury, an organic form that builds up in the food chain.  Top predator fish such as walleye, bass, and northern pike can have concentrations millions of times higher than surrounding waters. 


To safely dispose of thermostats, blood pressure measuring devices, and other products containing mercury, Michigan residents should visit www.michigan.gov/mda/0,1607,7-125-2961_6860_24909---,00.html or call 1-800-662-9278 to find a collection site in their area.



Kate Madigan

Deputy Policy Director

Michigan Environmental Council

517-487-3606 x22