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>New Law Includes Nation's First-Ever Ban on Mercury Thermostats
>Governor Kitzhaber today signed into law a bill to phase out the use
>of mercury, a dangerous environmental contaminant, in certain
>commonly-used products. The bill, HB 3007, includes the first phase
>out of mercury thermostats in the nation. The bill also prohibits
>the sale of fever thermometers, novelty products and automotive
>light switches with mercury.
>The Oregon Environmental Council (OEC) crafted the legislation in
>coordination with business, health and other leaders. "The
>unnecessary use of mercury in these products unnecessarily threatens
>the health of all Oregonians, especially our children," said Laura
>Weiss, Pesticides and Toxics Program Director for the Oregon
>Environmental Council. "Eliminating the use of mercury-added
>products will prevent a significant amount of mercury pollution."
>Mercury is a persistent and toxic pollutant, which stays in the
>environment for decades and increases in concentration as it moves
>up the food chain. Even in small quantities, mercury causes
>significant health and ecological problems, including learning
>disabilities in children. Mercury is most dangerous to children and
>pregnant women. Unborn children can be seriously impacted even when
>the chemical causes no symptoms in their mothers.
>People are most directly exposed to mercury through eating
>contaminated fish. When mercury products are tossed in the trash, or
>broken and washed down the drain, mercury finds its way into water,
>and accumulates in fish and other living things. The Oregon Health
>Division has issued fish consumption advisories for nine water
>bodies, including the entire mainstem of the Willamette River, due
>to mercury contamination.
>"One household thermometer or one automotive light switch has enough
>mercury in it to contaminate a 20-acre lake beyond health
>standards," said Matt Blevins, Legislative Affairs Director for OEC.
>"Mercury is too toxic to be 'managed' -- this is a case where the
>only safe level is zero."
>The legislation will also ensure the recovery and recycling of
>mercury from thermostats and automotive light switches. An estimated
>800 pounds of mercury enters Oregon's waste stream each year just
>from thermometers, thermostats and auto switches.
>HB 3007, which was originally HB 2816 and sponsored by
>Representatives Jeff Merkley (D-Portland) and Bill Witt (R-Cedar
>Mill), was co-sponsored by 37 other legislators from both parties.
>HB 3007 will also phase out the sale of automobiles with mercury
>light switches. Scrapped automobiles are a significant source of
>mercury emissions. Unless the switches are removed first, the
>mercury is released into the environment when the cars are crushed
>for scrap metal.
>Mercury can cause central nervous system damage, kidney problems,
>learning disabilities and other problems in humans. It impairs fetal
>development, preventing the brain and nervous system from developing
>normally. Children poisoned by mercury show lowered intelligence,
>impaired hearing and poor coordination. In addition, their verbal
>and motor skills may be delayed.
>A recent report by the Center for Disease Control found that 1 in 10
>women of childbearing age have levels of mercury so high that small
>increases in their exposure to mercury while pregnant could
>jeopardize the health of their baby.
>Laura Weiss, 503-222-1963 x 111
>Matt Blevins, 503-222-1963 x103

Margaret Nover
Pollution Prevention Program
City of Portland, Oregon
(503) 823-7623
Fax: (503) 823-6995

Visit this website:  http://www.enviro.ci.portland.or.us/p2