After a long series of delays, US EPA finally announced that it is establishing, in consort with other federal partners, a stakeholder panel process to provide the U.S. government with a range of options for better managing non-federal mercury supplies. As part of this process, the panel will hold a series of public meetings over a six-month period beginning with the first meeting in Washington, D.C., on May 8. The charge to the panel is to consider: 1 ) how the various stocks of mercury should be managed both in the short-term and the long-term, and 2 ) how current and future supply and demand affect this determination for each of the various stocks. As a starting point, EPA has distributed a background paper. The public can also provide written comments on the issues the stakeholder panel. When sending in comments, mention that the Docket Identification Number is EPA-HQ-OPPT-2007-0148. More information about the stakeholder panel and the EPA “Roadmap for Mercury ” is available on the EPA web site.
Scientists from around the world are warning people about the health risks posed by eating mercury contaminated fish. Children and women of childbearing age are being told to be extra careful, since the risks are greatest to sensitive populations. The alarming findings are revealed in “The Madison Declaration on Mercury Pollution” published today in a special issue of the international science journal Ambio. Developed at the Eighth International Conference on Mercury as a Global Pollutant last August in Madison, Wisconsin, the declaration is a synopsis of the latest scientific knowledge about the danger posed by mercury pollution.
Following reports that the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) will not allow sales of high mercury canned tuna into the Canadian market, MPP is calling on the U.S. Food & Drug Administration to do the same. “FDA’s own testing indicates that some albacore canned tuna has very high mercury levels comparable to those found in Canada,” said MPP Director Michael Bender. “However, the agency has done nothing to prevent high mercury tuna from ending up in our children’s sandwiches or our dinner plates.” A recent national news report in Canada indicated that 8 out of 60 cans of albacore tuna exceeded the Government of Canada’s guidelines of 0.5 parts per million for mercury. In a follow up review, CFIA determined that 5 of the 60 cans tested (8%) exceeded the standard of 0.5ppm. In response, the CFIA has contacted tuna importers to ensure that incoming shipments of canned albacore tuna are tested. CFIA is also reminding governments of the top exporting countries, including the U.S., and domestic Canadian importers of the importance of meeting Canadian requirements. “According to recent testing, some light canned tuna also has high mercury levels that surpass 0.5 ppm mercury,” said Bender. “Unfortunately, FDA has not followed up on this either.”
Advocates applauded the work of a Vermont House Committee which passed out two important bills on mercury that will significantly reduce pollution. The first requires dentists to have patients sign a consent form before receiving any procedure involving mercury amalgam, which informs them of the potential hazards to human health. The second requires a $5 cash incentive be provided by the manufacturer to contractors that turn in mercury-containing thermostats for recycling. “Informed consent will empower Vermonters to just say no to mercury amalgam, and in the process this will help reduce mercury pollution,” said MPP director Bender in a statement. “It also provides patients with the same information that many dentists have already received from manufacturers, which states that ‘The use of amalgam in contraindicated…In children 6 and under….(and)…. in expectant mothers‘”. The news was picked up in a Vermont newspaper.