A key U.S. House Committee today adopted an amendment offered by Congressman Dennis Kucinich to H.R. 5504, which requires USDA to inform schools and those in WIC programs to avoid higher mercury fish. “There is no reason for the government to help kids grow up healthy with one hand while impairing them with the other,” said Kucinich. In addition, MPP and Got Mercury! recently filed comments on the USDA’s draft Committee Report , outlining steps to reduce mercury exposure.
Thirty academic scientists, medical doctors and consumer advocates wrote to FDA and EPA last Friday, urging them to strengthen the Federal fish consumption advisory for mercury and also to do a better job of warning consumers. “Recent research shows that both beneficial effects of fish nutrients and harm from mercury exposure occur in a baby’s developing brain when a pregnant woman eats ordinary amounts of fish,” said Edward Groth III, PhD, a Mercury Policy Project science consultant. “There is no evidence of a threshold for the harmful effects of mercury, and even the amount in a single can of tuna should probably be avoided.”
World governments today completed the first step towards a mercury treaty, issuing a meeting report and providing the basis for developing treaty text for INC2 in Japan in January 2011, according to ZMWG and press reports. NGOs lauded W.H.O. for supporting mercury reductions. “We applaud W.H.O.’s statement to stop production of skin cosmetics containing mercury, as they are an exposure risk worldwide ,” said MPP director Bender. “We welcome W.H.O’s interest in “phasing down” amalgam, which is reflective of the WHO meeting last fall, and consistent with what NGOs wrote to WHO on.” This may be of interest in the US as FDA decided yesterday to review amalgam risks.
Today, a Japanese official proposed that the treaty be signed in Minamata, as their Prime Minister proposed earlier. Takeshi Yasuma, of Citizens Against Chemicals Pollution, responded, outlining steps and then concluding that the best way to show respect for Minimata is “…by substantial actions for a strong global treaty that eliminates all human sources of mercury.”
June 9 Update- NGOs made a number of interventions, including ZMWG opening statement; ZMWG-IPEN statement on the treaty framework and waste issues (in response to a Basel Convention document); compliance; monitoring; storage; and mercury reduction in products, processes and ASGM.
June 7 Update- As negotiations start, a global NGO coalition today called on governments to curb mercury pollution worldwide. A ZMWG Exhibition provided information on mercury and our position papers.
June 6 Update- UNEP held a briefing on mercury issues and a WHO-HCWH report was presented on reducing mercury in health care. In the afternoon, the ZMWG organised an NGO training on how to use a LUMEX.
June 3 – The first Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC) begins negotiating a mercury treaty next week, funded by the Nordic Council and discussed on YouTube. ZMWG prepared partial concept treaty text, a treaty framework, an ASGM thought starter, and observations on UNEP documents.
The U.S. House Government Oversight Subcommittee on Domestic Policy held a hearing on Wednesday, May 26 on “Assessing EPA’s Efforts To Measure And Reduce Mercury Pollution From Dentist Offices.” At the hearing, MPP presented its testimony and a new report, “Midnight Deal on Dental Mercury.” Several online services reported on the meeting and/or MPP’s report. Testifying at the hearing were EPA, the American Dental Association, an amalgam separator manufacturer, a scientist and MPP’. Earlier, EPA had responded to an letter from Domestic Policy Subcommittee Chairman Dennis Kucinich regarding air releases and the Agency’s MOU with the ADA on dental mercury releases. In response, MPP wrote a letter to Chairman Kucinich, to clarify the record regarding our “stakeholder” role.
MPP launched a new website — www.mercuryfactsandfish.org — to counter misinformation on ‘mercury facts’ spread by groups claiming to represent consumers – but in reality often representing special interests. “So-called ‘consumer groups’ purporting to provide ‘mercury facts’ are often engaged in doing just the opposite,” said MPP director Bender. The web resource, presented by Dr. Edward Groth III,, offers information, including a guide to mercury leves in seafood to minimize exposure.
A new study finds that tuna accounts for over one-third of total methlymercury exposure from seafood consumption which was a key finding in the April 2010 edition of Environmental Research by Dr. Edward Groth III, an MPP consultant. “Canned tuna is the number one fish consumed in the U.S. today,” said MPP director Bender. “It is also the number one mercury exposure risk.” The study found that two-thirds of the seafood and nine of the 11 most consumed fish are low in mercury, as one can see in this chart. In addition, new research appearing in Biology Letters today “…provides insights into healthier consumption, using “….DNA as a tool to uncover patterns of species-specific bioaccumulation.”
MPP worked extensively with Boston Common Asset Management, LLC, and other stakeholder representatives, in discussions with Dentsply, a major U.S. manufacturer of amalgam, in withdrawal of a stakeholder resolution, in return for Dentsply acknowledging that: 1) mercury from amalgam are released into the environment, 2) Dentsply offers alternatives to amalgam that dentists should consider using; 3) Dentsply will encourage dentist to reduce mercury releases; and 4) continue dialoguing to better understand amalgam impacts and then determine appropriate actions.
The Washington Legislature passed a bill, EESB 5543, which requires lightbulb manufacturers to finance a statewide recycling program for lights containing mercury, including compact florescent light (CFLS). The producer-pays aspect of this bill is based on product stewardship. The recycling program will take effect on January 1st, 2013. For more detail, see press releases from King County and Washington Citizens for Resource Conservation and Northwest Energy Coalition.
Environmentalists laud proposed Amendment 541 of the ENVI Committee report for providing targeted consumer safety labeling for methylmercury in fish for pregnant women and children in the European Union. Amendment 541 adds labeling of the mercury content in meat from large predatory fish or foodstuffs containing meat from these fish species. The amendment would read: “contains methylmercury- not recommended for pregnant or breastfeeding women, women who might become pregnant, and children” and be added immediately after the list of ingredients. In absence of a list of ingredients, the statement would accompany the name of the food. The first reading vote on this amendment will be held next week.