Maine Law Requires Lamp Makers to Pay for Recycling

Today, the Natural Resources Counsel of Maine (NRCM), the Green Lighting Campaign, and the Multi-State Mercury Products Campaign celebrate the passage of LD 973, “An Act to Provide for the Safe Collection and Recycling of Mercury-Containing Light Bulbs.”  Passage of this “model” lamp legislation, which requires bulb manufacturers to share the costs and responsibility of recycling mercury-containing light bulbs, sets a precedent that the Multi-State Mercury Products Campaign intends to press for other states to follow. “Final passage of the lamps legislation will send a clear message out nationally (and globally) that a new day is dawning for total life cycle management and shared responsibility– from ‘the cradle to the grave’ for products containing mercury and other hazardous substances,” said MPP Director Bender in a statement.  For additional information, see the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators website.

Conference Demonstrates Feasibility of Mercury-free Hospitals

Environmental and health NGOs, including EEB, ZMWG and HCWH, released a report today at their conference in Brussels clearly demonstrating that the transition to mercury-free measuring devices including sphygmomanometers in hospitals is technologically and economically feasible. The European Commission is in the process of reviewing the availability of reliable safer mercury-free alternatives and if appropriate, will present a legislative proposal to extend restrictions for relevant identified uses by October 2009.

“Switching to mercury-free sphygmos should not cause any problems in terms of clinical diagnosis and monitoring. In fact it should improve the accuracy of blood pressure measurement in clinical settings,” (see press release) said Peter Orris, MD, a Professor at the University of Illinois in Chicago, a WHO Collaborating Center in Occupational and Environmental Health and speaker at today’s conference. Many hospitals in the EU have already implemented this change since suitable mercury-free alternatives are currently available on the market.

EPA Asked to Set New Mercury Reduction Standards for the Dental Industry

MPP sent the attached letter from numerous national and state environmental, health and consumer groups to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson on the EPA-ADA dental mercury Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).  In the letter, groups urge Jackson to consider terminating the MOU–which was adopted during the waning days of the Bush Administration–in favor of national goal-based mercury reduction standards for the U.S. dental industry.  The letter notes that EPA has had a history under the previous Administration of ignoring the significant discharge of mercury by the dental community and that Congressional hearings have failed to elicit sufficient recognition of the dental mercury problem or steps necessary to remedy them by the Agency (see government reports from 2008 and 2007.)  In fact, information provided by MPP to Congress clearly indicates that dental mercury releases are far greater than previously thought.

While Congress had asked the prior EPA Administrator for a response to the findings of the Congressional hearings, the Agency thus far to our knowledge has not adequately responded or clearly recognized the significance of the Congressional findings.

MPP and Green Lighting Campaign Submit Comments to DOE

Today, the Green Lighting Campaign along with others submitted comments in response to the DOE’s proposed Energy Conservation Standards for General Service Fluorescent Lamps and Incandescent Reflector Lamps.

We are concerned that this proposed rule will allow a significant amount of outdated lighting equipment to continue to be sold in the US marketplace even though more energy-efficient, cost-effective replacements are readily available.  At a minimum, according to our comments, the DOE should adopt lighting-efficiency standards at least as stringent and broad in scope as those adopted under the European Union’s Eco-Design Standards for Energy Using Products (EuP) Directive.

Failure to do so will place the US further behind on demonstrated leadership regarding climate change and other related environmental policy issues,” said  Alicia Culver of the Green Purchasing Institute and Co-Coordinatorof the Green Lighting Campaign.  “Moreover, adoption of the current proposal will run the risk of turning the US into a dumping ground for inferior lighting products that do not meet the EU’s stronger energy-efficiency requirements.”

Asian Coal Plants Linked to 30% Increase in Pacific Ocean Water Mercury Levels

Recent analysis of ocean water samples across the Pacific point to Asian coal plants as the likely source of dramatic increases total mercury levels in the North Pacific Ocean over the last 20 years.  If present trends continue, the U.S. Geological Survey report  projects a doubling of oceanic mercury concentrations by the year 2050.  Oceanic mercury is converted to MethylMercury by algae, and then bioaccumulates up the food chain as algae is eaten by fish.  Fish harvested from the Pacific Ocean are a major contributor to human MethylMercury exposure, which is why scientists are focusing on the important health and ecological concern of the source of the oceanic mercury.  For more inforamtion see highlights on the USGS website.