New California regulations require manufacturers to ensure recycling of an increasing percentage of thermostats or risk facing an enforcement order which could require costly fixes, according to news sources. “This is a watershed moment when it comes to this particular product and collection,” said David Lennett, senior attorney at the NRDC. Laws in Illinois and Rhode Island require similar rulemakings during 2014, Lennett blogged.
At the annual meeting of the #2 U.S. amalgam manufacturer, a broad-based coalition of community, faith-based, and environmental groups called on Dentsply International to cease making amalgam. The speakers unveiled a letter from 23 organizations from Pennsylvania, around the nation, and from six continents — including several religious orders — calling for Dentsply to set a timetable to phase-out mercury amalgam, according to news reports. Shareholders also similarly weighed in.
There was news coverage today of a letter sent last month by 40 scientists and NGOs, urging HHS Secretary Sebelius to expedite release of an updated consumer advisory. “This policy update needs to be sent out for comment to ensure it’s in line with the latest science.” said MPP Director Bender. Several months ago, Sebelius assured 22 US Senators that “…completing the updated advisory remains a priority for the Administration,” in response to an earlier letter from the senators to President Obama about the 2010 Dietary Guidelines. Yet scientists pointed out to Sebelius in 2011 how they were flawed. To separate the facts from the ‘fishy’ fables, see: http://mercuryfactsandfish.org/.
A manufacturer-run program for collecting mercury thermostats is failing to keep the toxic heavy metal out of the the environment, according to a new report, Turning Up the HeatII , released today. The report estimates that the industry recycling program has captured only 8% of mercury thermostats over the past decade, resulting in over 50 tons of mercury into the environment. “Companies that profited from the sale of mercury thermostats are shirking their responsibilities,” said MPP Bender in a statement that received extensive media coverage.
After four years of deliberation, a new global regime rises today that will govern toxic mercury worldwide. “Adoption of a global legal agreement on mercury is a major accomplishment,” said Michael T. Bender, co-coordinator of the Zero Mercury Working Group in an overview and a press release. “Yet the instrument is hampered by weak controls on mercury emissions from major sources like coal-fired power plants.” For more details, see a short summary of the key articles of the treaty. A more extensive summary explains more details along with some media coverage.
While no dental amalgam phase out date has been set, during the negotiations that led to the new treaty on mercury, article 6 on products in Annex C Part II, requires countries to take steps to phase down dental mercury globally. “This is the beginning of the end of dental amalgam globally,” said Michael T. Bender, MPP director, in a press release in English and Francais, which received international coverage. “We applaud the leadership role the US played in jump-starting support for a phase down in 2011 along with the concrete phase out activities in the Nordic countries, Switzerland and Japan in phasing out amalgam.”
As delegates from 117 countries concluded the second round of negotiations for a legally binding treaty on mercury, they welcomed Japan’s offer to host the 2013 diplomatic conference in Minamata where the convention will be signed, due to the unprecedented mercury epidemic in the 1950’s. However, NGOs from around the world urged them to truly honor Minimata by agreeing to adopt strong measures. “If the world’s governments really want to call this the “Minamata Treaty,” then they should back up their words with meaningful actions,” said Takeshi Yasuma, of Citizens Against Chemicals Pollution, a Japanese NGO, who worked closely with Minamata groups in raising awareness at the meeting and through the news media reports.
Although delegates generally agreed on a proposed basic framework for mercury reductions, they left most all substantive issues unresolved. According to a ZMWG statement, governments now need to exert strong leadership to: monitor and reduce emissions from coal-fired power stations and other industry and industry; phase out existing mercury mining and management of stored quantities; the classification and management of mercury waste; and critical also is resolving financial aspects of the future convention. After reviewing and summarizing comments on the draft UNEP framework document, interventions were made by ZMWG and other NGOs and recommended: expanding the list of mercury-based products and processes to be regulated under the treaty, providing explicit time lines for phase outs, reducing mercury content in lamps, and strengthening provisions on artisanal and small-scale gold mining, the largest mercury use in the world, among many others.
Environmental NGOs welcome the new European Commission’s decision to reduce the maximum mercury content in certain energy efficient lamps.“This decision now firmly establishes a global precedent that others should follow,” said MPP director Michael Bender. “The new RoHS mercury standards promise to transform the lighting industry on a global scale,” said Alicia Culver, Director of the Responsible Purchasing Network and Co-Coordinator of the Green Lighting Campaign. “Workers will be better protected because these lower limits can generally only be reached by accurate and encapsulated (metered) dosing systems. Consumers will also face a lower health risk if a fluorescent lamp breaks in their home or office.” “Many more types of lamps will require a reduction in their mercury content and the limits are much lower for those covered before. We are particularly pleased with the lowest limit introduced (2.5 mg Hg/lamp) for commonly used compact fluorescent lamps, “ said Elena Lymberidi-Settimo, EEB Zero Mercury Project Coordinator.
For more information, see:
Decision 2010/571, amending the Annex of the Directive on Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) in electrical and electronic equipment, 2002/95
, http://eurlex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2010:251:0028:0034:EN:PDF and corrigendum http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriSer/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2010:254:0048:0048:EN:PDF
Today, environmental groups applauded EPA’s announcement proposing a new rule requiring dentists to reduce mercury pollution. “Dentists are the largest polluter of mercury to wastewater,” said MPP director Bender in a statement . “We welcome EPA’s proposal to end the Bush-era midnight deal allowing dentists to pollute until they enacted voluntary pollution prevention initiatives – which never substantially materialized.” MPP also expressed its appreciation to Congressman Dennis Kucinich and staff for their efforts in hosting three hearings since 2007 to draw attention to the importance of the issue, including their latest press release.