Great Lakes States Seek to Reduce Mercury in Consumer Products

The Great Lakes Regional Collaboration (GLRC) is seeking comment on a significant proposal to reduce mercury in consumer products. Public comment on GLRC's plan will be accepted until Oct. 27.

The proposal calls for action in five product areas and five economic sectors through which consumers come into contact with mercury. Actions in the consumer products areas include:

  • Working with dental facilities to use best management practices for handling mercury waste and work to reduce or eliminate the use of mercury in fillings.
  • Banning the sale and installation of mercury-containing thermostats.
  • Banning the sale of mercury-containing thermometers to the public, including to public schools.
  • Banning the sale of mercury-containing switches, relays and measurement devices, establishing collection programs for existing products and banning the use of mercury-added products in classrooms for K-12 students.
  • Working for labeling and recycling of mercury-containing lamps, including car headlights and outdoor lighting.

Actions proposed in the industry sectors include:

  • Ban the purchase and use of mercury-containing devices in school classrooms and health care areas.
  • Working to increase the removal of mercury-containing devices from scrap metal and vehicles prior to crushing or melting operations, including increasing participation in the National Vehicle Mercury Switch Removal Program.
  • Conducting outreach to heavy industry to promote mercury reduction projects.
  • Working with the health care industry to reduce mercury use.
  • Working to expand household hazardous waste and electronics collections to make this service available to more households.

In an effort to reach all product lines and economic sectors, the proposal calls for labeling all products containing mercury.

"We look forward to working with the various industries in Pennsylvania that deal with mercury so we can put together the best strategy to reduce the use of and exposure to this dangerous substance," Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Kathleen A. McGinty said on Aug. 29. "We will review all of the comments we receive and we will use the expertise of the private sector to develop the best plan for the commonwealth to reduce mercury use."

McGinty said Pennsylvania and other states may adopt the overall Great Lakes Regional Collaboration Mercury in Products Phase-Down Strategy without agreeing to implement every recommendation.

"While working with our neighboring states will enhance the effectives of this strategy, we must craft a plan that will achieve the maximum mercury reduction while protecting our industries and the jobs they provide for our citizens in Pennsylvania," McGinty said.

The draft plan, "Great Lakes Mercury in Products Phase-Down Strategy," is now available at http://glrc.us/initiatives/toxics/drafthgphasedownstrategy.html.

Check out the archives of Environmental Protection for additional articles related to mercury, including: "Hotspots Of Mercury Contamination Found In Eastern North America."

This article originally appeared in the 08/01/2007 issue of Environmental Protection.

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