Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Sen. Collins Introduces National Mercury Monitoring Act

Jun 13: U.S. Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) introduced legislation to create a comprehensive new program to measure mercury levels across the United States. The bipartisan "Comprehensive National Mercury Monitoring Act" (S.1183) is cosponsored by Senator Tom Carper (D-DE). Senator Collins said, "This legislation would build on existing environmental monitoring efforts to create a comprehensive nationwide mercury monitoring network to provide sound mercury measurements that EPA sorely needs." Through the program, mercury monitoring sites would be established across the nation to measure mercury levels in the air, rain, soil, lakes and streams, wildlife and the fish that people eat. Senator Collins has made reducing the mercury threat to our people and wildlife one of her priorities in the Senate. In 2002, the Senate unanimously passed her legislation to ban the sale of mercury fever thermometers, the source of some 17 tons of mercury in solid waste every year. 

    Sen. Collins said, "Mercury is one of the most persistent and dangerous pollutants that threatens our health and environment today. This powerful toxin affects the senses, the brain, spinal cord, kidneys and liver. It poses significant risks to children and pregnant women, causing an elevated risk of birth defects and problems with motor skills. It is estimated that approximately 410,000 children born in the U.S. each year are exposed to levels of mercury in the womb that are high enough to impair neurological development. While mercury exposure has gone down as mercury emissions in the United States have declined, levels remain unacceptably high."
        The Great Lakes Commission (GLC) issued a release praising the legislation. GLC indicated that since 2003, members of the scientific community have been calling for a national network to track mercury in the environment and are strong supporters of Collins' bill. GLC said, "With fish consumption advisories in every state in the nation and scarce monitoring to track how mercury levels in the environment are changing over time, the time has come to advance this common sense legislation. The National Mercury Monitoring Network (MercNet) established by this bill would systematically track mercury in the environment to help safeguard our fisheries, protect public health, and evaluate the impact of policy decisions." In October 2010, the Great Lakes Commission (GLC) adopted a resolution calling for comprehensive, collaborative, long-term mercury monitoring and research programs within and outside of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River basin.
    Access a release from Senator Collins (click here). Access legislative details from S.1183 (click here). Access a posted release from the GLC (click here).