Health Care Without Harm Praises MN Law to Ban Mercury Thermometer Sales

Apr 26, 2001, 01:00 ET from Health Care Without Harm

    ST. PAUL, Minn., April 26 /PRNewswire/ -- Today, Minnesota Governor Jesse
 Ventura signed legislation that will all but eliminate the sales and
 distribution of thermometers that contain mercury.  Representative Dan Dorman
 (R-Albert Lea) and State Senator John Marty (D-Roseville) authored the
 historic bill, which passed in the House in March and in the Senate last week.
     Inappropriate disposal of thermometers and other mercury-containing
 products is a major source of mercury emissions to the environment, although
 coal-burning power plants are the top polluter.  Once mercury enters the
 environment, microorganisms in lakes and rivers convert it to the more toxic
 methylmercury, where it builds up in fish and wildlife.
     "This is a great day for the environment, and especially for people and
 wildlife who like to eat fish!" said Jackie Hunt Christensen, co-coordinator
 of Health Care Without Harm, an international coalition concerned about the
 environmental impacts of health care.  "We'd like to thank Representative
 Dorman and Senator Marty for their leadership on this important public health
 issue, as well as Governor Ventura for signing the bill into law."
     Mercury can cause neurological damage, affecting the way we think, see,
 hear, smell, taste and touch. Most human exposure to mercury comes through
 eating fish. Pregnant women, women of childbearing age, and young children are
 particularly at risk from mercury exposure.  In fact, the National Academy of
 Sciences noted in a recent report that more than 60,000 children annually may
 be at risk for learning disabilities because of mercury-contaminated fish
 eaten by their mothers during pregnancy.  Over 90% of the Minnesota lakes and
 rivers that have been tested receive fish consumption advisories due to
 mercury contamination, totaling over 800 in 2000.
     Each fever thermometer contains approximately one gram of mercury, which
 may not seem like much.  But collectively, thermometers are a significant
 source, and it doesn't take much mercury to contaminate fish.  The current
 levels of fish contamination are caused by air deposition of one gram of
 mercury per 20 acres of water.
     "Fish are an important part of many Minnesotans' diets," emphasized
 Christensen, who also directs the Food Safety project at the Minneapolis-based
 Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy.  "Getting our mercury fever
 thermometers out of our medicine chests is just one way in which we can make
 fish safer to eat."  She noted that people who visit the Science Museum of
 Minnesota on Mother's Day, May 13 from 1-4 p.m. can bring in their mercury
 fever thermometer and get a free non-mercury replacement.  (Limit: one per
 household; supplies are limited).
     Nationwide, mercury fever thermometers contribute 17 tons of mercury to
 the solid waste stream annually.  Some cooking thermometers and indoor/outdoor
 thermometers contain the toxic metal; these are also restricted under the
 Minnesota law.
     Health Care Without Harm encourages anyone who eats fish or seafood to
 learn about the fish advisories in their local lakes and rivers as well as in
 commercial fish, and eat accordingly.  Unlike polychlorinated biphenyls
 (PCBs), a pollutant that builds up in fat and can be trimmed from the fillet,
 mercury is stored in the muscle tissue of the fish, so trimming fat will not
 decrease mercury exposure.
     Health Care Without Harm is an international coalition of more than
 300 member-organizations working internationally in 29 countries to transform
 the health care industry so that it is no longer a source of environmental
 harm.
     To learn more about HCWH, visit our web site: http://www.noharm.org/
 
                     MAKE YOUR OPINION COUNT -  Click Here
                http://tbutton.prnewswire.com/prn/11690X48306724
 
 

SOURCE Health Care Without Harm
    ST. PAUL, Minn., April 26 /PRNewswire/ -- Today, Minnesota Governor Jesse
 Ventura signed legislation that will all but eliminate the sales and
 distribution of thermometers that contain mercury.  Representative Dan Dorman
 (R-Albert Lea) and State Senator John Marty (D-Roseville) authored the
 historic bill, which passed in the House in March and in the Senate last week.
     Inappropriate disposal of thermometers and other mercury-containing
 products is a major source of mercury emissions to the environment, although
 coal-burning power plants are the top polluter.  Once mercury enters the
 environment, microorganisms in lakes and rivers convert it to the more toxic
 methylmercury, where it builds up in fish and wildlife.
     "This is a great day for the environment, and especially for people and
 wildlife who like to eat fish!" said Jackie Hunt Christensen, co-coordinator
 of Health Care Without Harm, an international coalition concerned about the
 environmental impacts of health care.  "We'd like to thank Representative
 Dorman and Senator Marty for their leadership on this important public health
 issue, as well as Governor Ventura for signing the bill into law."
     Mercury can cause neurological damage, affecting the way we think, see,
 hear, smell, taste and touch. Most human exposure to mercury comes through
 eating fish. Pregnant women, women of childbearing age, and young children are
 particularly at risk from mercury exposure.  In fact, the National Academy of
 Sciences noted in a recent report that more than 60,000 children annually may
 be at risk for learning disabilities because of mercury-contaminated fish
 eaten by their mothers during pregnancy.  Over 90% of the Minnesota lakes and
 rivers that have been tested receive fish consumption advisories due to
 mercury contamination, totaling over 800 in 2000.
     Each fever thermometer contains approximately one gram of mercury, which
 may not seem like much.  But collectively, thermometers are a significant
 source, and it doesn't take much mercury to contaminate fish.  The current
 levels of fish contamination are caused by air deposition of one gram of
 mercury per 20 acres of water.
     "Fish are an important part of many Minnesotans' diets," emphasized
 Christensen, who also directs the Food Safety project at the Minneapolis-based
 Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy.  "Getting our mercury fever
 thermometers out of our medicine chests is just one way in which we can make
 fish safer to eat."  She noted that people who visit the Science Museum of
 Minnesota on Mother's Day, May 13 from 1-4 p.m. can bring in their mercury
 fever thermometer and get a free non-mercury replacement.  (Limit: one per
 household; supplies are limited).
     Nationwide, mercury fever thermometers contribute 17 tons of mercury to
 the solid waste stream annually.  Some cooking thermometers and indoor/outdoor
 thermometers contain the toxic metal; these are also restricted under the
 Minnesota law.
     Health Care Without Harm encourages anyone who eats fish or seafood to
 learn about the fish advisories in their local lakes and rivers as well as in
 commercial fish, and eat accordingly.  Unlike polychlorinated biphenyls
 (PCBs), a pollutant that builds up in fat and can be trimmed from the fillet,
 mercury is stored in the muscle tissue of the fish, so trimming fat will not
 decrease mercury exposure.
     Health Care Without Harm is an international coalition of more than
 300 member-organizations working internationally in 29 countries to transform
 the health care industry so that it is no longer a source of environmental
 harm.
     To learn more about HCWH, visit our web site: http://www.noharm.org/
 
                     MAKE YOUR OPINION COUNT -  Click Here
                http://tbutton.prnewswire.com/prn/11690X48306724
 
 SOURCE  Health Care Without Harm