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June 2014 | Grants Newsletter

Halting Mercury Contamination

HAZARDOUS WASTE: Data excerpted from "Turning Up The Heat II," a report prepared by Natural Resources Defense Council, Product Stewardship Institute, Clean Water Fund, and Mercury Policy Project.

Quick quiz: How much mercury ends up in New York’s landfills and waste incinerators every year? Answer: More than a ton. How does it get there? Mostly from discarded household thermostats.

The poisonous metal makes its way into air, water, and the fish we eat, putting pregnant women and babies at particular risk. Mercury can cause birth defects, learning disabilities, and other serious health problems in children who are exposed in utero or as infants. For years, manufacturers put mercury in products such as thermostats, thermometers, switches, and measuring devices, and avoided responsibility for their disposal.

Thanks to the Multi-State Mercury Products Campaign, this is changing. Using $220,000 from The Trust, the group helped pass laws banning the sale of products containing mercury, leading to a major market shift to safer alternatives.

Last year, New York joined six other states in passing laws requiring makers of thermostats containing mercury to collect and safely dispose of them. With a $100,000 Trust grant, the campaign will push to enforce these laws and pass mercury-reduction legislation across the Northeast.

Next article in the June Newsletter: Other New Grants>>

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