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[GreenYes] Senate votes to ban the sale of mercury thermometers
Senate Votes to Bar New Mercury Thermometers 
WASHINGTON, DC, September 6, 2002 (ENS) - The U.S. Senate has passed
legislation that would ban the sale of mercury fever thermometers anywhere
in the United States. 
The Senate voted unanimously on Thursday to pass The Mercury Reduction and
Disposal Act of 2002 (S 351), authored by Senator Susan Collins, a Maine
Republican. Besides banning new thermometer sales, the bill would also help
solve some of the nation's mercury disposal problems. 
"Many of us know from personal experience that mercury fever thermometers
are very easily broken," Collins said after the bill was passed. When this
happens, the improper disposal of the mercury can have severe environmental
and physical consequences." 
"One mercury thermometer contains about one gram of mercury. Despite its
small size, one of these thermometers contains enough mercury to contaminate
all the fish in a 20 acre lake," Collins added. 
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that mercury
thermometers contribute about 17 tons of mercury to solid waste per year. 
The Mercury Reduction and Disposal Act provides for a grant program to help
consumers exchange mercury thermometers for digital or other alternatives. 
"By bringing in mercury thermometers for proper disposal, consumers will
ensure the mercury from their thermometers doesn't end up polluting our
lakes and threatening our health," Collins explained. "It will also reduce
the risk of breakage and contamination inside the home." 
The bill would also set up procedures for the safe storage and disposal of
the mercury collected from thermometers in the exchange program. The bill
directs the EPA to ensure that the mercury is kept out of the environment
and out of commerce. 
"This mercury will not reenter the environment, and it will not be sent to
India, one of the largest manufacturers of mercury thermometers," Collins
noted. 
The bill creates an interagency task force to address the problem of the
global circulation of mercury and ways to reduce the mercury threat to
humans and the environment. The task force, to be chaired by the
administrator of the EPA, would also be charged with identifying long term
means of disposing of mercury and comprehensive solutions to the global
mercury problem. 
The bill must still be reviewed and passed by the House and signed by the
President before it becomes law. 
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