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[GreenYes] Washington Seeks input on Mercury Reduction Plan
Here is an opportunity for those interested in waste reduction and removal
of toxics from the waste stream to provide public input on the plan of the
State of Washington for reducing mercury in products.
Washington Seeks Comment on Mercury Reduction Plan 
OLYMPIA, Washington, September 10, 2002 (ENS) - The Washington Departments
of Ecology and Healthy is seeking public comment on a new plan for reducing
the use and release of mercury in Washington state. 
The Mercury Chemical Action Plan lists known sources and uses of mercury in
Washington. The agencies are now taking public comment on the plan, which
identifies long term and short term strategies for reducing mercury sources
and exposure. 
"People would be surprised to learn how many consumer products contain
mercury," said Bill Backous of the Department of Ecology (Ecology). "Through
this action plan, we hope to increase awareness of these potential sources
of mercury so people can either avoid them or learn to handle and dispose of
them safely." 
Mercury is toxic, and exposure to it can cause neurological problems in
humans and animals. People may be exposed to mercury by eating contaminated
fish from certain water bodies or by inhaling the gaseous form of the
element. 
Mercury also may be absorbed through the skin if children or adults play
with the silvery liquid mercury found in a broken thermometer or thermostat.
Other states have launched efforts to reduce the use and release of mercury,
and Washington's action plan builds on those efforts. 
"We know a lot about the health problems that mercury can cause. Health
effects are most severe for the developing fetus and young child," said Jude
VanBuren of the Department of Health. "Our public health advisories warn
about mercury in certain kinds of fish. To keep mercury out of our food
chain, it is important to reduce the amount of mercury released into the
environment." 
The action plan for mercury, produced at the direction of the state
legislature, is the first plan to be developed as part of Ecology's
"persistent, bioaccumulative toxins" (PBT) strategy. The department intends
to develop action plans for other PBTs, which are toxic substances that are
known to build up in humans and animals. 
The PBT strategy and the draft mercury action plan are available at:
<http://www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/eap/pbt/pbtfaq.html> 
The 60 day public comment period on the draft Mercury Chemical Action Plan
ends on November 8. Written comments may be submitted to Mike Gallagher at
mgal461@ecy.wa.gov or Department of Ecology, P.O. Box 47600, Olympia,
Washington, 98501-7600. 
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