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 WashPIRG's Plan for a Mercury Free Future

By Deverie Robinson

Washington Public Interest Research Group, also known as WashPIRG, has been busy this year educating our community about the dangers of mercury poisoning. Because mercury is a neuro-toxin, it attacks the central nervous system and can cause birth defects and damage to kidneys and lungs. This bio-accumulative chemical finds its way to animals via contaminated waters and mishandled waste containing mercury, such as thermometers and older vehicle parts. While legislators have already taken some measures to ensure public safety against these kinds of environmental hazards, much remains to be done. So far, the state Department of Ecology has released a plan called the Mercury Reduction and Education Act of 2002 to phase out and eliminate hazardous elements such as mercury from our environment, but the race can't be won in a single step. Ever lobbying to keep our state responsible and healthy, WashPIRG's focus is to educate the public, promote the use of non-mercuric products and collect and dispose of mercuric products in a responsible fashion. As part of its mission, WashPIRG is actively recruiting people to show our state representatives that we are concerned about the passing of House Bill 2686, most recently revised on February 8, 2002. HB 2686 along with SB 6533 will help to reduce mercury pollution by:

Banning the sale of mercury-added products in Washington where there are viable alternatives to those products;
Requiring the labeling of all mercury-added products so that we know how to dispose properly of those products; and
Requiring manufacturers to take responsibility for mercury they put in the environment through funding of effective mercury disposal systems.

You can be proactive on behalf of your environment from the comfort of your own computer! To support the passing of these two bills and help bring this issue to consciousness, visit http://www.washpirg.org as well as www.leg.wa.gov to see what you can do to help!