Bill Aims to Lower Mercury Pollution

Requires New Collection Pgms.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Environmental Conservation Committee Chair Bob Sweeney announced passage of legislation that will decrease mercury pollution by encouraging the safe collection of mercury-containing thermostats.

“When released into the environment, mercury causes serious health problems,” said Silver. “Mercurycontaining thermostats are a significant source of mercury. This collection program would be a major step towards protecting New Yorkers, especially pregnant women and children from the toxic effects of mercury.”

The bill (A.3485-A) amends the Environmental Conservation Law to require those who make, distribute, and sell thermostats containing mercury to establish collection programs. Mercury exposure poses significant health risks including neurological impairments.

Promoting the collection of mercury containing thermostats aims to help safeguard those who are most at risk, including pregnant women and children, according to the Assembly.

Under the measure, those who make and sell mercury-containing thermostats are required to submit a collection plan for out-of-service thermostats to the Department of Environmental Conservation.

The legislation establishes collection goals and, in order to achieve them, plan sponsors may offer financial incentives but must include an education and outreach program, plans for the safe disposal of used thermostats, and plans to promote mercury-free alternatives.

None of the costs of these programs would be passed along to consumers, contractors, or service technicians.

Over 300,000 mercury-containing thermostats come off the wall each year with most ending up in landfills or incinerators with the potential for mercury releases.

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