From: U.S. EPA [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
Sent: Wednesday, July 05, 2006 1:26 PM
Subject: EPA News Release: Report Highlights Accomplishments; Outlines
News for Release: Wednesday, July 5, 2006
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
Report Highlights Accomplishments; Outlines Path Forward
Contact: Jennifer Wood, (202) 564-4355 / [log in to unmask]
(Washington, D.C. - July 5, 2006) Domestic releases and uses of mercury
have decreased significantly over the last 25 years, according to a
report released today by EPA. For example, U.S. mercury air emissions
have been reduced by 45 percent since 1990, and mercury use in products
and processes decreased 83 percent between 1980 and 1997. "EPA's Roadmap
for Mercury," the first-ever comprehensive overview of agency mercury
activities, describes progress and ongoing efforts in reducing mercury
in the environment, both domestically and internationally.
The roadmap highlights the agency's decade-plus efforts to address
mercury risks to human health and the environment. The roadmap will also
help the agency maximize coordination of its diverse efforts in
advancing EPA's long-term goal of reducing risks associated with
mercury. In addition to providing a roadmap for EPA activities, the
report provides important information about EPA's mercury efforts to
other federal agencies, our partners in state, tribal and local
governments and to the public.
"We're moving in the right direction - mercury emissions have declined
dramatically over the past two decades,'" said Susan Hazen, acting
assistant administrator for EPA's Office of Prevention, Pesticides, and
Toxic Substances. "This report details previous and current activities
that have contributed to these mercury reductions, and it will help
outline EPA's overall effort to continue protecting public health and
The roadmap focuses on six key areas: 1) addressing mercury releases to
the environment; 2) addressing mercury uses in products and industrial
processes which can lead to releases to the environment; 3) managing
commodity-grade mercury supplies; 4) communicating risks to the public;
5) addressing international mercury sources and 6) conducting mercury
research and monitoring.
As part of the agency's ongoing efforts to reduce mercury emissions, EPA
has also signed a proposed Significant New Use Rule (SNUR) today.
Automakers voluntarily discontinued uses of elemental mercury switches
in convenience light assemblies and anti-lock brake systems in post-2003
cars sold in America. This proposed SNUR, issued under the Toxic
Substances Control Act, would give EPA an opportunity to evaluate any
resumed use of mercury in these switches and, if necessary, to prohibit
or limit such activity before it occurs to prevent unreasonable risk of
harm to human health or the environment.
In the last 15 years, EPA has focused its mercury reduction efforts on
large point sources of air emissions from municipal waste combustors or
incinerators, medical waste incinerators and hazardous waste combustors.
More recently, EPA has focused its efforts on industrial boilers,
chlor-alkali facilities and a Bush Administration regulation that, for
the first time, will achieve a 70 percent reduction in mercury emissions
from coal-fired power plants, when fully implemented. EPA now has
standards in place limiting mercury air releases from most major known
industrial sources in the United States.
EPA is also working to advance the state of the science surrounding
mercury, while taking action now to help reduce risks. Major offices at
EPA are continuing to work to better understand the sources of mercury
and how it impacts human health and the environment. At the same time,
the agency is focusing on risk communication and outreach activities
that will help the public reduce exposure to mercury.
A copy of the roadmap, the proposed SNUR and other information on the
agency's efforts to reduce mercury: http://www.epa.gov/mercury
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