U.S. sets ban on mercury exports
President Bush last week signed into law a bill that by 2013 bans export of elemental mercury, a toxic substance used in many industrial applications that can cause severe neurological damage when ingested.
The United States is one of the top exporters of mercury. The Mercury Export Ban was introduced in the Senate by Barack Obama, D-Ill., and Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska.
The United States has made great efforts to limit and recycle mercury, but continues to export it to other countries in great quantities. Children and unborn fetuses are especially vulnerable to mercury, which can affect vision, motor skills, blood pressure and fertility. Releases of mercury into the atmosphere can enter the seafood chain and be ingested when people eat fish.
Rep. Tom Allen, D-Maine, who sponsored the bill in the House, said he wants extra legislation to establish a nationwide mercury pollution monitoring system and require utilities to reduce the amount of their mercury emissions.
The American Chemistry Council, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Environmental Council of the States, the Chlorine Institute, Inc., and the National Mining Association supported the bill.