Pollution Prevention Northwest Newsletter
Published by the Pacific Northwest Pollution Prevention Resource Center
Spring 2003


Mercury and P2 in the Northwest
        What’s in your mouth, at your local Costco, at the doctor’s, in the trunk of your neighbor’s sedan, and in your pantry, all at the same time?* OK, not exactly a fair question, seeing as how you’ve probably already read the title of the newsletter. But yes, mercury, it is. Mercury is a hot topic internationally, and in the Northwest. As the Northwest develops and implements mercury reduction plans, pollution prevention plays a key role. Read on to learn about regional mercury sources, what’s happening, and some of the solutions to address the problem of mercury in our environment.
* Sources: mouth = dental fillings, Costco = fluorescent lamps, doctor’s = fever thermometer, sedan = trunk light switch, pantry = canned tuna

 
CONTENTS:
dot Introduction
dot Mercury Sources
dot Exchanges & Collections
dot Legislative Activities
dot Business Initiatives
dot Innovative Partnering
dot More Mercury P2 Tools
dot Mercury Resources
dot News Digest
dot About this Newsletter

        Mercury has a long and fascinating history. It is a naturally-occurring element that enters the environment from rock formations and volcanoes. Humans have traded mercury commercially for over 2000 years. It was known to ancient Chinese and Hindus before 2000 BC and was found in tubes in Egyptian tombs dated from 1500 BC.
        Mercury is an incredibly handy substance. It is the only metal that is liquid at room temperature, it expands and contracts with temperature, has excellent conductivity, readily amalgamates with other metals, has antibacterial and antifungal properties, and boasts other useful characteristics.
        For this reason, mercury is quite ubiquitous in consumer and industrial products, and therefore, also in the related waste streams and releases associated with the manufacturing, use, and disposal of these products.
        Over the past century, the US Environmental Protection Agency estimates that the amount of mercury entering the environment has increased fivefold due to human activities, ranging from coal burning to waste incineration to manufacture and disposal of common mercury-containing consumer products.
        Furthermore, mercury is a potent human toxin, and does not dissipate in the environment. As a persistent bioaccumulative toxin (PBT), mercury builds up in the human body, and can have a range of negative health impacts even at very small concentrations. Mercury is especially dangerous for children. According to the EPA, 1 in 12 women of childbearing age in the US have blood concentrations of mercury high enough to place their children at some risk of adverse health effects, like reduced IQ and impaired eye-hand coordination.

 

Mercury Sources

        thermometerEfforts to contain, reduce, and eliminate mercury in the environment are underway worldwide. Many governments are planning and implementing programs to reduce or eliminate mercury discharges and releases. To design effective reduction programs, it is important to quantify mercury inventories and flows within a defined region and gather baseline data.
        In the Northwest, Oregon, Washington and King County recently developed estimated annual mercury discharges from various products and other sources. Washington’s estimate is that 3,800 - 5,000 pounds enter the state’s environment annually. Oregon’s estimated annual mercury inventories and discharges range from 3,600 - 10,000. King County’s estimates suggest a range of 500 - 1,900 pounds annually. (The wide range is due to levels of uncertainty of various multipliers and different methods used to estimate mercury totals.) The table on the next page lists estimated annual mercury quantities for a subset of some of the more quantifiable mercury sources identified.
        Washington and Oregon have both identified mercury reduction as a top priority, and state and local governments across the Northwest are actively working to reduce mercury pollution. Exchanges and collections; legislative activities; business initiatives; partnering; and other P2 tools are being used to educate people about the implications of and the solutions to prevent mercury pollution.

Common Mercury Sources
Common Mercury Sources
1 End use applications for switches that may contain mercury are so varied that it is hard to quantify all types of mercury switches. An estimated 630 tons of mercury are in switches and relays in the US. Examples of potential end uses where mercury-added products are still in use and/or products are still manufactured with mercury include: vehicle hoods and trunks, bilge and septic tanks, control devices (for boilers, industrial equipment, thermostats and other temperature controls, alarms, level controls, etc.), computers and telecommunications equipment, appliance lids and doors, and more.

Exchanges and Collections

        Mercury is distributed widely in consumer products. Based on data from EPA, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and other sources, 2,000 pounds of mercury enters Oregon’s environment every year solely from consumer products (this figure doesn’t include additional point and non-point source mercury releases). Mercury is present in old thermometers, thermostats, computers, batteries, cars and more. Although this mercury contained in products is common, it is contained, so education, collection, and proper disposal will prevent mercury pollution.
        Many mercury-containing products have mercury-free substitutes that work just as well. Regional governments are encouraging swaps for mercury-free products, or simply collecting mercury-containing materials to ensure proper disposal.

Fever Thermometers
        Mercury thermometer exchanges have been held across the region, including at least 6 Washington counties; Boise, Idaho; and the Portland area. A collection event in the Greater Portland area gathered 14,000 thermometers. These exchanges often involve partnering with drugstores and pharmacies. Individuals trade their mercury fever thermometers for mercury-free ones. A guide to conducting an exchange is available at www.noharm.org/library/docs/How_to_Plan_and_Hold_a_Mercury_Thermometer__3.pdf.

Dairy Manometers
        Washington Department of Ecology (DOE) conducted an exchange program to collect manometers (vacuum gauges used to monitor automated milking systems). The program was so successful it exceeded its original goals. Over 2 years, the program collected 78 pounds of liquid mercury and 73 pounds of mercury-contaminated debris, and farms learned of the potential dangers of mercury-containing manometers. Participating dairy farmers received a $300 rebate toward the purchase of new non-mercury gauges. For more information, contact Holly Cushman at 509-575-2724 or hcus461@ecy.wa.gov.

Auto Switches
        Automotive switches have also been targeted with exchange events. As indicated in the “Mercury Sources and Discharges” table, they are a significant mercury waste stream. Oregon’s Mercury “Switch Out” project involved an array of partners: the state government, Portland P2 Outreach (P2O) Team, Northwest Automotive Trades Association, Oregon Environmental Council, Ecological Business Program, and over 100 participating auto repair shops across the state. Shops replaced about 1,500 switches with non-mercury alternatives for free in 2002.
        King County, Washington; Boise, Idaho; and the Alaskan state government are all considering holding local collection events. Several governmental fleet managers at the city and county level are also considering fleet-wide switch outs.

Mercury Sources and Estimated Annual Discharges (in pounds)
Mercury Sources and Est. Annual Discharges

Lab Chemicals
        Targeted collection, education and technical assistance can successfully locate and capture existing mercury stores. King County’s “Rehab the Lab” program improves chemical management in county school laboratories. Between 9/98 and 12/02, the program conducted 577 site visits and collected 600 pounds of mercury, in addition to over four tons of other high-risk chemicals. Read more at www.metrokc.gov/hazwaste/rehab/. Similar efforts in Northwest Oregon have yielded nearly 200 pounds of mercury from high school labs. Washington DOE’s “School Sweeps” program removed mercury, and other dangerous chemicals, from community and vocational colleges. See the project’s final report at www.ecy.wa.gov/pubs/97438.pdf.

Electronics
        Old computers are another source of mercury into the environment. Although the quantity present in each computer is quite small, recent surveys suggest that there may be millions of stored, unused computers in households across the Northwest. A recent survey of 700,000 Washington households found that 29% were storing a computer. These figures suggest that over three million computers could be awaiting disposal, in the Northwest alone.
        Reuse and recycling programs are widespread in the region. Check out Alaska Green Star’s electronics exchange program at www.greenstarinc.org/electronics. In Washington, the Wilderness Technology Alliance accepts donated computers, refurbishes them, and donates them to public schools. Learn more about this organization at www.wildtech.org. Many other reuse programs are available; check out www.microweb.com/pepsite/Recycle/recycle_index.html for state-specific lists.
        If you have “stone age”-era computers that are too old to be accepted for reuse, consider recycling them with a responsible recycler. In early 2003, a handful of computer recyclers across the country, including three in Seattle, committed to rigorous environmental and socially responsible recycling criteria. They pledged to keep hazardous e-waste out of landfills and incinerators, prevent the export of e-waste to developing countries, and to use free market labor (rather than prison labor) to dismantle or recycle e-waste. For more information, including a list of national signatories to the pledge, visit www.ban.org/E-waste/Pledge/Pledgefront.html.

Fluorescent Lamps
        Collection of spent fluorescent tubes and compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) has become a priority. Estimates suggest that 75% of fluorescents are currently landfilled, contributing to mercury releases to the environment.
        King County has promoted recycling of commercial fluorescent lamps since 1999 using outreach, education, and cash incentives, with the goal of achieving a 40% recycling rate. The Oregon Environmental Council launched a project to increase lamp recycling in the Portland area through education, promoting the use of low-mercury lamps, and proper disposal. The Zero Waste Alliance is developing a pilot project to enhance the convenience of recycling of CFLs, such as by establishing collection points at retail stores. For more details, contact Alex Keith at 503-279-9383 or akeith@zerowaste.org.
        National regulatory and recycling information is available at www.lamprecycle.org. The site was developed by the National Electrical Manufacturers Association to help educate lamp users about the issues, and it provides lamp recycler information for each state in the nation.
        Spent fluorescents from homes can be sent to these recyclers, or often are accepted by household hazardous waste programs.

Household Hazardous Waste
        Household hazardous waste collection points often accept mercury-containing products, such as thermostats, CFLs, and old paints, even when a specific collection event is not ongoing. For more details, contact your local program.

Fluorescents

Do They Really Prevent Pollution?

During the energy crunch over the last couple years, fluorescent lamps have been promoted as energy-saving and environment protecting. But they also contain mercury, which has its own host of serious environmental issues. So, is it really “environmentally correct” and P2 to use them? All the sources say a resounding yes.

Fluorescents use 70% less electricity which reduces greenhouse gas emissions and other pollution from energy production. Fluorescents typically contain much less mercury than a mercury fever thermometer. As long as they are properly disposed of at the end of their life, they are the superior environmental choice.

Make them last!: The Lighting Design Lab recommends turning off lamps when they will not be needed for 15 minutes or more. This saves energy, and extends the life of the lamp. Excessively turning lamps on and off, such as in a motion detector light, will shorten bulb life and is not recommended.

Proper disposal: Check with your local household hazardous waste specialist, or for commercial lamp disposal, see www.orcouncil.org/brochures/LampRecyclingBrochure.pdf.

Bulb Recycling in the NW

Many lighting products contain mercury, including fluorescent tubes (“T8s” and “T12s”), compact fluorescents (CFLs), tungsten, certain neon colors, high-intensity discharge (HID) bulbs and ultraviolet (UV) bulbs. HID bulbs are common in security lighting and ‘bluish’ headlights in some cars. In addition, the tiny fluorescents used in some interior car lights and flat screen computer displays also contain mercury. Tungsten, neon, and UV lights have specific uses, but are less prevalent.

Fluorescent tubes contain between 4 - 40 mg of mercury, depending on the manufacturer, while compact fluorescents contain about 4 mg. Tungsten, HIDs and other bulbs contain between 8 - 300 mg per lamp.

Per best estimates from the Association of Lamp and Mercury Recyclers, only 20 - 25% of lamps are recycled, meaning 75% are landfilled, adding an unnecessary mercury burden to the environment. In Washington, roughly 12,000,000 lamps are retired each year by businesses and individuals, translating to only about 3,000,000 lamps recycled.

Ecolights Northwest (www.ecolights.com), in Seattle, Wash., is one of two lamp recyclers in the Northwest and receives lamps from Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Alaska and Montana. They process 1.5 - 2 million tube fluorescents annually along with a smattering of other mercury-bearing lamps, including tiny fluorescents from their electronics recycling division.

Their state of the art equipment crushes and separates lamps into component parts. Glass is recycled as aggregate, aluminum endcaps are sold to metal buyers, and mercury phosphor powder is shipped to a retorter where the mercury is purified for reuse. Ecolights has the capacity to double the annual volume processed, and actively supports agencies in efforts to increase recovery rates.

 

Legislative Activities

        Many governments have taken legislative measures to better control mercury-containing products, and to phase out their use. Nonprofit groups, such as the Oregon Environmental Council and Washington Toxics Coalition, have participated in this effort. Already this year, 65 mercury bills have been introduced in 24 states, including Oregon and Washington. Other legislative tools that have been used in the Northwest include executive orders, resolutions, labeling requirements and sales and disposal bans.

State-level Action
        Oregon’s Governor proclaimed an Executive Order in 1999 that requires DEQ to begin a process to phase PBTs, including mercury, out of the state by 2020.
        To comply with this order, the Oregon state government passed the Mercury Reduction Act of 2001 (HB 3007) which significantly reduces the use and disposal of mercury in the state by phasing out the sale of mercury-containing thermostats, thermometers, novelty products, and cars with mercury light switches. It also requires the removal of auto mercury light switches prior to crushing and recycling. This could prevent 800 pounds of mercury releases annually. See the Act at www.leg.state.or.us/01reg/measures/hb3000.dir/hb3007.b.html or a fact sheet at www.orcouncil.org/pollution/Mercury Bill Fact Sheet.pdf.
        Washington also has enacted state legislation to combat mercury pollution. Congress appropriated funding for the Departments of Ecology and Health to jointly develop a PBT strategy. They recently completed the Mercury Control Action Plan. This legislative session, policymakers are considering sales bans on some mercury-containing products and legislation to hold manufacturers financially accountable for proper disposal of e-waste.
        A detailed list of state legislation under consideration across the country is available at www.mercurypolicy.org (see 3/11/03).

Municipal Action
        The City of Seattle adopted a resolution last year that declares pollution prevention of persistent toxics to be a high priority. It commits the city to developing purchasing criteria that differentiate PBT-containing or producing items from their alternatives. Specific to mercury, the city is analyzing its purchasing of mercury-containing batteries, fluorescent tubes, auto switches, and street lamps.

Labeling
        Labeling requirements are another common policy tool. Oregon’s Act includes them, Washington’s bill under debate includes them, and they have been implemented elsewhere. Vermont instituted labeling requirements for mercury-containing lamps several years ago. These requirements are responsible, at least in part, for recent announcements by lamp makers that they will begin printing information about proper disposal on lamps and packaging sold nationwide.

Sales and Disposal Bans
        Sales bans on mercury-containing items are being used to prevent mercury pollution and reduce eventual disposal issues.
        Oregon’s Act targets the sale of mercury thermometers, novelty products and cars with mercury light switches. The Seattle-King County Board of Health is considering banning the sale of mercury fever thermometers in the area. As of November 2002, there were seven state laws and 15 local ordinances that banned or restricted the sale of mercury fever thermometers.
        In addition to sales bans, governments are also introducing disposal bans to keep mercury-containing products out of general waste and prevent it from being landfilled.
        Many fluorescent lamps are managed under the Universal Waste rule, and medium and large businesses must recycle or dispose of lamps through a licensed hazardous waste disposal company, not at the landfill (specific laws vary across states and local jurisdictions).
        In terms of other products, Snohomish County no longer accepts computers, computer monitors, televisions, and computer circuit boards for landfill disposal. The “Take It Back Network” provides information about recycling alternatives that keep mercury and other hazardous materials out of the general landfill. Learn more at www.co.snohomish.wa.us/publicwk/solidwaste/programs/takeitback.
        King County solid waste facilities no longer accept computer monitors and color TVs from commercial sources. The county is providing recycling resources and encouraging proper disposal of these items. Check out the reuse and recycling database at www6.metrokc.gov/dnr/swd/Recycle/Recycle.asp.
        On the same theme, but in a different media, King County is the nation’s first jurisdiction to require dentists to meet local discharge limits for mercury. Starting in July 2003, dentists will have to have installed amalgam separators at their offices to reduce mercury pollution that has traditionally been found “downstream” at local water treatment plants. More details can be found at dnr.metrokc.gov/wlr/indwaste/dentists.htm.

The Mercury Trail
the most common route for mercury to affect human health

1. When coal, oil or natural gas are burned in power plants, or when products containing mercury are broken, crushed or burned, mercury becomes a gas that rises into the air.
2. Mercury gas attaches to water droplets and returns to earth’s waterways in rain and snow.
3. Bacteria in the water and other processes convert mercury into methylmercury, its most toxic form, which is absorbed by plankton.
4. Methylmercury builds up in the tissue of fish and wildlife and eventually humans who eat the flesh.
5. Mercury in the body affects the brain, spinal cord, kidneys and liver. It is especially dangerous to unborn babies and small children.
(Source: Northwest Product Stewardship Council, “Policymakers’ Bulletin,” July 2002)


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Although fish consumption is the most common pathway for mercury exposure in humans, other less common routes include:
- Inhalation,
- Ingestion,
- Injections, &
- Dermal exposure


 
 
 
 
 
 
 

An estimated 2,000 pounds of mercury enters Oregon’s waste stream annually from mercury-containing consumer products alone.
(Source: “Mercury: On the Road to Zero,” p. 23)


 
 
 
 
 
 
 

The amount of mercury in a single thermometer (about 1 gram) is enough to contaminate a 20-acre lake.
(Source: Health Care Withouth Harm)


 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Want to do your own regionalized mercury inventory? The reports from Oregon, Washington, and King County (links provided in the "Mercury Resources" section) provide calculations and methodology as to how each region determined its inventories.


 
 
 
 
 
 
 

“Quicksilver” (living silver) is another term for mercury.

Business initiatives

        Many businesses have taken a role in reducing mercury pollution as well.
        Dozens of retailers including Toys ‘R Us, drugstore.com, Target and others no longer offer mercury fever thermometers.
        thermostatThermostat manufacturer Honeywell has announced plans to redesign one of its most popular models to be mercury-free.
        Major group purchaser and resource management company, Consorta Inc., has announced that it will no longer offer mercury-containing products through any group contract unless no viable substitute mercury-free product exists. This is a part of Consorta’s environmentally preferred purchasing strategy, and the company also works with manufacturers to reduce toxicity of products and to ensure proper end-of-life disposal.
        A group of California grocery stores recently began posting signs cautioning consumers about the dangers of mercury in fish. These signs mark the first time that any retailers in California, and perhaps the nation, have issued such a strong warning about the health risks associated with a food product. Read more at ens-news.com/ens/feb2003/2003-02-24-06.asp.
        Other businesses are working to eliminate mercury pollution by purchasing “green energy.” Fossil-fueled power plants release mercury in varying amounts. According to EPA, coal-fired utility boilers are responsible for 33% of total mercury emissions nationally. But green energy is mercury-free and provides a range of additional environmental benefits.
        One source of green energy is purchasing “Green Tags” that offset the impacts of the energy a company uses. Bonneville Environmental Foundation (BEF) sold over $700,000 of these Green Tags in 2002: an amount equal to the total annual energy output of 35 large utility-scale wind turbines. This capital goes into the development of renewable green energy sources in the Northwest. Companies buying green tags include Batdorf and Bronson Coffee Roasters, Blue Heron Paper Co, CH2M HILL, West Linn Paper Co, Nike, Tektronix, Bear Creek Corp., Solar Plexus, White Wave and many others. Nonprofits, governments, and local utilities are also buying Green Tags: see a list at www.b-e-f.org/accomplishments/epp.shtm.
        Going beyond simply buying Green Tags, Mount Hood Meadows in Oregon has offered skiers the opportunity to offset their emissions of their trips to the slopes by purchasing $2 “Mini-Green Tags.” While this effort doesn’t target mercury directly, it supports the development of renewable energy sources, which will reduce one of the Northwest’s largest sources of mercury into the environment.

 

Innovative Partnering

        Given mercury’s widespread use and the array of stakeholders on mercury issues, some interesting groups have come together to collaboratively address mercury issues.
        Medical products of many types have historically contained mercury but increasing awareness, along with a prevention-oriented mindset, has spurred many partnerships. Nationally, Hospitals for a Healthy Environment (www.h2e-online.org) and Sustainable Hospitals (www.sustainablehospitals.org) are providing information and technical resources to the medical facilities. Regionally, the Puget Sound area’s Medical Waste Industry Roundtable (www.nwmedicalwaste.org) and Oregon’s chapter of Health Care Without Harm (www.oregon-health.org/hcwh.html) provide mercury reduction information to the health care sector. For additional discussion on the topic of PBTs and the medical industry, see PPRC’s Fall 2001 newsletter at www.pprc.org/pprc/pubs/newslets/fall01.pdf.
        In the Great Lakes region, three steel mills developed mercury reduction initiatives and partnered with EPA and other regional stakeholders to share this information with others. The mills conducted mercury inventories and developed schedules for mercury reduction. Their experiences are written up, along with helpful forms and instructions for conducting similar initiatives in the document: “A Guide to Mercury Reduction in Industrial and Commercial Settings” at www.delta-institute.org/publications/Steel-Hg-Report-0627011.pdf.
        The Clean Car Campaign’s “Partnership for Mercury Free Vehicles” is a joint project of environmental nonprofits, automotive trade groups, steel industry trade groups, and others concerned with reducing mercury in cars and properly disposing of mercury in recycled cars. Estimates suggest that convenience lighting, anti-lock braking systems, and active ride control systems used 12 tons of mercury in automotive applications in 1995. New headlights and other applications also use mercury. This mercury can be a significant source when vehicles are retired and recycled. Read more about the Partnership at www.cleancarcampaign.org/partnership.shtml.

 

More Mercury P2 Tools

        Many existing P2 tools are wholly applicable to mercury reduction and are being used effectively to target mercury. They include green purchasing, greening the supply chain, design for the environment, and product stewardship.

Green Purchasing
        Several mentions have already been made of environmentally preferable purchasing. Buyers can take mercury-content into account when making purchasing decisions. Legislation can require buyers to do so, and can provide incentives to purchase reduced or mercury-free products.
        In Washington, the General Administration purchasing contracts include information, where available, about whether specific vehicles are mercury-free.
        Partnerships within the health care sector have encouraged the development of mercury-reduced and mercury-free products. See detailed lists at www.wsha.org/MercuryUse/MercuryAlternatives-FINAL.pdf and www.sustainablehospitals.org (scroll to section 3 and click on mercury).
        Find helpful purchasing information about other mercury-free products, including vehicles and industrial products at www.state.me.us/dep/mercury/lcspfinal.pdf and www.informinc.org/p3_00.php.

Greening the Supply Chain
        Taking purchasing to the next level, buyers can work with their suppliers to encourage them to provide mercury-free products, and to send this message to product manufacturers. Vendors and manufacturers that provide products to the City of Seattle are learning that mercury and PBT-content, in products such as thermostats and vehicles, is being scrutinized.
        Within the health care field, the Food and Drug Administration and the American Academy of Pediatrics urged vaccine manufacturers to remove thimerosal (a mercury-containing preservative) from children’s vaccines. Today, most infant vaccines are mercury-free. The preservative is still added to some formulations for influenza (flu vaccines), diphtheria-tetanus, tetanus, hepatitis B, pneumococcal and rabies. However, a 2001 recommendation from the Institute of Medicine that children and pregnant women avoid thimerosal whenever possible, may continue to spur development of mercury-free alternatives.

Design For the Environment
        In recent years, a host of products have been redesigned and are commercially available in mercury-free form, including thermometers, thermostats, many types of switches, dental fillings, paint, alkaline batteries and more.
        Mercury switches in cars have been mercury-free in European, Japanese, and other foreign automobiles since 1993. US automakers committed to phase out mercury switches starting with 2003 model year cars.
        A historical success story of mercury reduction focuses on the battery industry. The industry’s 1994 consumption of mercury was 99.41% less than its 1984 consumption rate, due to the development of new technologies. During this period, US sales of alkaline batteries increased by 150%.
        Continued education and attention to the issue of mercury will likely continue this trend.

Product Stewardship
        Another effective P2 tool is product stewardship which encourages all parties involved in a product’s lifecycle to proactively take responsibility to minimize the product’s environmental impact. Currently, the costs of mercury collection and disposal disproportionately fall on taxpayers, local governments, and specific industries. As mercury collection programs become more successful, they cost more, out of already-stretched budgets.
        Right now, electronics manufacturers are actively discussing product stewardship options for computers and other devices.
        For more information, check out the latest at the Northwest Product Stewardship Council at www.productstewardship.net/productsMercury.html, and check out their fact sheet for policymakers at www.productstewardship.net/PDFs/productsMercuryPolicymakersBulletin.pdf.

 

Wrap Up

        The spotlight is shining on mercury right now, here in the Northwest, many other areas of the US, and in dozens of other countries. News and new resources are published almost daily.
        At the November 2002 Regional P2 Roundtable, many Northwest jurisdictions announced plans to begin new mercury reduction projects. If you are a Northwest technical assistance provider or business, and would like to network with others on this topic or share information about your efforts, please contact PPRC and we’ll help spread the word!

300,000 mercury fever thermometers exist in King County, that contain over 300 pounds of mercury.
(Source: King County Local Hazardous Waste Management Program, as of 1/03.)


 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Oregon DEQ estimates that 87 pounds of mercury containing thermometers are discarded annually in Oregon.
(Source: DEQ’s Mercury Reduction Strategy, p. 10)


 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Most young adults have never seen elemental mercury, such as that found in a mercury fever thermometer. Mercury is intriguing in its liquid silver form, and technical assistance staff have found that people under 30 generally don’t realize it is hazardous.

 

Washington Mercury Chemical Action Plan (Feb. 2003)
Includes a state inventory of mercury releases and recommendations toward elimination
www.ecy.wa.gov/biblio/0303001.html

Oregon Mercury Reduction Strategy (Nov. 2002)
Presents annual estimated mercury inventories and releases, discussion of reduction activities and future reduction actions
www.deq.state.or.us/programs/MercuryReport.pdf

Mercury in King County (Nov. 2002)
This inventory and management plan examines certain mercury-added products and releases in King County, Washington
www.metrokc.gov/hazwaste/lhwmp/sqg_mercury_1.pdf

Mercury Topic Hubs
(General, Dentistry, Thermometers and Thermostats)
Each of these hubs provides useful background information, P2 opportunities & comprehensive lists of links on the topic
www.newmoa.org/Newmoa/htdocs/prevention/topichub

Alternatives to Mercury Containing Products (Jan. 2003)
Comprehensive evaluation of viable alternatives to mercury-containing products. Includes discussion and vendor lists for both mercury and mercury-free alternative products
www.state.me.us/dep/mercury/reports.htm

Mercury: On the Road to Zero (Dec. 2001)
This document is the Oregon Mercury Solution Team’s plan to eliminate the release of mercury from human activities in Oregon by 2020, and to reduce overall mercury exposure
www.orcouncil.org/reports/OEC Mercury Report.pdf

Mercury-Containing Products Database
Includes information on the amount and purpose of mercury in consumer products. Information is submitted by product manufacturers in compliance with mercury laws in the states of CT, ME, NH and RI
www.newmoa.org/prevention/mercury/imerc/notification

Guide for Developing Mercury Reduction Programs
Written by the National Wildlife Federation, this report is aimed to assist individuals, policymakers, businesses and communities in developing, implementing and strengthening mercury reduction initiatives
www.nwf.org/cleantherain/mercuryreport.html

Mercury in Schools
Includes information about mercury in schools and homes. Free curriculum for teachers available, as well as additional information about P2, collection, safety and legislation. Site includes a picture of Clancy, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s mercury-detecting dog
www.mercuryinschools.uwex.edu

Washington Toxics Coalition
Through its “Mercury Free Washington” campaign, this group provides information about state legislation, recent media, and additional sources of information on the topic
www.watoxics.org

Oregon Environmental Council
This group has actively worked with stakeholders to pass state legislation and bring mercury reduction solutions to businesses in the state
www.orcouncil.org/Pollution/Mercury.htm

P2 and Chemical Cleaners & Disinfectants
        What really works to safely clean and disinfect in health care settings? Are you cleaning and disinfecting to proper standards, without excess waste or cost? Are there better alternative products and methods? This half-day workshop will be useful for hospitals, clinics, veterinary offices, medical labs, and bio-tech companies, environmental services, health and safety, clinical, laboratory, and housekeeping staff. This event is presented by the Medical Industry Roundtable and will be held on May 14. To learn more, contact Cathy at cbuller@pprc.org or 206-352-2050.

Sustainable Purchasing Strategies Workshop
        Every organization has an opportunity to move toward sustainable practices by assessing and redesigning its purchasing policy. In this workshop, buyers will learn how to move beyond the familiar purchasing decision-making model of price, quality and delivery and begin to develop a buying process and vendor selection criteria that are aligned with sustainability and The Natural Step principles. The workshop will be at three different locations: April 29 in Portland, April 30 in Corvallis, and on May 1 in Seattle. For more information on the first 2 workshops in Oregon, call 503-241-1140 or visit www.ortns.org/events.htm. For information on the Seattle workshop, visit www.nbisnw.org.

Life Cycle Assessment/Management Conference
        The American Center for Life Cycle Assessment, The United Nations Environment Programme, and the City of Seattle are sponsoring this conference on Life Cycle Assessment and Management: InLCA/LCM 2003. The conference will focus on the application of life cycle tools in emerging markets, including services and the public sector. The newest thought in the field of life cycle assessment and life cycle management will be linked to progress in applying life cycle tools for purchasing, policy and product and service development. The conference will be held from September 23 - 25 in Seattle. Learn more at www.lcacenter.org/InLCA-LCM03.

New Journal on Sustainable NW Industries
        The new Sustainable Industries Journal Northwest provides highlights and news stories on an array of sustainability issues in the region. This month’s issue includes stories on organic foods, phytoremediation, “greenwashing,” and industry-specific news shorts. The publishers aim to move beyond the buzzword of “sustainability” and regularly cover topics of green building, transportation and tourism, manufacturing and technology, agriculture and natural resources, and other issues central to the evolving economic and environmental conditions and goals of the Northwest. Read highlights from current and past issues, and sign up for a free issue, at www.sijournal.com.

P2 Results Over the Last Decade
        This report evaluates state and local P2 program achievements over the last decade. It found that in almost every case, P2 efforts have been cost effective, saving millions of dollars annually, in addition to preventing at least 167 billion pounds of toxics. In 1998 alone, programs reported saving $256 million nationwide. Take a look at this new report from the National Pollution Prevention Roundtable at www.p2.org/p2results/2418_historyfinal.pdf.

New Sustainability Publications
        Two new documents highlight sustainability in Washington. “A Field Guide to Sustainability” presents an introduction to sustainability concepts and a framework for decision making. It discusses what it is, the emerging consensus for it, and why Washington should adopt a sustainable vision. It also features a sustainability checklist. Find it at www.ecy.wa.gov/biblio/0304005.html. “A New Path Forward: Action Plan for a Sustainable Washington” is a report to Governor Gary Locke by the Sustainability Advisory Panel recommending future actions for the state to pursue the development of jobs, industries, and the mindset for sustainable development. Take a look at this document at sustainableseattle.org/sustpanel/ANewPathFowardActionPlan.pdf.

Laboratories for the 21st Century
        Learn how to optimize the energy efficiency of your laboratory at a dynamic, one-day course. The Laboratories for the 21st Century (Labs21) “High Performance, Low-Energy Design Course” will address: architecture and engineering of high performance labs; energy-efficient design process; air supply and distribution systems; direct digital controls; commissioning; laboratory exhaust systems; case studies and more. The course will be held in Seattle on May 29, and in other cities across the country on other days. For more information, visit www.epa.gov/labs21century/training.

Sustainability Toolkit Offered for Businesses
        Norm Thompson Outfitters has developed a business Sustainability Toolkit and Scorecard that can be used to help companies move toward sustainability. The toolkit can help a company understand the implications of their product choices on the triple bottom line and drive corporate sustainability goals throughout an organization. The toolkit can play a role in staff training, performance evaluation, product development and merchandizing. It also provides a method for assessing the overall sustainability of product lines while offering flexibility to buyers and product designers. The toolkit can be downloaded for free from the Business for Social Responsibility website at www.bsr.org/BSRResources/EnvResources.cfm#sustaintool.

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PPRC
Practical solutions for big environmental problems
PPRC, a non-profit organization, is the Northwest's leading source of high quality, unbiased environmental solutions information. Through a collaborative approach, we focus on solutions that integrate resource efficiency and environmental health into business, government, and communities. Board of Directors:
President: Joan Cloonan, Northwest Food Processors Association, Boise
Vice President: Kirk Thompson, The Boeing Company, Seattle
Secretary: Jeffrey Leppo, Stoel Rives, LLP, Seattle
Acting Treasurer: Rod Brown, Marten & Brown LLP, Seattle
Cheryl Koshuta, Port of Portland, Portland Alan Schuyler, Phillips Alaska, Anchorage
Staff:
Chris Wiley, Executive Director
Cathy Buller,
  Events, Networking & Marketing Lead
Al Campbell, Administrative Assistant
Michelle Gaither, Technical Lead
Eun-Sook Goidel,
  Green Purchasing Program Manager
Ken Grimm,
  Industry Outreach Lead
L.B. Sandy Rock, MD, MPH,
  Environment & Health Research Director
Ana Simon, Chief Financial Officer
Crispin Stutman,
  Information Services Manager
Pollution Prevention Northwest is published three times a year by PPRC. Part or all of the newsletter may be copied. Articles may be reprinted or distributed electronically only in their entirety with written permission from PPRC. Please credit the author (if any), followed by "Pollution Prevention Northwest, PPRC." To receive a free electronic subscription, contact PPRC.
Editor: Crispin Stutzman Address: 513 1st Ave. W, Seattle, WA 98119
Telephone: 206-352-2050
Fax: 206-352-2049
E-mail: office@pprc.org

 

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