ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — While health and environmental groups are praising the Environmental Protection Agency for reining in mercury emissions from power plants, a New York group says discarded thermostats remain a major source of mercury contamination in the state.
Laura Haight of the New York Public Interest Research Group noted a day after the EPA’s Dec. 21 announcement that the rule doesn't apply to trash incinerators. She cited state Department of Environmental Conservation data showing incinerators release even more mercury than coal-fired power plants in New York.
Mercury is highly toxic to the brain and nervous system, especially for developing infants and children. The state Health Department has issued health warnings against consuming fish from the Catskills, Adirondacks, and nearly 100 water bodies elsewhere in the state because of mercury contamination.
As little as 1 gram of airborne mercury a year can, over time, contaminate fish in a 20-acre lake, according to the Interstate Mercury Education and Reduction Clearinghouse, a waste management industry program.
Several states, including Maine and Vermont, have passed laws requiring manufacturers to collect discarded mercury thermostats. But similar legislation in New York State has failed to pass for the last two years. The Public Interest group blames heavy lobbying by manufacturers, especially Honeywell Corp., which made most of the old thermostats now being discarded.
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