Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Representative Brian Fitzpatrick introduced the Comprehensive National Mercury Monitoring Act with Representatives Matt Cartwright (PA-08) and Brian Mast (FL-18). This bipartisan bill would help to inform where to target pollution reduction initiatives by establishing a national monitoring program to provide researchers with better data on the extent of mercury contamination in the U.S.
Mercury can impair the brain development of a child in utero. It is toxic to both adults and children, even in small amounts.
“Mercury poisoning is a major issue that disproportionately impacts new and unborn children. I am proud to support this bipartisan bill that will establish a comprehensive monitoring network and save countless lives as a result,” said Rep. Fitzpatrick.
“Protecting children from harmful toxins is a no-brainer, and I’m proud to introduce this bill with both Democratic and Republican support,” Rep. Cartwright said. “Mercury pollution is a serious environmental and public health concern, but right now, we don’t have strong enough data to tackle it. With a national monitoring program, we can take more informed actions to protect Americans from exposure to this toxic element.”
“More than half of fish and wildlife in the Everglades system are affected by toxic mercury and people in Florida are at some of the highest risk in the whole country for mercury poisoning. Infants and unborn children are particularly vulnerable,” Rep. Mast said. “But, despite the gravity of the issue, our country doesn’t have a comprehensive mercury monitoring network, and as a result, polluters get off without consequence. This bipartisan bill would mandate that monitoring so we can fight this toxic assault at the source.”
The CDC has found that between two and six percent of women in the U.S. of childbearing age have blood mercury levels higher than determined safe by the EPA, and approximately 200,000 children are born each year in the U.S. with blood mercury levels higher than what is considered safe as well.
Eating contaminated fish is primarily how Americans are exposed to mercury. Computer models and other assessment tools can be used to predict mercury levels in fish and can identify changes in mercury deposits in a region over time to help protect Americans. However, models differ in efficiency and there are not data sets available that are large enough to test model predictions.
Policymakers, scientists, and the public would benefit from a comprehensive national mercury monitoring network and could better understand the sources, consequences and trends in U.S. mercury pollution.
Summary of the Comprehensive National Mercury Monitoring Act:
- National Mercury Monitoring Program — directs EPA to establish a national mercury monitoring program to measure and monitor mercury levels in the air, water and soil, and in aquatic and terrestrial life.
- Mercury Monitoring Advisory Committee — directs EPA to establish a scientific Advisory Committee to guide the development and operations of the national mercury monitoring program.
- Multiple Monitoring Sites — directs EPA to select multiple monitoring sites representing multiple ecoregions of the U.S.
- Data Collection and Distribution — directs EPA to create a centralized database of environmental mercury data that can be freely accessed on the Internet.
This legislation has been endorsed by the League of Conservation Voters, American Lung Association, and Natural Resources Defense Council
Text of this legislation can be found HERE.