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Searching 2021-2022 Session

The Vermont Statutes Online


Title 10 : Conservation and Development


(Cite as: 10 V.S.A. § 7101)
  • § 7101. Legislative findings

    The General Assembly finds and declares that:

    (1) Mercury is a persistent and toxic pollutant that bioaccumulates in the environment and poses a serious threat to humans, particularly young children and the developing fetus, and wildlife.

    (2) Recent EPA research concludes that 16 percent of American women of childbearing age have unsafe mercury blood levels, and that the annual number of newborn infants at risk in the United States is 630,000.

    (3) The primary means of human exposure to mercury is the consumption of contaminated fish and shellfish.

    (4) Vermont and all other northeastern states have issued Statewide fish consumption mercury contamination advisories that recommend limiting or avoiding the consumption of certain freshwater fish caught locally.

    (5) While the Vermont Departments of Environmental Conservation, Fish and Wildlife, and Health have undertaken a long-term collaboration to monitor and report on fish tissue mercury in Vermont waters, most lakes and streams remain untested. Of the 560 lakes and ponds tracked by the Department of Environmental Conservation, only 60 of the largest have been monitored for fish mercury. For inland lakes, this corresponds to 51 percent of the lake acreage in Vermont. Only 22 river or stream sites have been tested for fish mercury. This current monitoring approach is not designed to track changes in fish mercury over time in response to management actions and does not address mercury impacts on fish-eating wildlife.

    (6) The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Vermont Department of Health recommend limiting the consumption of certain commercial saltwater fish, including canned tuna.

    (7) Human exposure to mercury can result in nervous system, kidney, and liver damage and impaired childhood development.

    (8) There has been a threefold increase in mercury loading to the environment over the past 150 years. Much of the mercury deposited from the atmosphere is from human and natural sources, but anthropogenic emissions exceed those that occur naturally.

    (9) More than one-half of the mercury deposition is from out-of-region sources, with the largest being coal-burning power plants (utility boilers) and industrial boilers.

    (10) While mercury-added switches have been eliminated from currently manufactured U.S. and foreign manufactured motor vehicles, mercury-added switches are still prevalent in end-of-life motor vehicles previously manufactured. Collection programs for these vehicle switches at end-of-life of the vehicle have proven to be a feasible method to reduce a significant source of mercury release to the region.

    (11) Implementation of the 1998 New England Governors and Eastern Canadian Premiers Mercury Action Plan has led to a decrease in regional mercury emissions of more than 55 percent- primarily due to emissions controls on municipal combustors and medical waste incinerators, both of which burn discarded mercury-added products.

    (12) The New England Governors and Eastern Canadian Premiers have set an interim goal in the Mercury Action Plan of 75 percent reduction in anthropogenic emissions by 2010. Achieving this goal will require further reduction measures from in-region combustion sources such as power plants, industrial and commercial boilers, and sewage sludge incinerators, and will require reducing mercury releases that occur through disposal and breakage of products that contain mercury.

    (13) Many of the states in the region, including Connecticut, Maine, New York, and Rhode Island, have adopted comprehensive mercury-added product legislation to identify and eliminate unnecessary uses of mercury.

    (14) Significant use of mercury-added products occurs in health care facilities, schools, and dental practices, in all of which mercury use or release reduction is technically and economically feasible.

    (15) The Mercury Task Force of the Conference of New England Governors and Eastern Canadian Premiers adopted a goal to reduce dental wastewater discharges of mercury by having 50 percent of dentists install amalgam separators in each state or jurisdiction by the end of 2005.

    (16) In 1998, the Vermont General Assembly passed legislation requiring labeling of mercury-added products and banned the disposal of these labeled products in landfills. The Agency and municipal solid waste districts implemented numerous mercury education and reduction programs to reduce mercury use in products and to collect spent mercury-added products for proper recycling and disposal. Public education is essential to reducing improper disposal of spent mercury-added products.

    (17) Vermont's mercury product legislation passed in 1998 does not comprehensively restrict the sale and use of mercury-added products.

    (18) Studies conducted for the State of Maine show that mercury-free alternatives exist for a majority of the thousands of products containing mercury components. These products include thermometers, thermostats, flow meters, barometers, manometers, medical devices, and electrical switches and relays.

    (19) Studies conducted for the State of Maine show that manufacturers are beginning to market mercury-free versions of all types of mercury-added button cell and other miniature batteries.

    (20) Novelty products using mercury have been banned from sale in several states.

    (21) Citizens of Vermont, the Vermont environment, and the Agency will benefit from comprehensive mercury product legislation that further reduces mercury emissions and is consistent with model mercury product legislation developed jointly by the northeast states. (Added 2005, No. 13, § 1.)