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Legislative Issue: Reducing Mercury Pollution
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18, 2006

Mercury is harmful not only to the environment but to people as well. Therefore, reducing the sources of mercury in order to reduce its negative impact has become part of the CCE campaign this session. Please read the article below to find out more!

 Mercury is a potent neurotoxin that has been linked to numerous learning and developmental disorders. Mercury is particularly dangerous as it accumulates in fish and works its way up the food chain. The problem is so acute in Maryland that the state has issued mercury fish consumption advisories covering every lake and river in the state.  These advisories warn people to avoid or limit their consumption of certain types of fish, which hurts the local economy. Recreational fishing brought in $480,185,000 to Maryland’s economy, according to 2001 data.  One source of this pollution is mercury-containing thermostats.  When these thermostats are improperly disposed in a landfill or incinerated the mercury released poses a serious threat to public health. 

A recent study estimated that in 2000, 4 million plus mercury thermostats were sold in the U.S., containing approximately 15 metric tons of mercury. In that same year, an estimated 9.1 million mercury thermostats were removed from buildings, containing over 33 metric tons of mercury.   New programmable digital thermostats, readily available from heating contractors and hardware stores, are more cost effective than mercury thermostats and can save consumers large amounts of energy because of their functional settings. 

Legislation titled Mercury-Added Products – Prohibition of Sale of Thermostats would ban the sale of mercury thermostats in Maryland.  This is part of a nationwide campaign to curb mercury pollution by reducing mercury use in consumer products.  Numerous states, including Rhode Island, California, Main and Connecticut have already banned mercury thermostats.


For more information:

Chris Fick, MaryPIRG, 410-467-0439,

Jenn Aiosa, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, 410-268-8833,

Margaret McHale, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, 410-268-8833, 

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