Groups Aim to Rid Cars of Toxic Mercury

July 5, 2001
The Clean Car Campaign, a coalition of 26 environmental groups, is\r\ncalling on Ford and other automakers to remove toxic mercury from\r\nvehicles in for service, repair or recall.

The Clean Car Campaign, a coalition of 26 environmental groups, is calling on Ford and other automakers to remove toxic mercury from vehicles in for service, repair or recall.

The campaign also endorses a similar call by 26 state attorneys general urging Ford to remove mercury-containing devices as part of their Firestone tire recall.

Mercury is a potent toxic chemical that can cause brain, lung and kidney damage in humans.

The substance has been used in switches for hoods and truck convenience lighting, and in other devices, becoming a contaminant when vehicles are scrapped.

The Clean Car Campaign sent letters to the heads of Ford, DaimlerChrysler and General Motors asking the auto industry to show leadership in getting the toxic substance out of the environment by having dealers remove switches for free when vehicles come in for service.

"It''s time for automakers to take responsibility for the environmental hazards of their vehicles," said Charles Griffith, Auto Project director at the Ecology Center. "By replacing these mercury switches they can protect the environment and consumers with a simple, affordable fix."

Concerns about exposure to mercury have grown in recent years, with many states and stores banning mercury thermometers.

More than 40 states have issued fish consumption advisories for mercury, and the National Academy of Sciences 2000 mercury report found that more than 60,000 children may suffer from exposure to mercury while the womb.

The Clean Car Campaign proposes a national program for collecting up to 90 percent of the mercury switches now on the road, that includes working with both auto dealers and recyclers.

The campaign released two reports earlier this year that document the continued use of mercury in automobiles and snow automobiles to be one of the nation''s largest sources of airborne mercury emissions, just behind power plants and incinerators.

Estimates suggest that up to 10 tons of toxic mercury may be released each year when vehicles are scrapped; nearly 200 tons of mercury are contained in vehicles currently on the road.

by Virginia Sutcliffe

About the Author

EHS Today Staff

EHS Today's editorial staff includes:

Dave Blanchard, Editor-in-Chief: During his career Dave has led the editorial management of many of Endeavor Business Media's best-known brands, including IndustryWeekEHS Today, Material Handling & LogisticsLogistics Today, Supply Chain Technology News, and Business Finance. In addition, he serves as senior content director of the annual Safety Leadership Conference. With over 30 years of B2B media experience, Dave literally wrote the book on supply chain management, Supply Chain Management Best Practices (John Wiley & Sons, 2021), which has been translated into several languages and is currently in its third edition. He is a frequent speaker and moderator at major trade shows and conferences, and has won numerous awards for writing and editing. He is a voting member of the jury of the Logistics Hall of Fame, and is a graduate of Northern Illinois University.

Adrienne Selko, Senior Editor: In addition to her roles with EHS Today and the Safety Leadership Conference, Adrienne is also a senior editor at IndustryWeek and has written about many topics, with her current focus on workforce development strategies. She is also a senior editor at Material Handling & Logistics. Previously she was in corporate communications at a medical manufacturing company as well as a large regional bank. She is the author of Do I Have to Wear Garlic Around My Neck?, which made the Cleveland Plain Dealer's best sellers list.

Nicole Stempak, Managing Editor:  Nicole Stempak is managing editor of EHS Today and conference content manager of the Safety Leadership Conference.

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