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Cartwright Co-Leads Bipartisan Legislation to Monitor Toxic Mercury Pollution in the U.S.

U.S. Representatives Matt Cartwright (D-PA-08), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA-01) and Brian Mast (R-FL-21) introduced the Comprehensive National Mercury Monitoring Act in the 118th Congress. This bipartisan bill would establish a national monitoring program to provide researchers with better data on the extent of mercury contamination in the U.S., helping to inform where to target pollution reduction initiatives.

Mercury is toxic to humans, even in small amounts. It has adverse effects on both children and adults, and it can impair the brain development of a child in utero, leading to birth defects.

“Protecting children from harmful toxins is a no-brainer, and I’m proud to introduce this bill with both Democratic and Republican support,” said Congressman Cartwright. “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.”

“We must receive more data on mercury poisoning in order to protect all Americans from these harsh toxins,” said Congressman Fitzpatrick. “That is why I’m proud to support this bipartisan bill to establish a national comprehensive monitoring program that will provide researchers with accurate data on the extent of mercury contamination in the United States.”

“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,” said Congressman Mast. “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.” 

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 is a companion bill to one introduced in the U.S. Senate by Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Tom Carper (D-DE). It is supported by the American Lung Association (ALA) and the League of Conservation Voters (LCV).

“Mercury is a powerful neurotoxin that is detrimental to health," said Harold Wimmer, President and CEO of the American Lung Association. "Mercury is of particular concern to infant health as it can lead to developmental birth defects and interfere with neurological development, even from exposure while in the womb. Combined with efforts to reduce air toxics emissions at the Environmental Protection Agency, which we hope to see finalized very soon, this legislation will improve health outcomes for some of the most vulnerable populations."

Text of this legislation can be found HERE.