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RESOLUTION

FIRST STEP TO A MERCURY-FREE LOS ANGELES


WHEREAS, elementary mercury and mercury compounds are known to be toxic and hazardous to human health and the environment; and

WHEREAS, mercury vapor released into the atmosphere is readily absorbed by inhalation and passes through the bloodstream to the central nervous system; and,

WHEREAS, mercury, when released into the environment, is transformed via bacterial metabolism into methyl-mercury, a compound which accumulates and moves up through the food chain in fish and wildlife; and

WHEREAS, most mercury exposure in humans occur through consumption of fish; and

WHEREAS, methyl-mercury is known to adversely affect the nervous and reproductive systems of humans, with particular danger to pregnant women and children due to its damaging effects on the developing brain; and

WHEREAS, mercury is also used in consumer and medical products, which accounts for approximately 30% of the 158 tons of human-generated mercury emissions released annually to the atmosphere in the United States; and

WHEREAS, mercury bearing products include old alkaline batteries and some button batteries, fluorescent and high-intensity discharge lamps, thermostat gauges and switches, thermometers, sphygmomanometers, laboratory agents, amalgam dental fillings, chemistry sets, and older toys and games; and

WHEREAS, effective and appropriate alternatives are currently available for most consumer and medical products containing mercury; and

WHEREAS, pollution prevention is recognized as the most effective way to protect human and environmental health; and

WHEREAS, the American Hospital Association entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the United States Environmental Protection Agency on January 24, 1998 calling for the virtual elimination of mercury waste by 2005; and

WHEREAS, the American Public Health Association passed a resolution on November 10, 1999 urging all health care facilities to promptly eliminate mercury-containing waste from incinerator feedstock and encouraged community-based mercury reduction efforts; and

WHEREAS, the California Medical Association passed a resolution on January 15, 2000 encouraging medical institutions to adopt policies that will lead to the eventual elimination of mercury containing products where feasible, effective alternatives are available; and

WHEREAS, highly effective programs for the virtual elimination of mercury from hospital waste through the use of mercury-free alternative products, pollution prevention strategies and appropriate disposal techniques have been initiated in the United States; and

WHEREAS, the States of New Hampshire and Minnesota, and the City and County of San Francisco recently adopted legislation banning or restricting the sale, import or manufacture of mercury products within their respective jurisdictions; and

WHEREAS, a number of California hospitals, including UCLA Medical Center, Kaiser Permanente, and Catholic Healthcare West, have committed to eliminating mercury from their facilities; and

WHEREAS, Rite-Aid pharmacies have pledged to stop selling mercury thermometers; and

WHEREAS, hospitals, clinics, and other medical facilities throughout Los Angeles currently use medical products which contain mercury and ultimately generate atmospheric and organic mercury toxins; and

WHEREAS, many retail establishments still sell mercury thermometers, even though mercury-free alternatives, such as digital or alcohol thermometers, are readily available.

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Los Angeles City Council urges all hospitals, clinics, and other medical facilities within the City to eliminate the purchase and use of products containing mercury whenever feasible and effective alternatives are available, and to promptly eliminate mercury from the medical waste stream through proper disposal and recycling procedures; and

THEREFORE BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Los Angeles City Council urges all retail establishments within the City to replace any and all thermometers, toys, games, and other products for sale to the public that may contain mercury with mercury-free alternatives; and,

THEREFORE BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Los Angeles City Council urges the County of Los Angeles to take the same steps to eliminate the purchase and use of mercury products in the County of Los Angeles, if other effective alternatives are available; and

THEREFORE BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Los Angeles City Council intends to continue to pursue this issue and may take further steps to implement this resolution to eliminate the mercury and mercury pollution.

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