This week, to mark the United Nations’ launch of the first Minamata Convention on Mercury, the Washington Department of Ecology wrote a blog post highlighting the ways in which the state is addressing concerns over mercury use.
In 2003, Washington’s Legislature passed the Mercury Education and Reduction Act (MERA), which bans the sale of some mercury-containing products like thermometers. Since then, the state has passed various laws requiring the phase-out or removal of mercury in activities and materials like coal burning, soil, and light bulbs. While some mercury measurements are dropping, Ecology’s studies of mercury in fish show that levels are steady or slightly rising in most water bodies tested. Ecology hopes the launch of the Convention will enable a broader effort to reduce the toxic threat.