State Representative Melissa Hortman (Brooklyn Park/Coon Rapids) joined fellow House legislators this week to introduce legislation to reduce mercury pollution in Minnesota. The group cited concerns over the danger mercury contamination poses to the health of Minnesotans – especially our children – and the safety of our water and fish.
Legislation authored by Hortman encourages increased recycling of fluorescent light bulbs. Hortman's proposals would require utilities, lighting manufacturers and retailers to inform consumers that fluorescent light bulbs contain mercury.
"Most consumers don't know that fluorescent light bulbs contain mercury, or that it's against the law to throw them in the garbage," said Hortman. "By recycling fluorescent light bulbs, consumers can take 100 pounds of mercury out of Minnesota's environment every year."
Hortman is also a co-author of legislation to limit mercury emissions from coal-burning power plants in the state by 90% before 2012.
"It's important for us to conserve energy in order to reduce our reliance on coal-fired electric power – and to save money on our monthly electric bills. One way we can conserve energy is to use fluorescent bulbs. While it is important to use fluorescent bulbs, it is equally important to properly recycle the used bulbs."
"Mercury exposure can harm people, especially to children," said Hortman. "Mercury is a neurotoxin and can have a particularly dangerous effect on fetal development. Young children are 4 to 5 times more sensitive to mercury because their nervous systems are still developing."
Recycling fluorescent light bulbs is one way that individuals easily can contribute to reducing mercury in our environment, according to Hortman.
"I'm hoping that by making people aware that fluorescent light bulbs contain mercury, more people will be encouraged to recycle them," said Hortman.