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EPA Response to Kucinich Over Crematory

EPA Response to Kucinich Over Crematory

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Published by Mercury Exposure
EPA Response to Kucinich Over Crematory
EPA Response to Kucinich Over Crematory

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Published by: Mercury Exposure on Jun 29, 2012
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06/29/2012

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UNITEDSTATESENVIRONMENTALPROTECTIONAG.ENCYWASHINGTON,
D.C.
20460
APR052010
OFFICEOFCONGRESSIONALANDINTERGOVERNMENTALRELATIONS
TheHonorableDennis
J.
KucinichChairmanSubcommitteeonDomesticPolicyCommitteeonOversightandGovernmentReformWashington,D.C.20515DearMr.Chairman:ThankyouforyourletterdatedJanuary15,2010,totheUnitedStatesEnvironmentalProtectionAgency(EPA),concerningdentalfillingsasasourceofmercurypollution,andparticularly,theatmosphericemissionsofmercuryrelatedtodentaluseofmercury.Ishareyourdesiretoreducemercuryintheenvironmentandappreciateyourcontinuedinterestinthisparticularaspectoftheproblem.Inthisresponseletter,IwouldliketodescribewhattheAgencyiscurrentlydoingtoaddressmercuryintheenvironmentandinparticularwhatwearedoingtoaddressmercuryemissionfactorsthatareofparticularinteresttoyouandthemembersoftheDomesticPolicySubcommittee.WewillkeepyouandtheSubcommitteeapprisedofoureffortsaswecontinueourworkonupdatingthesefactors.
EPAisaddressingtheissueofmercuryintheenvironmentbroadly
Addressingdomesticandglobalmercuryconcernsisatoppriorityof
the
Agency.EPArecognizesthatpollutionfromallsourcesofmercuryisaseriousconcerntohumanhealthandtheenvironment.Mercuryiswell-documentedasatoxic,environmentallypersistentsubstancethatdemonstratestheabilitytobioaccumulateandtobeatmosphericallytransportedonalocal,regional,andglobalscale.Inaddition,mercurycanbeenvironmentallytransformedintomethylmercurywhichbiomagnifiesandishighlytoxic.Assuch,EPAiscurrentlyworkingtoaddressmercuryinvariousmedia,includingatmosphericemissions,aquaticdischarges,solidandhazardouswastes,andmanufactureofmercurycontainingproducts.EPA'sOfficeofPrevention,Pesticides,andToxicSubstancespublishedEPA's
RoadmapforMercury
inJuly2006,asaclearstatementofEPA'scommitmenttoaddressmercuryintheenvironmentforthepublicanditsstakeholders.AssummarizedinEPA's
RoadmapforMercury,
EPAhasalonghistoryofaddressingmercury.Between1970and1990,therewasincreasingscientificevidenceofmercurypollutionproblemsintheUnited
IntemetAddress
(URL).
Recycled/Recycla'blePrlmedwithVegetableOilBasedInks
011
RecycledPaper(Minimum25%Postconsurner)
 
States.Thisevidenceincludedserioushealthimpactsfromlow-levelexposuretomercury,increasingamountsofmercurypollutioninair,water,andwaste,increasinghumanexposuretomercurythroughfishconsumption,andtheenormousproblemoflocal,regional,nationalandglobaltransportofmercurypollution.Toaddressanumberoftheseproblems,theComprehensiveEnvironmentalResponse,Compensation,andLiabilityAct(CERCLA)wasenactedin1980,providingauthoritytocleanuppastwaste.Followingthat,theCleanAirActof1990providedauthoritytoaddressmercuryairemissionsatkeysources.In1995,theGreatLakesWaterQualityGuidanceprovidedwaterqualitystandardstoaddressmercuryinthatmedia.The1996BatteryActfollowedsoonafter,introducingmercuryregulationsintheareaofproductsandmanufacturing,Sincethattime,EPAhashelpedtoshapeandenforcemercury-pertinentprovisionsofenvironmentalstatutes,aswellasspearheaddomesticinitiativestostudyandreducetheharmfuleffectsofmercuryinenvironment.Inoneofourmostimportanteffortstoaddressmercury,EPA'sOfficeofAirandRadiationisdevelopingaruletocontroltoxicairemissionsincludingmercuryfrompowerplants,Since2005,somepowerplantshavebeenabletoachieve90percentorgreaterreductions-bothindemonstrationprojectsandactualcommercialoperation.EPAiscurrentlysolicitinginformationfromtheelectricutilityindustrythatwillprovideactualoperatingexperienceatanumberoffacilitiesandprovidethebasisforrequiringmaximumachievablecontroltechnologies,BecauseamajorportionofmercuryintheU.S.environmentcomesfromsourcesoutsidetheU.S.,EPAhassupportedandledeffortstoaddressmercuryinmultilateraltreaties,UndertheUnitedNationsEconomicConventionforEuropeConventionforLong-RangeTransboundaryAirPollutionProtocol(LRTAP),EPAsupportednegotiationsin1998oftheLRTAPHeavyMetalsProtocolwhichwassubsequentlyratifiedbytheU,S.ThisProtocolincludeslimitationsanddeadlinesforemissionsfornewandexistingstationarysourcesaswellasmandatorymercuryconcentrationslimitsforcertaintypesofbatteries,EPAalsosupportedinternationaleffortstoaddressmercuryreductioneffortsin2001-2002bycontributingscientificexpertise,leadership,andfundingtotheUnitedNationsEnvironmentProgram's(UNEP's)2002
GlobalMercury
Assessment.Subsequently,theUNEPGoverningCouncilin2003mandatedtheGlobalMercuryProgram.In2005,theUNEPGlobalMercuryPartnershipwaslaunchedwithsignificantsupportfromtheUnitedStates,andfromEPAinparticular,Weprovideasignificantamountofthefunding,leadtwoofthepartnershipareas,andsupportawiderangeofprojectsacrossthePartnershipasawhole.Sincethe2009decisionbytheUNEPGoverningCounciltonegotiateaglobalmercurytreatyby2013,EPAhasprovidedtechnicalexpertiseandpolicyguidancethroughouttheprocessandwewillcontributesignificantlyasmembersoftheU,S,negotiatingteam.Currently,EPAisfollowingthroughonthecommitmentsmadeinthe
RoapmapforMercury,
includingtheuseofregulatoryauthorityundertheToxicSubstancesControlAct(TSCA)toreduceoreliminatetheuseofelementalmercuryincertainproducts,includingbothexistingand,obsoleteproducts,EPAalsoprovidesstrongleadershiptotheUNEP
-2-
 
GlobalMercuryPartnershipandtechnicalexpertisetotheLRTAPTaskForceforHeavyMetals.Inthefuture,EPAlooksforwardtoparticipatingintheIntergovernmentalNegotiatingCommitteethatwillbegintheprocessofdevelopinglegallybindinginstrumenttoaddressglobalmercuryissues.Thoseactions,aswellastheconveningoftheCommodityMercuryStakeholderWorkgrouptoinformthedevelopmentandtosupporttheimplementationoftheMercuryExportBanof2008,demonstrateasolidcommitmenttoaddressmercury-relatedissues.Notwithstandingthesesuccesses,themercurychallengeismulti-facetedandwithoutsimplesolutions.Wecontinuetoprovidegloballeadershipthroughourongoingeffortstoaddressdomesticandglobalmercurydemandasameanstoreduceriskstohumanhealthandtheenvironment.Assessing
theamountofmercurypollutionattributabletodentalmercury
BasedonNationalEmissionInventorydata,EPAestimatedunintentionalairemissionsofmercuryfromsourcecategoriesrelatedtowastecombustionandincineration.Atthistime,therearelimitedatmosphericemissionsestimatesformercury-containingproductcategories,includingdentalamalgam.Forexample,available1990and2005NEIdatacontainmercuryemissionsestimatesfor"Other(numerousverysmallsources),"butdoesnotquantifyemissionsbyspecificmercury-containingitemsorsub-categories.In2005,estimatedemissionsfromthe"Other(numerousverysmallsources)"categorywere16.9tons(16.5percent)of102.7tonstotalU.S.anthropogenicmercuryairemissions.Similarglobalestimatesdonotaccountforemissionsspecificallylinkedtodentalamalgam.However,in2005,thetotalestimateofglobalmercuryemissionswas1,930metrictons.Categoriesapplicabletodentalamalgam,"Cremation"
(l
percent)and"Wasteincinerationandother"(7percent)accountedforapproximately154metrictons.DentalamalgamuseintheU.S.isgraduallydecliningbecausetheincidenceofdentaldecayisdecreasingandbecauseimprovedsubstitutematerialsarenowavailableforcertainapplications.
In
2001thetotalamountofdentalmercurysoldannuallyintheU.S.was27.9metrictons.Dentalmercuryusedecreasedslightlyto27.6metrictonsin2003,but
by
2007haddeclinedsteeplyto14.9metrictons,adecreaseof46percentoverthreeyears.Asof2007,dentalamalgamremainedthesecondlargestcategoryofmercuryuseinallproducts(afterswitchesandrelays),constitutingabout24percentofmercuryinallproductssoldintheU.S.thatyear.(InterstateMercuryEducationandReductionClearinghousefactsheet:
MercuryUseinDentalAmalgam,
January2010)Unlikeothermercury-addedproducts,therearenostaterestrictionsonthesaleordistributionofdentalamalgam.Atthenationallevel,dentalamalgamisregulatedasamedicaldevicebytheFoodandDrugAdministration(FDA)undertheFederalFood,DrugandCosmeticAct.Increasedconsumerawarenessofthepresenceofmercuryinamalgamfillingsmaydrivefuturedeclinesinmercuryamalgamuse;however,theexpenseofnon-mercuryfillingscanaffectpatients'preferencesfordentalrestorativematerials.
-3-

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