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Mercury in the EnvironmentPattern and Process$
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Michael Bank

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780520271630

Published to California Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520271630.001.0001

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Integrating Mercury Science and Environmental Policy: A State Perspective

Integrating Mercury Science and Environmental Policy: A State Perspective

(p.317) Chapter 16 Integrating Mercury Science and Environmental Policy: A State Perspective
Mercury in the Environment

C. Mark Smith

University of California Press

Persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic (PBT) pollutants are of concern to environmental and public health policy makers because of their adverse multigenerational effects, which often range far beyond their site of initial release. PBTs, like mercury, that cause neurodevelopmental effects raise additional concerns because of their long-term individual and societal impacts, particularly on children, as well as the ethical consideration of the involuntary nature of the exposure. These attributes underpin the priority status that many states have given mercury pollution, and their focus on precautionary approaches to the issue. Mercury is also subject to atmospheric transport with both long-range and near-field deposition. Atmospheric transport creates important geopolitical policy issues for many states and countries, especially for northeastern states, where local and regional pollution reduction efforts have proven insufficient to address the impacts of many air pollutants from upwind sources. In the United States, innovative environmental policies are frequently initiated at the state level, since federal environmental statutes allow states, in most instances, to establish regulations more stringent than those adopted federally. Concerned by widespread mercury contamination and what many perceive as insufficient federal efforts to reduce mercury pollution over the past decade, the states have taken a leadership role. This chapter highlights some state-level mercury initiatives underway and the roles of science and monitoring in informing and guiding these efforts.

Keywords:   mercury policy, mercury regulations, New England Governors and Eastern Canadian Premiers Mercury Action Plan, Quick Silver Caucus, QSC, fish consumption advisories, mercury emission reductions

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