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Canada to restrict mercury products

By Laura Brown - 02 Mar 2011 20:52:0 GMT
Canada to restrict mercury products

Canadians are being asked to consider a ban on products that contact mercury arguing they damage children's development.

Thermometers, thermostats, batteries and fluorescent bulbs would all be taken off the shelves if the regulation proposed by Minister of the Environment Peter Kent in a bill this week.

In a joint endeavour with the Minister of Health, Leona Aglukkaq, the proposal calls for the start of a regulatory process stopping the manufacture, import and sale of most goods that contain mercury in Canada.

Minister Kent argues the prohibition would eliminate around four and a half tonnes of mercury within the Canadian market.

Mercury is one of the most harmful toxins affecting the environment. It is absorbed by organisms like fish and becomes more concentrated as it works it way up the food chain.

When ingested, methylmercury can impact the neuro-development and learning ability of young children.

Minister Aglukkaq supported the move arguing ''keeping products that contain mercury out of the marketplace helps protect the health of Canadians''.

While broadly approved, the impact of the regulations on manufacturers would be extensive. The government wants improved labelling to make it much clearer to consumers of mercury is present in a product. Similarly, in goods like fluorescent lamps that contain mercury and would need to be disposed of, the government wants manufacturers to take the lead and responsibility on the process.

The country has until 12 May to comment on the proposal.