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Call to ban mercury in thermometers.

A ban on mercury in thermometers was urged by the European Commission yesterday. The chemical element should go because it is highly toxic to humans, ecosystems and wildlife, EU industry Commissioner Gunter Verheugen said.

The recommendation to halt the marketing of mercury in new fever and room thermometers, barometers and blood pressure gauges will have to be approved by EU governments before it can take effect.

Mr Verheugen said, 'This measure will reduce the amount of toxic mercury entering the waste stream.

'This is good for our citizens' health and the environment.

'At the same time we create a more coherent and stable legal framework for industry which will be encouraged to develop suitable alternatives.'

An estimated 33 tons of mercury are used every year in 'measuring and control devices' produced in the EU - up to 30 tons of it in household thermometers, many of which end up in landfill sites, with potential long-term seepage effects on the environment.

Mercury compounds were very common in early medicine, but their use declined as their toxicity was recognised.

The proposal, part of an EU 'Mercury Strategy' the Commission launched last year, now goes to EU government ministers and Euro-MPs for approval.
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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Feb 22, 2006
Words:199
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