News From Senator Joyce

For Immediate Release:      Further Information:

March 13, 2002      Marie Blanchard (617) 722-1643


Senator Brian A. Joyce is pleased to announce that Acting Governor Swift has signed into law a bill that will prohibit the sale or use of mercury fever thermometers, except in cases of medical necessity. 

Co-sponsored by Senator Joyce, the bill is designed to limit mercury pollution which is a health and financial concern. Mercury-related birth defects and nervous system damage cause increased health care and special education costs. 

Often, mercury enters the environment through the incineration of solid waste and is deposited in local rivers, lakes and streams in the form of precipitation. Today, eighty-three percent of New England's water bodies are polluted with mercury.  

Medically necessary thermometers are exempted from this bill. In some cases, such as neonatal units, mercury fever thermometers must be used to ensure exact measurements. Medically necessary thermometers would require clear labels describing careful handling and proper clean up. The small amount of mercury contained in the batteries that power electronic thermometers, as well as mercury thermometers currently on store shelves are also exempted. These new measures will take effect immediately.