Mercury Pollution – Ban on Mercury Thermometers – Ann Arbor, MI

Date: 12 Jan 2009 | posted in: environment | 0 Facebooktwitterredditmail

On July 10, 2000, the City Council of Ann Arbor, Michigan, approved a new Ordinance to addChapter 69 Mercury Thermometers (Ordinance No. 31-00) to the city code – effective as of July 26, 2000.

The new ordinance bans the retail sale, importation and manufacture of mercury fever thermometers within the city limits. Ann Arbor becomes the first city in Michigan and the second in the Great Lakes basin to enact such an ordinance. The city of Duluth, Minn. and the City and county of San Francisco passed similar measures earlier in 2000.

AnnArbor’s ban is consistent with many national mercury elimination initiatives in healthcare. Mercury thermometers are not used or dispensed at the University of Michigan Health System or St. Joseph Mercy Hospital, and both institutions have pledged to eliminate mercury and mercury waste in their medical practices. Elsewhere in Michigan, spectrum health care in Grand Rapids has gained national attention for its efforts to go mercury-free.

In addition to state-level initiatives, in 1998, the Environmental Protection Agency and the American Hospital Association signed a memorandum of understanding with a goal of virtually eliminating mercury from healthcare.

More Information:

Full Text of the Ann Arbor Municipal Code on Mercury Thermometers:


6:300. Findings.

The City Council finds as follows:

(1) Mercury is a persistent and toxic pollutant that bioaccumulates in the environment and in the food chain;

(2)Combustion of medical, municipal and other solid waste, which contains whole or broken mercury thermometers, is a major source of atmospheric deposition of mercury resulting in mercury contamination of air and water;

(3) Mercury from mercury thermometers can also enter the environment, including the watersheds, rivers and lakes in and around the City of Ann Arbor, directly through vaporization and/or spillage when a thermometer breaks during use, transportation or disposal;

(4) The effect of mercury on the central nervous system includes tremors, impaired vision and hearing, paralysis, insomnia, emotional instability, developmental deficits during fetal development, attention deficit, and developmental delays during childhood;

(5) Due to the bioaccumulation of mercury in fish, the Michigan Department of Community Health has issued fish consumption advisories for every inland lake in Michigan, including lakes in Washtenaw County. The advisories recommend that the general population of adults should eat no more than one meal per week of many types of sport fish from these lakes and that women of childbearing age and children under age 15 should not eat more than one meal per month of these fish;

(6) Several states and cities around the world have demonstrated that removal of mercury-containing products, such as mercury thermometers, from the waste stream is an effective way to reduce mercury contamination. The U. S. Environmental Protection Agency, the American Hospital Association and the American Public Health Association are currently implementing programs to eliminate mercury waste;

(7)Mercury thermometers are not currently used or dispensed at either the University of Michigan Health System or St. Joseph Mercy Hospital, and both institutions have pledged to eliminate mercury and mercury waste in their medical practices; and
(8) There are accurate and safe alternatives to mercury thermometers that are readily available and comparable in cost.
(Ord. No. 31-00, § 1, 7-10-00)

6:301. Definitions.
(1) Mercury thermometer means a mercury-containing product that is used to measure human body temperature.
(2) Mercury-containing product means a product, device, instrument or equipment into which elemental mercury or mercury compounds are intentionally added during its formulation or manufacture and in which the continued presence of mercury is desired to provide a specific characteristic or to permit a specific function.
(Ord. No. 31-00, § 1, 7-10-00)

6:302. Retail sale prohibited.
It shall be unlawful for any person who owns, conducts, operates or manages a retail commercial establishment to sell or offer for retail sale any mercury thermometer in the City.
(Ord. No. 31-00, § 1, 7-10-00)

6:303. Manufacturing prohibited.
It shall be unlawful for any person to manufacture a mercury thermometer in the City of Ann Arbor.
(Ord. No. 31-00, § 1, 7-10-00)

6:304. Importation prohibited.
It shall be unlawful for any medical facility, including a hospital, medical laboratory or health care provider, to import, purchase, or distribute a mercury thermometer in the City.
(Ord. No. 31-00, § 1, 7-10-00)

6:305. Penalty.
A person convicted of violating any provision of this chapter shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of not more than $500.00 and by imprisonment for 90 days.
(Ord. No. 31-00, § 1, 7-10-00)