INTRODUCTION OF THE CHILDREN'S MERCURY EXPOSURE ACT OF 2007 -- (Extensions of Remarks - June 22, 2007)
* Mr. LoBIONDO. Madam Speaker, today I am introducing the ``Children's Mercury Exposure Act of 2007'' along with my colleague, Representative Robert E. Andrews. This necessary and important piece of legislation will establish a program of research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) regarding the risks posed by all levels of exposure of children to mercury from mercury contaminated industrial sites; require the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), working in coordination with state departments of health, to conduct a study on the prevalence of the exposure of children to mercury from mercury contaminated industrial sites and present to Congress a preliminary report of the prevalence of such occurrences 1 year from the date of enactment; and provide block grants through CDC to state departments of health to conduct initial and long-term testing of children exposed to mercury from mercury-contaminated industrial sites.
* I introduce this legislation today as a direct result of an incident that occurred last summer in my Congressional District. Last July, to my amazement and disbelief, I learned that a day care center in Franklin Township, New Jersey had been opened mistakenly on a site that was previously used by a thermometer manufacturer with a history of mercury contamination and had not been properly cleaned up. As a result of this, children who innocently played on the grounds and slept on the floors of he day care were diagnosed with mercury contamination.
* I worked with the CDC and state agencies to ensure that these children received the testing and care they needed and deserved, but there were many questions that could not be answered about the risks to these children and children like them who were exposed to mercury, nor were answers about whether similar incidents of mercury exposure in children were occurring in communities across the country.
* The answers I did find out though were alarming. I learned that mercury, a potent neurotoxin that can affect the nervous system, lungs, brain, and kidneys, is present at a number of contaminated industrial sites in the United States. I also learned that children's unique behaviors, such as soil ingestion from normal hand-to-mouth contact, puts them at particular risk of exposure from these mercury contaminated industrial sites, and that the Agency for Toxic Substance and Disease Registry (ATSDR), has determined this risk has emerged as an important public health issue.
* This incident has taught me that children can, and unfortunately will be exposed to mercury from contaminated industrial sites. The ``Children's Mercury Exposure Act of 2007'' attempts to ensure that children and parents have knowledge about the risks posed by this exposure; that the scope of this problem is determined; and that the appropriate level of testing and care is provided. I urge my colleagues in the House to join me in working to help those children who have been, and may be, exposed to mercury and to support the ``Children's Mercury Exposure Act of 2007.''