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Public Statements

Statements On Introduced Bills And Joint Resolutions

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


By Mr. SPECTER (for himself and Mr. Casey):

S. 3670. A bill to establish standards limiting the amounts of arsenic and lead contained in glass beads used in pavement markings; to the Committee on Environment and Public Works.

Mr. SPECTER. Mr. President, I seek recognition to introduce the Safe Highway Markings Act of 2010, a bill that would establish minimum standards limiting the amounts of arsenic and lead contained in glass beads for reflective pavement markings. This bill will help protect surface and ground water from contamination and protect the health and safety of highway workers.

Each year, approximately 500 million pounds of glass beads are applied to create reflective markings on roads in the United States. The source materials for the manufacturing of these glass beads can vary widely. While most engineered glass beads use environmentally-friendly materials such as recycled flat glass, some of the glass beads contain arsenic, lead and other heavy metals. As the glass degrades from the pounding of traffic, snow plows, trucks and weather, toxic materials can leach out of the glass and mix into the ground and surface water. In addition, workers who apply the glass beads with high concentrations of heavy metals are at risk for exposure.

In response to environmental and health issues, several states have adopted regulations that require the use of environmentally-friendly, non-toxic glass materials. In particular, California, Iowa, Maine, New Jersey, Vermont, Washington and Wyoming have established procurement standards for the quality of glass beads used in highways markings in their States. Several other States are currently reviewing proposals. Additionally, the European Union, China, Australia, and several Canadian provinces have also set standards limiting heavy metal concentration.

It makes no sense to continue this piecemeal approach; it is time for a national standard. This legislation establishes a minimum standard for engineered glass beads used in reflective markings. The legislation ensures that States receiving Federal funds adhere to the Environmental Protection Agency's methods and standards for engineered glass beads, specifically that the beads may contain no more than 200 parts per million of arsenic.

Similar legislation has been introduced in the House and I look forward to advancing this important legislation in the Senate. As such, I urge my colleagues to support this bill that will help safeguard the lives of highway workers and help keep public roads free of high levels of arsenic and lead.


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