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Introduced by   Senator Lyons of Chittenden District, Senator Kittell of Franklin District, Senator Leddy of Chittenden District and Senator Mullin of Rutland District

Referred to Committee on


Subject:  Mercury; labeling; prohibited vaccines; notice; study

Statement of purpose:  This bill proposes to require the labeling of health care products that contain mercury and that are offered for sale, sold at final sale, or distributed within the state.  The bill proposes that this labeling take place by no later than July 1, 2007, and that it be in accordance with a manufacturer’s plan that shall be submitted by October 1, 2006.  In addition, this bill proposes to prohibit in certain circumstances mercury-containing vaccines and to require insurers to cover mercury-free vaccines.  It also requires the commissioner of health to develop a poster and brochure related to dental procedures involving mercury or a mercury amalgam and further requires that dentists make such information available to their patients.  Finally, it directs the commissioner of health to reevaluate the existing Vermont fish consumption advisory.


It is hereby enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont:


(1)  Mercury is a persistent, bio-accumulative toxin that poses a significant risk to human health, wildlife, and the environment.

(2)  Mercury is a heavy liquid metallic chemical compound and elemental mercury, and mercury compounds are known to be toxic and hazardous to human health and the environment.

(3)  Human exposure to mercury can result in significant damage to the central nervous system, the kidneys, and the liver and may impair child development.

(4)  Recent research by the Environmental Protection Agency concludes that 16 percent of women of childbearing age have unsafe mercury blood levels, and that the annual number of newborn infants at risk in the United States is 630,000.

(5)  There has been a threefold increase in mercury loading to the environment over the past 150 years.  Much of the mercury deposited from the atmosphere is from human and natural sources, but anthropogenic emissions exceed those that occur naturally.

(6)  Mercury waste emitted from dental clinics has been shown to fail the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s Toxicity Characteristic Leaching Procedure and, therefore, is a regulated hazardous waste.

(7)  The National Academy of Sciences reported in 2001 that “[t]he major source of exposure to elemental mercury in the general United States population is due to mercury vapor released from dental amalgams.”

(8)  The American Dental Society estimates that the dental industry releases into the environment 100 million dental amalgams annually.  Each dental amalgam has approximately 0.5 grams of mercury.

(9)  Researchers for the United States Naval Dental Research Institute have indicated that, when discharged into the environment, waste dental mercury may methylate, become bioavailable, and subsequently biomagnify in fish as methylmercury, the most toxic form of mercury.

(10)  The primary means of exposure to methylmercury is the consumption of contaminated fish and shellfish.

(11)  The United States Food and Drug Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Vermont Department of Health recommend limiting the consumption of certain commercial saltwater fish, including canned tuna.

(12)  In 1998, the governors of New England and the premiers of eastern Canada agreed to a historic and landmark goal to “virtually eliminate” anthropogenic mercury releases.

Sec. 2.  10 V.S.A. § 6621d(h) is added to read:

(h)  Health care products.

(1)  Effective January 1, 2007, a manufacturer or wholesaler may not  offer for final sale in this state, sell at a final sale in this state, or distribute in this state any health product that contains mercury, unless the product is labeled.  All labels must be legible and must inform the purchaser, using words or symbols, in a minimum of 10 point font, that mercury is present in the product and must clearly identify that the mercury-added product should not be disposed of or placed in a waste stream destined for disposal until the mercury is removed and reused, recycled, or otherwise managed to ensure that the mercury in the product does not become mixed with other solid waste or wastewater.  Component, product, and package labels must be placed so that they are clearly visible.  A label must also be visible prior to sale.

(2)  By no later than October 1, 2006, each manufacturer required by this section to label shall certify to the agency of natural resources that it has developed a labeling plan for its mercury-added products that complies with this section, and that this labeling plan shall be implemented for products offered for final sale, sold at final sale, or distributed in Vermont after July 1, 2007.  The labeling plan shall include detailed descriptions of the products involved and the label size, font size, material, wording, location, and attachment method for each product and for the product packaging.  The plan shall include how prior-to-sale notification will be provided, if required.  The plan must be submitted to the agency and the multistate clearinghouse for approval, together with the certification.

Sec. 3.  18 V.S.A. § 1008(c) is added to read:

(c)  The department’s rules shall specify that, beginning January 1, 2006, a person who knowins she is pregnant or who might become pregnant or a person who is under 12 years of age shall not be vaccinated with a

mercury-containing vaccine or injected with a mercury-containing product, except in times of an emergency or epidemic as determined by the commissioner.

Sec. 4.  8 V.S.A. § 4100d is amended to read:


(a)  No insurer shall reduce its coverage for pediatric vaccines below the coverage provided as of May 1, 1993.

(b)  Insurers shall provide coverage for mercury-free fillings, vaccines, and injections for all pregnant women, women who might become pregnant, and children under 12 years of age.

Sec. 5.  18 V.S.A. § 12 is added to read:


The commissioner, after reviewing similar initiatives in other states, shall develop a poster and brochure explaining the potential advantages and disadvantages of using mercury or a mercury amalgam in dental procedures to oral health, overall human health, and the environment.  The brochure shall describe the alternatives available to a mercury amalgam in various dental procedures and the potential advantages and disadvantages posed by using those alternatives.  The brochure may also include other information that contributes to the patient’s ability to make an informed decision when choosing between the use of a mercury amalgam or an alternative material in dental procedures, including information on durability, cost, aesthetic quality, and other characteristics of the mercury amalgam and alternative materials.  The poster shall inform dental patients of the availability of the brochure.

Sec. 6.  26 V.S.A. § 726 is added to read:


Beginning January 1, 2006, a dentist who uses mercury or a mercury amalgam in any dental procedure shall display the poster adopted under section 12 of Title 18 in the public waiting area of the dentist’s office and provide each patient with the accompanying brochure.


The department of health shall undertake a comprehensive reevaluation of Vermont’s fish consumption advisory.  The reevaluation shall take into account recent findings on the cardiovascular effects of fish consumption on adults and shall consider also the more restrictive advisory now in place in the state of Massachusetts which directs women of childbearing age, pregnant women and nursing mothers, and children under the age of 12 not to eat fish caught in the waters of Massachusetts.  The department shall report its findings and recommendations to the governor and general assembly no later than December 1, 2005.

Published by:

The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street
Montpelier, Vermont