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For Immediate Release
Council on Environmental Quality
May 20, 2002

White House Convenes Interagency Work Group on Mercury
OSTP Will Coordinate Federal Research into Mercury Science and Policy

The White House Council on Environmental Quality and Office of Science and Technology Policy today announced the formation of an Interagency Work Group on methylmercury. The work group will examine and coordinate efforts to advance our understanding of methylmercury in the environment, the potential for human exposure, health effects, and technological solutions to these problems.

"Better coordination among the federal agencies that are addressing the environmental, health, and research issues associated with methylmercury is needed to ensure the very best science is used to develop policy options on this important issue," said Dr. John Marburger, director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy. "Developing a focused research agenda to deal with existing scientific uncertainties is key to this effort."

A number of federal agencies are actively engaged in projects related to addressing methylmercury science and policy, working in conjunction with states, academia, the private sector, and other groups. The work group will coordinate these efforts, which will help the Administration to develop and improve sound science-based policies to address issues related to methylmercury monitoring, research, and control.

"Americans are concerned about issues related to mercury contamination," said James Connaughton, chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality. "President Bush's historic Clear Skies initiative would significantly reduce mercury pollution. At the same time, we must do more to advance the scientific, technological, and medical issues related to mercury. Sound, well-understood science is the foundation for these policies, and this work group will help ensure this critical issue gets the focused attention that it deserves."

Dr. Marburger will convene the Interagency Work Group under the auspices of the National Science and Technology Council, the primary coordinating council for federal science-related matters.

The work group will include all federal agencies that deal with methylmercury, including the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Department of Commerce, the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and the U.S. Department of the Interior.


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