minimizing and eliminating the car: the toxic, speeding, sprawl-generating,
glacier-melting, oil-war casualty-causing car
website was originally started for the Auto-Free Times magazine. For
back issues' articles, see Culture Change print magazine links (issues
8-18 at left). This webpage was started Aug. 24, 2004 and will contain
car-fighting and car-free living material.
from Automobiles at Record High
the following report (excerpt) does not call for the elimination of cars, nor
does it acknowledge the need for their vast reduction.
The recycling of old vehicles in just one state, Wisconsin, released
approximately 300 pounds of mercury pollution into the environment in 2003.
An estimated 5,400 pounds of mercury from vehicle hood and trunk lighting
switches has already been released in Wisconsin over the last 30 years and an
equal amount will be released in the next two decades if mercury is not more
adequately recovered before vehicles are scrapped.
Lawmakers and automobile companies need to take immediate steps to
establish a mercury recovery program for scrap cars, says Toral Jha of the
GrassRoots Recycling Network. Allowing mercury from old cars to pollute our
states lakes, waterways, and soil is an unnecessary and irresponsible
assault on public health.
Mercury is a persistent heavy metal and is highly toxic, even in small
quantities, to humans and wildlife. The Environmental Protection Agency
estimates that one in six women of childbearing age has enough mercury in her
blood to pose a threat to her child. Because mercury contamination is
bioaccumulative, its relative concentration to body mass increases as it
travels up the food chain. As a result, top predator fish have mercury levels
about one million times higher than the water they live in. In Wisconsin,
every water body carries a fish consumption advisory.
Nationally, domestic automakers have used more than 200 million mercury
switches in vehicles since the early 1970s. Environmental Defense and the
Ecology Center found that, because of this high level of use, the recycling of
scrap automobiles at steel manufacturing facilities was the 4th largest source
of mercury emissions in 2001. Auto manufacturers have since stopped using the
dangerous switches in new vehicles, but have done very little to recover the
mercury from the millions of cars still on the road.
Recycling Network press release
Fact Sheets (see lower part of left bar at top).