ANNAPOLIS -- Thousands of hearing aid wearers and camera buffs help poison the environment every year, probably without realizing it, members of a Senate committee learned yesterday.
The poison is the mercury in tiny, button-shaped mercuric oxide batteries that power many hearing aids and cameras. When the batteries run out of power, they're tossed in the trash -- with their toxic mercury.
Sen. Idamae Garrott, D-Montgomery, asked her colleagues on the Economic and Environmental Affairs Committee yesterday to approve a bill allowing Maryland to regulate disposal of those batteries and make violations a misdemeanor subject to a $100 fine. The legislation also calls on battery makers and retailers to work with the state's Department of Environment to develop a mercury battery recycling program.