Today in Portland, Maine’s leading environmental advocacy group, the Natural Resources Council of Maine, publicly urged the Kellogg’s Company and local supermarkets to stop selling cereal boxes that include a toy that contains batteries with mercury. Even in small amounts, mercury is toxic and poses a significant health and environmental hazard.
“Who would expect to find the latest toxic mercury threat in colorful boxes of children’s cereal?” said Jon Hinck, staff attorney at NRCM. “Take these toxic toys off the shelves to protect our kids and prevent needless mercury pollution.”
The so-called “Spidey-Signal” toy — a promotional tie-in with the Spiderman 2 movie –is designed to project a web-shaped light. It is powered with a mercury battery. The toy comes with the warning: “battery in toy contains mercury, dispose of properly.” The battery is not easily removable and not replaceable. The toy recently hit the shelves in Maine and nationwide in specially marked Kellogg’s cereal boxes, including Frosted Flakes and Rice Krispies.
“Kellogg’s saw the hazard posed by mercury, but then failed to understand that there is no place for cereal buyers to send the batteries from these toys,” said Hinck. “Before you can say Snap, Crackle and Pop, the mercury will be headed to a landfill or incinerator and eventually to a lake or river near you.”
At the news conference, Jon Hinck, NRCM’s staff attorney, distributed copies of the environmental organization’s correspondence to Kellogg’s, Hannaford Brothers and Shaw’s supermarkets. NRCM requests an immediate halt to sales of the cereal boxes that contain the mercury-containing toy. Kellogg’s should take the batteries back. Hinck also urged Maine consumers not to buy cereal with the Spidey toy and other novelties that have mercury batteries.
This year, the Maine State Legislature enacted a law to study button cell batteries in novelty items — like the battery in the toy in the Rice Krispies box — to assess non-mercury alternatives and the feasibility of banning all button cell batteries in novelty items.
Representative Scott Cowger from Hallowell sponsored the bill. “Needless trinkets and novelty items powered with mercury batteries are already cause for concern,” said Cowger. “I never suspected we would find mercury batteries in cereal boxes. This mercury “Spidey” toy should convince the Legislature that enough is enough.”