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Mercury In Lighting Cfl Lfl

California Passes Clean Lighting Legislation Banning Fluorescent Lamps

Sept. 28, 2022
It is the second state to pass a ban on fluorescent lamps, following Vermont’s vote to phase-out CFLs in 2023 and 4-ft LFLs in 2024.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed AB 2208 into law, a bill by Assemblymember Ash Kalra and Sen. Josh Becker that sets phase-out dates for compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) and linear fluorescent lamps (LFLs) starting in 2024. Climate, clean air, worker safety, and public and environmental health advocates applaud the move to protect Californians and the planet from the dangers of mercury-containing lamps.

California is now the second state to pass a ban on fluorescent lamps, following Vermont’s vote to phase out CFLs in 2023 and 4-ft LFLs in 2024. California, however, went further by including lamps up to 8 ft in its phase-out.

“We are delighted to have legislative champions … who were willing to take action to remove toxic mercury from lighting, which unnecessarily exposes the public and waste workers to a potent neurotoxin,” said Heidi Sanborn, executive director of the National Stewardship Action Council, sponsor of the bill.

Over the last decade, light-emitting diodes (LEDs) have become an increasingly available, cost-effective, and more-efficient lighting solution. Because LED retrofit lamps produce the same illumination as fluorescents but use half as much electricity, this new law will cut California’s lighting energy bills in half and protect the state from rolling blackouts caused by electricity shortages.

“AB 2208 will result in even more efficient energy use in our homes and businesses, reduced electricity bills, as well as reductions in both carbon and toxic pollution,” said Victoria Rome, director of California Government Affairs for the Natural Resources Defense Council.

A recent market study from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy found that by 2030, California could save more than $1 billion annually on electricity bills, achieve annual electricity savings of about 5,600 gigawatt hours, and avoid the release of 950,000 metric tons of CO2 per year.

Governments around the world are increasingly recognizing LEDs as the foremost lighting technology on the market today. In December 2021, the European Union banned the sale of almost all mercury-containing fluorescent lamps by September 2023, and in March 2022, 137 governments voted to phase out CFLs by 2025 through the Minamata Convention on Mercury.

As one of the biggest lighting markets in the United States, the new California law signals that the country is ready to make the transition to a clean lighting economy. It is well-positioned to take a leading role in global negotiations and push for an equitable global transition to better lighting at the Minamata Convention COP5 next year.

“We applaud the leadership being shown by the state of California, transitioning away from toxic mercury-based light sources in favor of clean, efficient and cost-effective LED technology,” said Corinne Schneider, chief communications and development officer at CLASP. “We hope California’s move will generate some momentum, with other states taking action to protect people and the planet from fluorescent lighting.”

The Clean Lighting Coalition is a global partnership coordinated by CLASP to capture the health and environmental benefits of eliminating mercury-based lighting. Membership comprises industry partners, public health authorities, mercury experts, and NGO partners who are working together for the global phase-out of toxic mercury lighting through the Minamata Convention. 

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