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Farewell to Fluorescents

November 18th, 2022 | 3 min read

The first pillar of an equitable and circular economy is the elimination of waste and pollution. California has joined the movement in phasing out toxic mercury from the waste stream by banning the sale of fluorescent lighting.

All fluorescent lamps contain mercury, a naturally occurring element, in vaporized form. Mercury is a neurotoxin that causes harmful and long-term health effects on the nervous, digestive, and immune systems. Mercury is considered by the World Health Organization as one of the top ten chemicals of major public health concern.

The National Stewardship Action Council (NSAC) and the Clean Lighting Coalition, launched a global partnership to capture the health and environmental benefits of eliminating mercury-based lighting.

Signed into law September 18th, 2022, AB 2208 (authored by Assemblymember Ash Kalra & Senator Josh Becker, and sponsored by NSAC) bans mercury-containing compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs in 2024 and prohibits linear fluorescent (LFL) and pin-based compact fluorescent lamp sales in 2025.

AB 2208 protects Californians from the unnecessary threat of mercury exposure and acts as an important climate protection initiative to accelerate the transition to a low-carbon economy through the increased use of energy-efficient light emitting diodes (LEDs).

Over the last 10 years, LEDs have become an increasingly available, cost effective, and much 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.

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-foot LFLs in 2024. California, however, went further by including lamps up to 8 feet in the phase-out.

AB 2208 represents a triple win for California – its highly cost-effective, reduces CO2 emissions, and eliminates toxic mercury, thereby protecting workers and all Californians. Other states can experience the same compounding benefits by adopting similar legislation to remove hazardous fluorescent bulbs from the market.

For more information, check out this blog co-authored by the National Stewardship Action Council (NSAC) and the Clean Lighting Coalition in LEDs Magazine.


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