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Compact fluorescent lights

Wal-Mart announces major initiative to reduce the mercury content of compact fluorescent lights

Friday, October 19, 2007 by: David Gutierrez, staff writer
Tags: compact fluorescent lights, health news, Natural News


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(NewsTarget) Retail giant Wal-Mart Stores Inc., has announced plans to drastically reduce the mercury content of the compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) sold in its Wal-Mart and Sam's Club stores. No timeline was given for the change, which is a part of the company's wider campaign to sell 100 million CFLs by 2008.

The new bulbs are slated to have 33 percent less mercury than products currently on the shelves, at 5 milligrams of mercury each. This reduction amounts to 360 pounds of mercury per 100 million bulbs sold.

"By partnering with our manufacturers, we are achieving mercury reductions in CFLs before they reach our store shelves," said Andy Ruben, the company's vice president of strategy and sustainability. "We are starting at the source to make sure our bulbs have the least amount of mercury possible."

Wal-Mart has worked with light bulb manufacturers GE, Lights of America, Osram Sylvania and Royal Philips, all of which have committed to exceeding the 5 milligram mercury reduction set as the standard by the National Electrical Manufacturers Association.

In addition, Wal-Mart says that these companies' clean manufacturing techniques will lessen mercury pollution from the factories producing the bulbs.

"Clean production techniques for manufacturing the bulbs will further boost the environmental benefit," said National Resources Defense Council Senior Scientist Noah Horowitz. "In fact, the energy savings delivered through the use of CFLs will actually reduce more mercury pollution from coal-fired power plants than is added through manufacture of the bulbs."

But critics point to the fact that safer, mercury-free lights are already available. "LED lights use one-third the energy of fluorescent light bulbs and contain no toxic mercury," said Mike Adams, founder of EcoLEDs.com (www.EcoLEDs.com), a maker of energy efficient LED light bulbs. "Plus, LED light bulbs last 50,000 hours, which is about 48,000 hours longer than a typical compact fluorescent light bulb," Adams said.

The primary source of mercury pollution in the United States is emissions from coal-fired power plants. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the higher energy use of an incandescent bulb leads to four times as much mercury emissions as a compact fluorescent, 13.6 milligrams as compared to 3.3 milligrams.

Mercury is a naturally occurring element that is highly toxic to the nervous system.

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