Category: Laws & Regulations

New law requires Washington businesses to recycle all fluorescent lights – Mercer Island Reporter


Mercer Island Reporter Staff

Beginning Jan. 1, 2013, all Washington businesses will be required by law to recycle their fluorescent light bulbs and tubes.

The law, RCW 70.275.080, was passed in 2010 with Section 8 becoming effective on New Years Day. It requires all persons, residents, government, commercial, industrial and retail facilities and office buildings to recycle mercury-containing light bulbs and tubes at the end of their life.

Nationwide, efforts to increase energy conservation and lower operating costs are increasing the use of fluorescent tubes and compact fluorescent lamps CFLs. The downside: each light contains a small amount of mercury that can be harmful to both humans and wildlife when disposed of incorrectly.  According to the Washington State Department of Ecology, about 680 million lights are disposed of annually, most at solid waste disposal facilities, including landfills and incinerators.

Under the new law, the most common types of lights that will need to be recycled include CFLs, fluorescent tubes and HID high-intensity discharge lights.

via New law requires Washington businesses to recycle all fluorescent lights – Mercer Island Reporter.

OSHA’s Bright Idea: Protect Workers from Mercury in Fluorescent Light Bulbs | EHS Today

By Laura Walter

OSHA’s Bright Idea: Protect Workers from Mercury in Fluorescent Light BulbsCompact fluorescent light bulbs might be long lasting and environmentally friendly, but they also pose a potentially serious health risk when crushed or broken: mercury poisoning. OSHA offers two new resources to help employers ensure their workers are protected when handling fluorescent bulbs.

Chances are, you have them in your home or workplace: compact fluorescent light bulbs, which environmental advocates praise for their energy conservation and long operating lives. But a hidden hazard – mercury – lurks in these bulbs, and employers must ensure workers are protected.

If fluorescent light bulbs are crushed or broken, mercury vapor can be released and pose a health hazard to the workers handling the bulbs. Depending on the duration and level of exposure, mercury can cause nervous system disorders such as tremors, kidney problems and damage to unborn children.

To address those potential risks, and to help employees better protect their workers who may recycle or otherwise dispose of fluorescent bulbs, OSHA has released a new fact sheet and quick card. The fact sheet explains how workers may be exposed, what kinds of engineering controls and personal protective equipment are required, and how to use these controls and equipment properly.

“When a fluorescent bulb accidentally breaks, mercury in the glass tube is released and a small amount of mercury vapor enters the air. A small amount of liquid mercury falls to the ground, where it continues to evaporate to form a vapor,” the fact sheet explains. “Workers are primarily exposed by breathing in vapors. Exposure can also occur by skin contact.”

The fact sheet also outlines symptoms of mercury poisoning, which include mild tremors, impaired memory and coordination and skin irritation.

OSHA’s new Quick Card, “Avoiding Mercury Exposure from Fluorescent Bulbs,” which is available in both English and Spanish, outlines the hazards of mercury and provides information on how to properly clean up accidently broken fluorescent bulbs to minimize workers’ exposures to mercury. The Quick Card’s safe cleanup guidelines include:

  • Notify workers and tell them to stay away from the area.
  • Open any windows and doors to air out the room.
  • Do not use a broom or vacuum cleaner unless the vacuum cleaner is specifically designed to collect mercury.
  • Wear appropriate disposable chemical-resistant gloves.
  • Use a commercial mercury spill kit if available, or scoop up pieces of glass and powder with stiff paper or cardboard to avoid contact with the broken glass.
  • Use sticky tape to pick up any remaining pieces of glass.
  • Wipe down hard floors with a damp paper towel.
  • Place all pieces of glass and cleanup materials in a sealable plastic bag or a glass jar with a lid.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly after cleanup.

“Proper cleanup will reduce workers’ exposure to the low levels of mercury anticipated when a fluorescent bulb is accidentally broken,” the Quick Card states.

Download the Quick Card and fact sheet as PDFs to learn more.

via OSHA’s Bright Idea: Protect Workers from Mercury in Fluorescent Light Bulbs | Health content from EHS Today. » Commercial Lighting Staple Fades Out

Commercial Lighting Staple Fades Out

By Michael W. Kahn | ECT Staff Writer

Published: July 17th, 2012

T12 fluorescent lamps are going the way of the Edsel. And while there might not be any in the co-op office, electric cooperatives need to be aware because the change will almost certainly impact commercial members.

uly 14, 2012, marked the end of the road for American production of the T12. Its fate was sealed five years earlier, when the bipartisan Energy Independence and Security Act was signed into law.

It bans manufacture of the T12s that are as commonplace in commercial buildings as water fountains. In 2010, it became illegal to make the ballasts used for T12s.

“It’s one of those things that I think is going to go by with barely a notice until somebody’s light burns out and it’s time to replace it,” said Alan Shedd, director, residential and commercial energy programs atTouchstone Energy®.

“I know from the buildings I’ve been to that a lot of them still use that style lamp and fixture. And it’s going to be expensive. As the production volumes decrease, of course the cost is going to go up.”

Shedd said there may be many co-op C&I members that don’t even know that T12 production has ceased. That’s where co-ops need to step up—first by making members aware.

“It’s just giving them a heads-up, telling them that there is a change, it’s going to affect them, and that the co-op can be a resource to them,” Shedd told

“Ultimately, the best thing is to do a lighting upgrade. Take them out and replace them with more efficient T8s or T5s, or some of the other lighting technologies that are becoming available,” Shedd said. “The savings from doing a lighting upgrade should be compelling enough.”

“It’s a good opportunity for co-ops and their key accounts people to have some discussions about lighting options, and to do some investigation.”

Eric Marsh, senior marketing manager at Philips Lighting, noted that there are LED options that will improve the lighting and run cooler. Some can even fit in the same socket as the T12s.

The nonprofit National Lighting Bureau estimates some 500 million T12 lamps are installed nationwide. John Bachner, executive director, said the figure is based on manufacturers’ sales figures and takes into account typical lamp failure rates.

Shedd warned that hoarding T12s isn’t a very good idea; nor is sticking your head in the sand.

“It’s only going to get worse,” Shedd said. “The supplies are going to decrease. The costs are going to go up. Dealing with it now heads off future expense.”

via » Commercial Lighting Staple Fades Out.

New federal label for household light bulbs packages could help consumers warm up to CFL, LED bulbs |

It used to be that picking up a two-pack or four-pack of light bulbs was a no-brainer.

As if by instinct, most consumers knew what wattage bulb to buy. A 40-watt bulb might go in a closet, a 75-watt could be used in a reading lamp, and a bright 100-watt might go above a workbench. But most often, consumers bought a 60-watt bulb — pretty bright but not blinding, and not so hot that it ruined the fixture.

Much of that buying decision, though, was based on experience and marketing, including information on the package. It was all about how much power a bulb used.

“We have been conditioned to buy on watts,” said Peter Soares, director of consumer marketing for Philips Lighting.Not for long. Because of new technologies, the industry wants consumers to choose light bulbs by lumens, which measure brightness, not by watts. This will be done with fancy new packaging and a sober, federally mandated label.

Read More via New federal label for household light bulbs packages could help consumers warm up to CFL, LED bulbs |

Thumbs Up for Lamp Recycling!


Fluorescent lamp recycling for a business of any size has its positives that far outweigh not recycling and just going on with business as usual. There are positives that can be quantified, ones that can be physically seen and still others that have long reaching effects.

  • Through tracking and reporting a business can have a total of all their recycling efforts across one or multiple sites. This will allow them to be able to craft a more effective lamp recycling program by being able to pin-point which program (bulk or mail back) is right for them.
  • The bottom line. As with most things there is a charge for lamp recycling, but the cost is less than fines that can be assessed for improper management. Would a company rather pay $49 for a pre-paid recycling program that eliminates their liability or would they rather pay hundreds of dollars in fines for the same material that wasn’t recycled?
  • By collecting and correctly storing used lamps a business can reduce their liability for breakage, environmental breach, and possible employee injury
  • Recycling is both environmentally and corporate responsible. Recycling lamps keeps mercury out of our landfill and in turn out of the water and food sources that can directly impact our health
  • A lamp program can help a business increase their green image as well as convey a message of environmental stewardship to their employees and customers. Businesses can set up a company-wide recycling drive for all their employees or use their total lamp recycling numbers to quantify how much mercury was kept out of the environment. Real “Green Press” is green gold in today’s PR world.
  • Simply-Its the law and the right thing to do.


The Thin Green Line

Green Line

Programs like office paper, glass and can recycling are often implemented by a business’s  ”green team’ or as part of a corporate sustainability program. These programs help not only the environment but also provide a tangible aspect to a businesses green image and environmental responsibility. A corporate officer or employee can easily see the recycling bins and see what they have accomplished. However a company may not be subject to EPA fines if  the program is improperly managed or liable for incorrect storage of these items.* Would a EPA auditor say “Hey those aluminum cans and paper for shredding have no accumulation date.” or “What is your procedure to guard against environmental breach of those Snapple bottles?”. Most likely not. So when does environmental responsibility become a environmental requirement? Answer: When a company generates used lamps, batteries, ewaste, ballasts or mercury devices.

While used fluorescent lamps are taken away to the proper storage containers in the back of a  facility may not be in your face “look at us we recycle” it is still environmentally friendly and most importantly is the LAW.  Simple things such as having a universal waste recycling program, trained staff or properly stored containers with accumulation dates can help companies be compliant and reduce their liability. All of these things can be accomplished without a environmental health and safety officer or being a draw on budgets. The below are a few simple steps to successful universal waste recycling:

1) Learn & Educate-Understand your state’s regulations and specifics on universal waste
• What is Universal Waste? • RCRA Requirements • My State’s Regs
2) Assess Your Company- Take a general look at what universal waste your company produces and how often. See if you are a small or large generator3) Plan the Program- Based on the amount of waste generated see if a national mail-back program or bulk pick-up service is needed. Also look at factors beyond quantities such as ease of management, your facilities locations, or specific needs of your industry.

4) Implement & Monitor- Once you have selected the proper program be sure to implement it company-wide, educate employees, monitor progress, keep recycling records/certificates and evaluate the program yearly.

5) Have Questions or Need Assistance? Get Help-Call 877.822.4733 to discuss your company’s specific needs, implement a new program or to enhance a current one.
*depending on what state your company is in this may not be true. Check your local laws and regulations.

The Council Addresses PCBs in Schools (Gotham Gazette)

by Jane C Timm
In what advocates say is the most sweeping legislation in the country to tackle PCB-contamination problems, two City Council bills unanimously passed yesterday will inform parents and school employees of contamination in schools and add transparency to the clean-up process.

PCB, or polychlorinated biphenyl, is a chemical that was widely used as a coolant and dielectric before it was banned it in 1979 for its toxicity.

The first bill 563 requires the Department of Education to notify parents and employees of PCB testing results or if the school uses T12 fluorescents, an outdated type of lamp that often leaks PCB. A second bill 566 asks for detailed reports from the DOE on their progress and plan eradicating PCB from schools.

Councilman Vincent Ignizio spearheaded the effort after he learned of a T12 fluorescent that was leaking PCB onto a carpet where grade-school children sat. “That’s where this started,” he said.

Nearly 800 city schools — built between the 1950s and late 1970s — are likely contaminated. PCB can hurt cognitive development in children, studies show. It also has been linked to cancer and a variety of other illnesses. Exposure to the chemical is particularly dangerous to young girls, who carry the chemicals in their bodies for years and pass them on to their offspring, as well as pregnant women, whose unborn children can be harmed by the exposure.

“Parents deserve to know what type of environment their children are learning in and school employees should be able to walk into their buildings with knowledge, not fear,” Council Speaker Christine Quinn.

via The Council Addresses PCBs in Schools (Gotham Gazette, Dec 20, 2011).

New York City Schools Pressed To Get Rid Of PCBs

Huff Post :: ::Claire Gordon ::

At the end of the 2010-2011 school year, Michelle Chapman‘s 10-year-old daughter started complaining about headaches and fatigue. Her symptoms stopped during the summer, only to return when school started again in the fall. Doctors didn’t know what made the girl sick, but Chapman thinks she does: the fluorescent light fixtures at her daughter’s school, which are contaminated with sky-high levels of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), one of the most toxic chemicals ever made by man. Long-term exposure can damage a child’s ability to learn and a woman’s ability to bear healthy babies.

In New York City, 754 schools have fluorescent lights that are likely tainted with PCBs, according to the city’s School Construction Authority. The substance may be leaking into the air and building up in the bodies of teachers and children. At first, city officials denied there was a health risk. Now they acknowledge that there is one, but say it will take ten years to remove all the potentially toxic lights.

“It’s so scary,” says Chapman. “My daughter is 10. When she’s in her child-bearing years she’s going to have PCBs in her system. It seems like they’re choosing policy over our lives.”

The Environmental Protectional Agency has recommended all of the old lights be replaced in a maximum of five years, as has New York City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn. Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) has said the timeframe for replacement should be two to five years. A year ago, New York Lawyers for the Public Interest, a nonprofit civil rights firm that has worked closely with advocates to remove PCBs from schools, said it should be two years.

Parents, women’s health activists, environmentalists and lawyers have been holding rallies to pressure Mayor Michael Bloomberg‘s administration to act faster. On Monday, more than a dozen elected officials gathered together with other concerned parties on the steps of City Hall. “ABCs not PCBs,” they chanted, when Bloomberg made a surprise — and brief — appearance.

“Our plan to replace light fixtures in nearly 800 school buildings is unprecedented compared to other cities, and PCBs are a nationwide issue,” Natalie Ravitz, director of communications for the NYC Department of Education, told The Huffington Post via email.

Miranda Massie, the legal director of New York Lawyers for the Public Interest, said in response, “The fact that children are being poisoned elsewhere is not a morally attractive argument.”

-Read More

Philips to continue incandescent bulb phase-out

Royal Philips Electronics has announced that it will continue its independent efforts to phase-out incandescent light bulbs in the GCC.

After Philips’ 100-watt and higher phase-out of energy inefficient light bulbs in September 2010, the company decided to discontinue and replace the 75-watt incandescent lamps as of January 2012, with energy-efficient alternatives like compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), energy-saving halogens and LED bulbs.

Philips invented the energy saving light bulb in 1980, and continued to develop energy efficient lighting solutions as a proof-point of their efforts and commitment to sustainability and the environment, a statement from the company said.

Lighting accounts for 19 percent or one third of the world’s electricity consumption, where 90 percent of the energy used through an incandescent light bulb is wasted as heat, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).

However, 80 percent savings can be made by simply converting from traditional conventional lamps to energy saving ones, it said.

In the GCC alone, switching all residential lighting to energy efficient solutions will reduce a tremendous amount of CO2 emissions yearly.

With this switch, consumers will not only preserve the environment but also be able to save on their electricity bills without compromising on the quality of light, instead, creating the perfect ambiance at home.

“Homes are currently dominated by incandescent bulbs, and approximately two third of the world’s lighting solutions in use are based on old, less energy efficient technologies”, says Paolo Cervini, general manager of Philips Lighting, Middle East & Turkey. “Making a switch to energy efficient lighting solutions is simple and easy, with a remarkable effect.”

“Philips is aware that significant savings can be made in terms of energy consumption, carbon emission and costs by switching to energy efficient solutions, therefore, we continue our unilateral phase-out of incandescent lamps and simultaneously educate the public through different initiatives on the benefits of the switch,” he added.

Compact fluorescent energy savers are up to five times more efficient than incandescent lamps, as they need around five times less energy to generate the same amount of light, the statement said.

Philips CFLs lasts an average of eight times longer than incandescent lamps, needing less frequent replacements. The Philips Genie 14W which can be used as an alternative to the incandescent 75-watt light bulb is an ultra-efficient lamp which saves up to 80 percent energy and has a lifetime of 8,000 hours. – TradeArabia News Service

Stores Respond to New Light Bulb Legislation

Written by J. Patrick Eaken
Thursday, 17 November 2011 15:21

In the movie “Saving Private Ryan,” WWII American troops putting their lives on the line to seek Private James Francis Ryan sarcastically comment that he had better invent a better light bulb someday, or their effort is not worth it.

Well, somebody is.

Stores in Northwood, Woodville, and Oregon are responding to meet the demand for compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) and LED lighting.

Beginning Jan. 1, 2012, throughout the United States and Canada, incandescent light bulbs must meet more stringent lumens/watt requirements.

In other words, the bulbs must meet the same amount of lumens (brightness) for less wattage (energy). The changes begin with the 100 watt incandescent light bulb, which must now use no more than 72 watts to produce a comparable brightness. Additional bulbs will be affected over the next several years.

The Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) was signed into law by then-president George W. Bush in 2007. The law provides for a three-year phase out schedule that will start in 2012 with 100 watt light bulbs. The 75 watt light bulb will go away in year two, and the 60 watt and 40 watt light bulbs will go away in year three.

The law also sets minimum standards for general incandescent bulbs, making it necessary for consumers to replace the popular incandescent bulbs with more energy-efficient versions.

“There are several options for more energy-efficient bulbs,” said Joe Rey-Barreau, consulting director of education for the American Lighting Association and an associate professor at the University of Kentucky’s School of Interior Design. “One is the 72-watt halogen-incandescent that is available today, and looks and performs like a standard 100-watt incandescent.”

Rey-Barreau stated in a press release provided by Gross Electric that a 26-watt, medium-base CFL offers the same amount of light as the 100-watt incandescent, but uses one-quarter of the electricity. It will last 10 times longer. If the 100-watt bulb you are replacing is dimmable, Rey-Barreau advises selecting a dimmable version of the 26-watt CFL.
“Peculiar” look, saves money
Even though some customers say CFLs look “peculiar” and are generally more expensive, Ron Gladieux, co-owner of Gladieux Lumber and Supply on Navarre Ave., Oregon, advises purchasing them. He says, so far, people are.

“Anything that can save people money and energy in the long run, they are all for it and looking to do that,” Gladieux said. “The bulbs will last longer. We’ve been selling them for a couple years now, and I think sales are almost 40 percent compact fluorescent.”

Phil Trumbull, owner of True Value Hardware, Water Street, Woodville, said, “Once you explain to people the cost savings, then it starts to make sense and the prices are starting to come down on the CFLs as well.

“We’ve been selling the compact fluorescent bulbs for at least five years now, and over the last two to three years the sales have picked up on those. We currently carry a pretty full line of the compact fluorescents in various shapes and sizes, including the ones that go into recessed fixtures like the cam lights that people have.

CFLs have achieved a level of performance that matches incandescent in color and far exceeds incandescent in energy efficiency, according to Rey-Barreau and Trumbull.

“By and large, the compact fluorescents are available in different color temperatures, so if you like the soft white look instead of the harsh white, you can get it that way. There are other people that prefer the whiter light, and those are also available if you look at the bulbs carefully,” Trumbull said.

Rey-Barreau adds, “Therefore, CFLs are a good choice for replacing incandescent light bulbs in task lighting, table lamps, or ambient lighting fixtures.”

There are still some issues people run into when purchasing the CFLs

read more