U.S. EPA, California EPA Partner To Reduce Mercury
California Environmental Protection Agency (Cal/EPA) is diverting
millions of mercury-containing fluorescent bulbs from landfills under
the National Partnership for Environmental Priorities (NPEP) program.
The initiative, announced Nov. 26, is a joint effort between the
agency and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Cal/EPA, the first
state agency to join NPEP, will help lead the nation in efforts to
remove mercury from the environment. The state aims to divert
approximately 4.5 million compact fluorescent light bulbs from
landfills in just one year. The popular energy-saving bulbs each
contain a small amount of mercury.
"Reducing the impact of mercury on human health and the ecosystem
is a priority for the EPA," said Wayne Nastri, administrator for the
EPA's Pacific Southwest region.
NPEP, a voluntary federal program, aims to reduce the use or release
of 4 million pounds of toxic chemicals in the U.S. by 2011. Because
mercury is so persistent in the environment, and so toxic at such
minute quantities, EPA launched the NPEP Mercury Challenge in 2004 to
focus on the elimination of mercury.
"We already are working hard to reduce mercury through our
Take-It-Back program, and by combining those efforts with NPEP, we hope
to achieve even greater reductions," said Linda Adams, California's
secretary for environmental protection.
Cal/EPA has committed to reducing mercury through its own California
Take-It-Back Partnership, a collaboration of government, private
business, and nonprofit organizations that provides free, local and
convenient ways for California residents to recycle everyday household
wastes such as batteries, fluorescent lamps and cell phones.
Since the beginning of 2007, about 9 million fluorescent bulbs have
been purchased in California, preventing the release of 1.5 billion
pounds of carbon dioxide compared to traditional incandescent bulbs.
While these bulbs are extremely energy-efficient, each contains trace
amounts of mercury. The partnership helps keep mercury, a neurotoxin
that can cause kidney and brain damage, out of the environment.
For more information on the NPEP program, visit: http://www.epa.gov/minimize/npep/.