Senate Passes Bill to Reduce Mercury in Light Bulbs

June 12, 2012

The New York State Senate today passed legislation that prohibits the sale of light bulbs that contain high levels of mercury – a known hazardous chemical. The bill (S7004), sponsored by Senator Mark Grisanti (R, North Buffalo), would protect the environment and public health by reducing the amount of mercury that ends up in homes and the waste stream. 

“As Chairman of the Environmental Conservation Committee, I am proud of the Senate’s passage today of this bill to protect the environment by limiting the amount of mercury in light bulbs,” said Senator Grisanti. “It would prohibit the sale of lighting that exceeds the appropriate levels of mercury and provide stiff monetary penalties for violators.  Over the course of time, the passage of this bill will be instrumental in protecting our communities from toxic wastes that can be extremely detrimental to our health.”    

“This is a positive step towards reducing the potentially harmful exposure to mercury in our communities,” Senate Majority Leader Dean G. Skelos said. “I commend Senator Grisanti for leading the charge to protect the health of our families and environment.”

The Federal Government is working to move consumers away from incandescent light bulbs, which is a good way to save energy, but it can also present a new hazard in the waste stream if those bulbs are not limited in the amount of mercury they can contain. This legislation details the amount of mercury to be allowed in fluorescent lamps, and normal lifetime and long lifetime bulbs.  

“New York has been a leader in reducing airborne mercury from industrial smokestacks,” said Brian L Houseal, Executive Director of the Adirondack Council.  “However, we have lagged behind other states when it comes to addressing the problem of mercury in consumer products.  We need strong actions such as this legislation to reduce New Yorkers’ exposure to this highly toxic metal.  We are still being hit by too much airborne mercury from smokestacks in upwind states, so it makes perfect sense to do everything we can to limit our exposure to mercury in our own homes.  Until strong action is taken, mercury will continue to poison our birds and fish, and will continue to degrade public health.”

The bill was sent to the Assembly.