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U.S. EPA, Cal EPA partner to reduce mercury: California first state to join growing ranks of U.S. EPA’s voluntary reduction program


SAN FRANCISCO – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced today that the California Environmental Protection Agency is diverting millions of mercury-containing fluorescent bulbs from landfills in collaboration with the U.S. EPA under the National Partnership for Environmental Priorities program.

Cal/EPA, the first state agency to join NPEP, will help lead the nation in continued 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. “We are very pleased to have our state partner Cal/EPA join this program and set an innovative example for other states throughout the country.”

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, the 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 non-profit 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 C02 compared to traditional incandescent bulbs. While these bulbs are extremely energy efficient, they each contain trace amounts of mercury. The partnership helps keep mercury, a neurotoxin that can cause kidney and brain damage, out of the environment.


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