Do mercury-containing lightbulbs harm women? Join the Clean Lighting Coalition’s International Women’s Day conversation.

On International Women’s Day, the Clean Lighting Coalition and partners from Brazil, Nigeria, and the Philippines will host a digital event to discuss how mercury in fluorescents pose a health and economic risk to women. Our panel, representing stakeholders across health, recycling, environmental sectors, will discuss the opportunity to transition our societies – from the household to national level – to energy-efficient, mercury-free LEDs.

Piloting LED Hospital Retrofits Around the World

To support the transition to clean, LED lighting, we are launching hospital LED retrofits in Brazil, Nigeria and the Philippines. The pilots demonstrate that institutional buildings can easily and cost-effectively replace outdated, toxic lighting products with energy-efficient LEDs. The retrofitted LEDs will not only lower hospital energy costs, but also provide better quality lighting and reduce the risk of mercury exposure for both patients and staff.

“Exposure to mercury, even small amounts, may cause serious health problems and is a threat to the development of the child in the uterus and early in life. When a fluorescent lamp breaks, it releases elemental mercury that contaminates the atmosphere, land, and water – when inhaled as vapor can migrate to the brain and damage the central nervous system,” explains Carmina Zapata of Global Green and Healthy Hospital in Southeast Asia. “As a mother-baby friendly hospital, this LED retrofit commitment means protecting the health and safety of our women patients, staff and the surrounding community from the adverse and long-term impacts of mercury in fluorescent lighting.”

LEDs are a Solution to Energy and Climate Crises

The Clean Lighting Coalition is working to accelerate the transition to LEDs globally, by removing exemptions for fluorescent lighting under the Minamata Convention on Mercury. Fluorescent lamps contain mercury, a harmful neurotoxin recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO) as one of the top 10 chemicals of public health concern. Later this month, the 137 parties to the Minamata Convention will vote on a proposed amendment by the Africa bloc to end the manufacture, export and import of fluorescents by 2025. Eliminating fluorescent exemptions would lower the global energy demand by 3% and remove over 3.5 gigatons of C02 from the environment.

“Phasing out fluorescents and replacing them with LEDs is no brainer,” says Dr. Leslie Adogame of SRADev in Nigeria. “In Nigeria, we experience frequent blackouts and shutdowns due to an overburdened national grid. Therefore, this amendment should be supported fully, as it reduces the burden on the national grid allowing everyone to have access to affordable and quality electricity.”

E-waste Collection and Recycling Rates a Major Concern

When a fluorescent bulb breaks, it releases over 90% of mercury contents into the environment. Studies show that even countries with extensive e-waste collection infrastructure only collect a fraction of mercury in bulbs, most bulbs are discarded into general waste where they break and release toxic vapours into our communities.

OECD countries and regions like the EU-27 and states in the U.S. are already phasing-out fluorescents, citing toxicity and inefficiency. Countries in South America, Asia Pacific and Africa are at risk of becoming dumping grounds for products that no longer have viable domestic markets. Join and participate in our digital event on Tuesday, 8 March at 8 am ET to learn more about why the time for a global transition to eliminate fluorescents is now.

Sign our petition urging Heads of Delegation to end toxic lighting at the upcoming Minamata Convention on Mercury at the end of March.