October 13, 2014: India has joined the global mercury abatement agreement, and signed the Minamata Convention on Mercury on September 30, 2014, a year after it was adopted. The convention is named after the Japanese city that has become synonymous with deadly mercury contamination and poisoning.
Mercury pollution is increasing by the day, and it arises from a variety of sources, like mercury mining. It is also very heavily used in artisanal and small-scale gold mining to separate gold from the ore. Mercury is used in the chemical and petrochemical industries and also in household products like compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) and thermometers. Mercury is present in industrial effluents that are let into water bodies.
LED can solve mercury menance
The Minamata Convention gives India five years to control and reduce emissions from new power plants and 10 years to do so for existing power plants. We also need to promote use of mercury-free LEDs in our household lighting. That will tremendously reduce mercury usage. Replacement of CFLs by mercury-free LED lighting needs to accelerate quickly.
Mercury is an essential element in millions of fluorescent lamps throughout the world, and as those lamps are thrown into landfill, the mercury can escape and contribute to air and water pollution. Each year an estimated 600 million fluorescent lamps are disposed of in US landfills, amounting to 30,000 pounds of mercury waste. It only takes 4mg of mercury to contaminate up to 7,000 gallons of freshwater, meaning that the 30,000 pounds of mercury thrown away in compact fluorescent light bulbs each year is enough to pollute nearly every lake, pond, river and stream in North America.
There are now sensible alternatives. One of the most eco-friendly options is LED light bulbs which are not only mercury free, they’re also more energy efficient than fluorescent lights.
Unlike incandescent light bulbs, which light up regardless of the electrical polarity, LEDs will only light with positive electrical polarity. LEDs produce more light per watt than do incandescent bulbs, and have an extremely long life span.
LED lights contain absolutely no mercury or toxic chemicals, and conventional LEDs are made from a variety of inorganic semiconductor materials. They don’t generate RF wavelengths that cause radio interference, or emit ultraviolet (UV) light — so LEDs will not readily attract bugs and other insects.