||Mercury in Light Bulbs
||As You Sow Foundation
||Omitted, per SEC
Whereas: Compact fluorescent lamps (CFL) manufactured for Home Depot are positive, energy-saving products that save up to 75% in energy costs and last far longer than incandescent bulbs. However, CFLs contain mercury and therefore pose health risks to consumers when broken requiring appropriate package labeling and risk disclosure.
Ed Yandek, chairman of the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) Lamp Section Technical Committee has stated that “it is to the lighting industry's advantage to limit the total mercury content of CFLs and to work with all stakeholders so that CFLs are managed in an environmentally responsible manner at end-of-life."
Current technology requires mercury for operation of fluorescent lamps, but accidental exposure to mercury in the bulbs through consumer breakage poses potential threats to environmental health. Overexposure to mercury can result in respiratory failure, affect kidney and brain functions, and cause long-term neurobehavioral problems in children whose mothers were exposed during pregnancy (http://www.oehha.ca.gov/air/toxic_contaminants/pdf_zip/Mercury_postSRP3.pdf
EPA has established a level of safe exposure of mercury in the air at 300nanograms/cubic meter. The Centers for Disease Control consider minimal risk to be at 200nanograms/cubic meter. Studies indicate that a broken CFL with 5mg of mercury can produce mercury vapor levels well in excess of these levels – from 8,000 to 150,000nanograms/cubic meter (http://mpp.cclearn.org/wp-content/uploads/2008/08/final_shedding_light_all.pdf pp 4, 6, 7).
Some public health experts assert that consumers need disclosure of the amount of mercury present in each individual lamp, not a broad average or range, in order to make informed purchasing decisions based on environmental impact and potential threat to human health. Others assert that packaging should also include information on clean-up procedures to be followed by consumers when bulbs break as recommended by Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Resolved: Shareholders request the company to issue a report, at reasonable expense and omitting confidential information, on policy options to reduce consumer exposure and increase consumer awareness regarding mercury and any other toxins contained in its private label n:vision brand products.
Supporting Statement: Proponents believe the report should, among other things, discuss policy ideas such as the labeling of mercury levels in products, providing consumers with information on cleanup procedures, and whether Home Depot policy could be shaped to help drive development of non-mercury, energy saving, lighting alternatives . We believe providing mercury content information on the package could give Home Depot’s n:vision brand products a potential advantage over its competition and provide a valuable service to consumers in situations where CFL breakage could pose health threats to family members or pets. Providing clean up information with each package would allow consumers to be informed and ready to follow proper procedures before accidents happen, eliminating the need for urgent calls to local authorities after product breakage.