I was alarmed to find out from a TV Tech article by Bruce Aleksander, (link follows,) that fluorescent lighting is being phased out by law due to environmental concerns. Not only is new LED technology over twice as energy efficient, it seems that in addition to the glass, plastic, and undesirable metal parts, there are small amounts of environmentally hazardous mercury in each lamp. Mercury is a bioaccumulative toxin, meaning it builds up in living organisms instead of breaking down. When released into the environment, it accumulates in water laid sediments where it converts into toxic methylmercury and enters the food chain. Mercury contamination is a significant public health and environmental problem because methylmercury easily enters the bloodstream and affects the brain.
Since light emitting diodes (LEDs) have become increasingly available, cost-effective, and are a much more efficient lighting solution, governments around the world are starting to ban the sale of mercury-containing fluorescent. Manufacturing prohibitions are already in place in the European Union and California with more on the way. 138 governments have now voted to phase out CFLs by 2025 through the Minamata Convention on Mercury, an international effort to protect human health and the environment from the adverse effects of mercury. For the most part, fluorescent tube sales will end by 2024.
Of course, we all want to protect the environment, but as a lover and owner of dozens of traditional Kino Flo fixtures, I was somewhat panicked. Luckily, my friend Frieder Hochheim, the Founder of Kino Flo who is largely responsible for bringing fluorescent lighting to the motion picture industry was able to talk me down. Although Kino Flo is no longer selling fluorescent units, they are still maintaining a stock of replacement parts. Perhaps more importantly, they are working on ways to help the industry convert to LED.
I have to admit, even as a huge fan of traditional Kino Flos, LED technology now far surpasses fluorescent in so many ways. Not only in efficiency, but also in color fidelity, which was traditionally a weakness of LED. Computer control to mix a variety of individual LEDs has now dramatically improved the spectral response, and digital technology also allows for all sorts of handy applications from full DMX control down to color accurate mapping of the lighting fixtures that can be driven by LED volumes.
Kino Flo came up with a popular trade-in program whereby they would take the older units in exchange for significant discounts on their latest LED technology. They convert the old housings into new housings for LEDs, and have successfully transformed thousands of units for many of the major rental companies. So, despite my trepidation, this is all good news. And if, like me, you still own fluorescents, you might start thinking of upgrading sooner than later. When you are ready to make the leap, remember that fluorescent tubes are considered hazardous waste, so be sure to carefully dispose of them as such.
More detail can be found in the TV Tech article by Lighting Designer Bruce Aleksander: https://www.tvtechnology.com/opinion/times-almost-up-for-fluorescent-lighting