CFL Mercury Concerns

Feb 28, 11 CFL Mercury Concerns

Many people have concerns about mercury present in CFL light bulbs, but we are here to discuss why the mercury concern has been blown out of proportion. The fact are very simple, nobody wants to expose their family and home to possible mercury contamination, but how can we alleviate these concerns with the growing popularity of CFL bulbs? The best way to address these concerns is to look at the reality of the situation. According to the Energy Star program, the average CFL bulb contains 4 milligrams of mercury. To put that into context, this amount of mercury is equivalent to the amount of mercury in a bite of albacore tuna. Also, an old-fashioned thermostat would have at least 500 milligrams.

By calculations, you actually have a role in releasing mercury into the environment whether you use CFL bulbs or not. When you use a traditional incandescent bulb, you need four times the amount of energy that you need for a CFL. Since the electrical plants are the biggest contributor to mercury release, you have the potential of four times the amount of mercury released when you use an incandescent bulb instead of a CFL. Even adding in the small amount of mercury inside the CFL bulb, this does not add up to even one-third of what releases when using an incandescent.

One concern many people have is that the mercury inside the lamp will get out if you break the bulb. Even though the bulb is made of glass, these bulbs are not fragile and can take normal handling. If a bulb breaks, then follow recommended guidelines for cleaning up. It is a simple process and does not require special cleaning materials or a call to your local HAZMAT. One reason why the mercury concern has been dramatized is because people do not understand the minuscule amount of mercury in each bulb and the simple cleaning process for removing it.

If a bulb burns out, make sure you recycle the bulb instead of sending it to the landfill. That is one way you can prevent mercury from entering the environment. Many solid waste agencies and even home improvement stores provide options for CFL bulb recycling. All you need to do is specify a special container to collect your bulbs. When you plan a trip for recycling or going to the home improvement store, take the bulbs with you and recycle them. Taking a few precautions and educating yourself will show you why the mercury concern is not as bad as it seems.

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