Compact Fluorescent Bulbs
EPA encourages Americans to use compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) for residential lighting to save energy and prevent greenhouse gas emissions that lead to global climate change. Fluorescent light bulbs contain mercury.
Why is Recycling CFLs Important?
Recycling prevents the release of mercury into the environment. CFLs and other fluorescent bulbs often break when thrown into a dumpster, trash can or compactor, or when they end up in a landfill or incinerator.
Other materials in the bulbs get reused. Recycling CFLs and other fluorescent bulbs allows the reuse of the glass, metals and other materials that make up fluorescent lights. Virtually all components of a fluorescent bulb can be recycled.
For your local CFL recycling options, click here. Some states and local jurisdictions have more stringent regulations than U.S. EPA does, and may require that you recycle CFLs and other mercury-containing light bulbs. California , Maine, New Hampshire, Minnesota, Vermont and Massachusetts, for example, all prohibit mercury-containing lamps from being discarded into landfills.
Information taken from http://www.epa.gov/cfl.
Why Compact Fluorescent Bulbs?
Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs last longer, cost less in the long run, save energy and lessen negative impact on the environment. Research shows that compact fluorescent bulbs use around 75% less energy to produce the same amount of light as incandescent bulbs. Research also shows that the life of compact fluorescent bulbs (up to 10,000 hours) lasts 10 times longer than incandescent bulbs (up to 1,000 hours). When buying a bulb, the cost ($3-$10 per bulb) may seem high but they use about 1/3rd of the electricity of an incandescent bulb. The savings passed on to the consumer in energy can range from $20-$40 during the life of each bulb. An example from the EnergyStar (program run by the Environmental Protection Agency) website states that if each U.S. home replaced one incandescent bulb with a compact fluorescent, the energy savings would be able to light 3 million homes and reduce greenhouse gas emission equal to that of 800,000 cars. Coal power plants are one of the largest sources for mercury released into the atmosphere, bodies of water, et al. so installing compact fluorescents would reduce the amount of electricity needed to be produced at a coal-plant thus greatly reducing the amount of mercury released. An 18-watt replacement would reduce carbon-emissions by 110 lbs per year; a 27-watt replacement would reduce carbon-emissions by 140 lbs per year. It's estimated that if every home in the U.S. replaced five incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescents it would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 1 trillion lbs, an energy savings of around $6 billion.
Why Do Compact Fluorescent Bulbs Use Mercury?
Compact Fluorescent bulbs do use Mercury. The small amount of mercury, between 4 and 6 milligrams per bulb, are not enough to pose a serious hazard to your health or environment even in the circumstance that one breaks. Compact Fluorescent's are glass tubes filled with gas and a small amount of mercury. The mercury molecules in the tube react when electricity runs between the two electrodes at the bottom of the bulb. The Mercury then emits ultraviolet which becomes visible. This is the reason compact fluorescents are more efficient than incandescent bulbs. Incandescent bulbs produce light by heating the filament inside the bulb which when reaches a certain temperature lights the filament which becomes visible. The issue is that most of the electricity is lost heating the bulb instead of transferring electricity.