Saturday, August 25, 2007

Which has more Mercury, CFL's or incandescents


Mercury. It's the last reason that people haven't changed over to CFL's. Mercury is bad for the environment and bad for humans as well. Sounds horrible right?

Actually Mercury is bad, the problem is people don't realize the amount of Mercury that is released into the environment to run a regular incandescent bulb. Most of the electricity that is produced in the US comes from coal fired power plants. When you burn this coal, Mercury is released into the environment.

The amount of Mercury in a CFL is very small and getting smaller all the time as R&D improves technology all the time.

Now, you are using the same electricity from coal plants when you are running your CFL's, but of course you are using 1/3 to 1/4 the power you would when using an incandescent bulb. The amount of Mercury actually contained in the bulb is tiny compared to what is released into the environment from the coal power plants. Also, the Mercury from the power plants is released into the environment. The Mercury in the bulbs is trapped in the bulbs and would only be released if the bulb is broken. Most CFL's will last 5-15 years and end their life when they finally burn out. They can then be recycled thereby releasing no Mercury from the bulb itself.

Of course the CFL's are much better for your wallet as well. The electric bill savings over the life of the bulb far outweigh the additional cost for the purchase of the bulb.

The moral of the story is this: There is no good reason not to change all your bulbs to CFL's! They will save you money, save the CO2, and reduce the Mercury in the environment as well. Additionally, they don't burn as hot so when you are running the AC in your house they will release less heat and therefor save you money cooling your house.

Buy your CFL's!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The bogus argument is that there will be a reduction in toxic mercury into the environment with CFL’s due to the energy reduction from coal plants. (1) 50% of electricity does not come from coal plants in the US and coal plants are now mandated to reduce their mercury emissions by between 70% and 90% in the next several years. (2) Places like California produce very little energy from coal plants, so CFL energy reductions will not cut much mercury there. (3) The 5mg of mercury claimed for CFL’s is largely a goal and not the current reality which can be 300% to 600% higher. (4) CFL’s are made in China with energy from mostly very dirty coal plants that emit much more mercury than US coal plants. (5) CFL’s made in China spill as much mercury into the environment as goes into the CFL’s. (6) CFL’s are delivered here on ships using bunker oil, the worst mercury producer of the fuel oils. Incandescent bulbs are still almost all made in the US. (7) There is no recycling program in place or planned that could handle the number of CFL’s proposed. And after many years even the industrial recycling programs only handle 25% of the mercury from fluorescent lights. (8) It is likely that if any major recycling program is set up, the CFL’s will be shipped back to China for reprocessing. THUS, a massive CFL program will put a massive amount of toxic mercury into the environment and very likely into our kid’s bodies. And the EPA says that a sixth of them already have too much mercury in them.