Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Mercury Debate: Is the CFL Bulb the Right Choice?

The 2007 energy conservation measure passed by Congress set standards to essentially ban incandescent lights by 2013, requiring households to make the switch to more energy efficient lights. However, many consumers are raising the question, whether or not CFLs and fluorescent bulbs are really the more efficient lighting choice. Due to their mercury content, many consumers are wary about placing them in their homes.

However, incandescent bulbs actually result in more mercury pollution than fluorescents. Because mercury is a byproduct of burning coal, coal-fired power plants are one of the largest sources of mercury pollution. Because incandescent bulbs use several times more electricity over their lifetimes, they require far more power generation and, ultimately, result in more mercury emission than fluorescents. With the coming “maximal achievable technology” clean air standards, it is fully expected that mercury emissions will have to be severely reduced in order to stop this proliferation. Fluorescent lights are four to six times more efficient than incandescent lamps, significantly reducing the power demand from local utilities. The reduced demand for electricity in turn reduces both greenhouse gas and mercury emissions.

Furthermore, consumers can safely use energy efficient bulbs if they are properly handled and disposed of when broken or burned out. Learn how to safely clean up a broken bulb or safely package a used bulb to send to a recycling facility.

Brad Buscher
Chairman and CEO

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