Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Pros and Cons of Fluorescent Lamps

Fluorescent lamps and CFLs are four to six times more efficient than their incandescent counterparts and emit about the same amount of visible light, all while offering longer working life and saving significant energy costs. Further, energy-efficient lighting is one of the lowest-cost ways for the nation to reduce electricity use and greenhouse gases. Although incandescent light bulbs may seem like the cheaper option at the counter, consumers will actually save money on CFLs in the long run. While a CFL may cost about $2.00 per bulb, compared to about $0.50 cents for an incandescent bulb, a CFL is four to six times more efficient than an incandescent and lasts an estimated 8 to 15 times as long as an incandescent.

While all of this is positive, there is one major con to fluorescent lamps: mercury. Fluorescent bulbs and CFLs contain small quantities of mercury—which can cause environmental, safety and health consequences. While the amount of mercury used in an individual fluorescent bulb has decreased over the past years, one broken 4-foot fluorescent lamp in a small room or vehicle can release enough mercury vapor to exceed the OSHA mercury exposure 8-hour limit—posing a significant occupational health risk. Plus, mercury vapor can be emitted for weeks after a single bulb is broken.

Due to their mercury content, disposing of fluorescent lamps and CFLs is an important issue. It is important for consumers to realize that CFLs and fluorescent bulbs require special handling and disposal. They should be properly stored, transported and recycled to prevent these fragile bulbs from breaking and emitting hazardous mercury vapor. 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
VaporLok Products LLC

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