Mercury in Compact Fluorescent Bulbs


  Yesterday, I wrote about how I now use these energy saving bulbs. Although the levels have come down, and are much lower than levels in traditional fluorescent bulbs, the mercury in these energy saving bulbs still raises questions. Are the bulbs safe to use in our homes? The general consensus seems to be that yes they are, but if a Google search is done for "cfl + mercury", over 3/4 of a million results are returned. Obviously this is a much discussed subject and one that I can’t add much more on other than a short summary and description.

The amounts of mercury are small, but mercury is a very toxic element.  Although every CFL I have ever installed is still going strong, the bulbs should be recycled when they burn out, . The concern I have is cleaning up if one should ever break onto a carpet in our home. For this reason, I only use them where they are not likely to be bumped and broken. There are some sites that describe how to clean up if you do break one of these bulbs. Some say to open the windows, leave the room for a few hours, and then don’t use a vacuum. There is even a well known exaggerated cleanup story that has circulated the internet.

As you can tell from reading some of my other posts, I tend to err on the side of caution when it comes to exposure to chemicals. I do use these bulbs, however, as I think the risks are small and benefits great. Additionally, the use of traditional incandescent bulbs has its own mercury issues. Incandescent bulbs use much more energy and in the U.S. this energy is generated mainly by coal burning power plants that spew tons of mercury into the air.

I believe the real answer to our indoor lighting needs will come when the mercury in CFL’s is elliminated, or in years to come as LED light bulbs become better, cheaper, and more available. For now, CFL’s have their place, maybe just not in the free standing lamp in your child’s bedroom.

It's only fair to share...Share on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedIn
Will Sig
1 Will

Hi JJ! LOL! I had not thought of Alice in Wonderland when writing this. Hat makers really did go mad, though as this site details.



2 JJ

I’m cautious about being around any mercury. I keep thinking of the mad hatter.



3 Fiona Duthie

I have just found out that that UK government is planning to ban non energy light-bulbs. A report is due out this month I beleive, which will determine maybe the way forward in the future. I have changed as many light-bulbs in my home as I can to the low enegy type, and I have no problems with them at all.


4 Will

Welcome Fiona! I really liked this saying you have on your site:


Do you know where it originated? I might feature it prominantly here is permissible.

I’ll be back to read more of your articles. Looks quite interesting. Are you in the UK, or in Africa? Do you have an “about” page on your site?

There is a lot of resistance in the U.S. to government efforts to ban incandescent lighting. This will probably change now that CFLs can be purchased for close to the price of incandescent bulbs. I bought several a couple of days ago at 99 cents each! They are still normally 2 or 3 dollars apiece when not on sale.

Once LED bulbs get better and cheaper, incandescent will be done for.



5 Fiona Duthie

I live in Scotland Will. I am sorry I have no idea where
the above saying comes from, but I reckon it really has
something going for it. Excuse my ignorance but I don’t
have an ‘about page’ as I am even not too sure how to set
it up. Am not so hot on all the technicalities !!!


6 Will

No such thing as “ignorance” here, Fiona! Just stuff that has not been learned about yet. 🙂

You can see an about page by clicking on my link “about” at the top of this page. People seem to like reading about the person who authors articles they are interested in. In my case, I still get more direct email from readers than I do comments. Many of the people who visit here seem to like the personal directness of email rather than the comments threads. I encourage people to comment because I think it fosters more of a sense of community. Also it allows people other than me to contribute ideas and opinions. I really like that! JD and Anna have been really good about taking part here when they visit. Also, smaller sites like this offer more chance for everyone to be involved. When you post your next comment, you will pop up on the top commentator list with a link to your blog!

Take a look around here by clicking on things in my sidebar like the links under “Comments and Privacy” or “Content Use”. That shows you the sort of pages you can create when you use a more complete blog engine.

I think your site is great. I have only read a little so far, but you are a good writer who is making the topics you cover interesting for those who live far away from the issues you discuss.

I think your blog would benefit from being on a more complete platform, but that is only showing my preference. If you are getting lots of readers to your articles and it is easy for you to maintain, then Motime might be the best for you.

I use WordPress, which is more work and maintenance than some of the other common blog engines. On the other hand, WordPress allows much more control over your site.



7 Jason Petty recently got this press release concerning mercury content in CFL’s. We thought this could be of interest to your readers.


Use even less mercury with MaxLite’s™ low mercury compact fluorescent lamps. Reinforcing its goal of producing the lowest mercury CFLs, MaxLite™ was one of the first in the industry to participate in the National Electrical Manufacturer’s Association’s (NEMA) initiative, “Voluntary Commitment on Mercury in CFLs.” Participants in the program pledge to limit the mercury content of their self-ballasted CFLs (residential use only) with less than 25 watts to 5 mg. and those with 25-40 watts to 6 mg. per bulb. MaxLite™ CFLs utilize only 1.2 to 2.5mg of mercury per lamp; half the amount present on the tip of a ball point pen, as compared to typical CFLS containing 4 mg. of mercury.

Always ahead of the curve, MaxLite™ has created a unique procedure to control the amount of liquid mercury in its compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs). In its burner production, MaxLite™ accuracy is achieved by the utilization of a sealed tool akin to a medical injection tube. This permits defined quantities of liquid mercury to enter it each time the fluid is drawn. Then the identical amount of liquid mercury is infused into the burner. One amalgam dice is placed into the mercury control of the amalgam lamps. The amount of mercury is also fixed as the amalgam dice’s weight is controlled by amalgam manufacturers.

The low mercury quantity is the least amount MaxLiteâ„¢ deems feasible for a compact fluorescent lamp to maintain a long and productive life.


8 chaosgone

I use Compact Fluorescent Bulbs around the house where I can. I looking forward to when the LED lights become cheaper.


9 Will

Yeah – I really wonder about the high price of LED lighting. The makers are going to have to solve that before LEDs gain any real acceptance.


Cancel reply

Thank you for your comments

CommentLuv badge
My full comment policy is linked here, but please do not use a keyword as your name. For great referrrals and backlinks, link to your site in the box and by using CommentLuv

Previous post:

Next post: