Fluorescent Lamps

With the rise in national media attention to energy supply and cost issues, has come increased attention on energy savings measures, especially Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs). With this attention has also come concern about the safety of these types of light bulbs.

Fluorescent lamps-including CFLs contain trace amounts of vaporized Mercury, a heavy metal and known neurotoxin.  The Mercury, or Hg, content of CFLs is typically in the range of .4 mg.  To provide some comparison, a typical, industry-standard T-12 commercial fluorescent lamp contains in the neighborhood of 20mg of vaporized Mercury.  Older glass thermometers for home use typically contain 500 mg of liquid Mercury.

While in operation and as long as the bulb is intact, CFLs do not release Mercury, and their use actually leads to an overall decrease in Mercury in the environment through reductions in electricity generated by the combustion of coal. CFLs use 75% less energy than incandescent bulbs, resulting in average savings per bulb of $35. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) also estimates that if every American changed at least five incandescent bulbs to CFLs, greenhouse gases emissions equivalent to that from nearly 10 million cars would be avoided.

Additional Information
For additional information, contact the Stormwater Quality Division at 405-739-1049.