Compact Fluorescent Lamps Contain Mercury (CFLs) The white powder within the bulb is phosphor, a metallic compound. How do CFLs function? When a CFL is turned on, the mercury vapour emits short-wave ultraviolet (invisible) light, which causes the phosphor to glow and emit visible light. The lifespan of a CFL depends on how much usage it gets. If you use the lamp daily for example by reading lights or scene changes from DVD's, then it will need replacing more frequently than if used only occasionally.
What are the effects of breathing mercury vapor? Breathing mercury vapor can be harmful over time because the gas can get into your body through the lungs. Your body cannot rid itself of mercury immediately so it stores it inside other tissues where it can cause problems later in life. The most sensitive organs to mercury poisoning are the brain and the kidneys. People who work with mercury every day should take special precautions to avoid exposure to this toxic gas. Those who work with CFLs should follow these tips to minimize their risk of exposure: Use protective equipment when handling bulbs. Do not eat, drink, or smoke while working with CFLs. Dispose of broken bulbs properly using an industrial waste disposal site designed for hazardous materials.
Mercury has been shown to be toxic to humans in small amounts. It is known to cause neurological problems including insomnia, confusion, memory loss, and blindness. High doses can lead to death.
When power is applied to a CFL, mercury and argon vapors within the bulb emit invisible ultraviolet (UV) light. When you switch on a CFL, the UV light combines with the fluorescent coating to generate the white, visible light you see. Mercury is present in trace amounts in compact fluorescent lamps. It's an inert gas that doesn't cause any harm when it escapes during production or use.
CFLs are more efficient than incandescent lamps because they use less electricity to produce the same amount of light. They also last longer, are smaller in size, and are more environmentally friendly. These advantages make CFLs the perfect choice for home lighting.
CFLs should be used instead of incandescents only if you'll be saving energy anyway. If you live in an area where utility companies provide free electricity, then you already have incandescent lights so there's no need to buy new ones. Otherwise, you might as well save money by buying ordinary bulbs that use more energy.
The best thing about CFLs is that they don't contain mercury. Therefore, they're safe for children and animals. In addition, they don't break easily and can be replaced if they get damaged. These properties makes them ideal for use in classrooms and homes where they are likely to be handled by young people or pets.
CFLs have some drawbacks too.
An electric current is sent through a tube containing argon and a trace of mercury vapor in a CFL. This produces invisible ultraviolet light, which activates a fluorescent coating (called a phosphor) on the interior of the tube, causing it to emit visible light. The mercury in the bulb is locked up in the argon gas inside the tube.
CFLs are more efficient than traditional incandescent lamps because they use less electricity to produce the same amount of light. In addition, they last longer: The average CFL lasts 10 years while an incandescent lamp will last about 750 hours.
CFLs contain mercury, which can be released into the air when the bulb breaks or burns. As much as 3% of the mercury is lost during production of the bulb itself. Another source of contamination is unsold defective bulbs which remain in stockrooms or are discarded improperly. Improper disposal can lead to hazardous material regulations being violated.
The U.S. government regulates air quality after any major storm where high winds may blow pollution from landfills or compost sites away from populated areas. During a cleanup, special equipment is used to remove contaminated dust from the air. This process requires using large amounts of energy and often leads to errors in measurement. For example, after a hurricane most people throw out their old appliances instead of taking them to a recycling center.
Mercury is a necessary component in the operation of fluorescent lighting; it enables the bulbs to function as an efficient light source. Because CFLs contain tiny levels of mercury, it is critical to educate yourself on how to use, recycle, and dispose of these goods properly. For more information on mercury and its effects on the environment, visit www.epa.gov/mercury.
CFLs are made up of two parts: the glass bulb and the plastic tube that holds the bulb at bay. During manufacture, the glass bulb is filled with inert gas to make it lighter and prevent it from breaking when removed from the packaging. The gas fills up to three-quarters of the space inside the bulb.
The remaining quarter of the space is taken up by a small amount of mercury. This is the only element within the lamp that can cause harm if it is broken or damaged. Any exposed mercury should be handled carefully and disposed of according to EPA guidelines because mercury is toxic.
When you turn off the switch that powers your lamp, current flows through the filament, which causes it to glow red-hot. This heat evaporates some of the gases inside the bulb, leaving less gas behind. As the amount of gas decreases, so does the intensity of the glow, until finally the filament goes cold. This process is called "outgassing" and it's why your lamp needs regular replacement.
CFLs and the other light bulbs mentioned above contain a trace of mercury that is encapsulated within the glass tube. When a light bulb in your house fails, part of the mercury may be discharged as mercury vapor. If you are exposed to this gas, it will not do any harm to you. It is removed by your body through urine and feces.
The only way you are going to get mercury into your body is if you eat something that contains mercury or handle something that has mercury on it. Even then, it's very unlikely to be harmful. In fact, studies have shown that low levels of mercury exposure can be beneficial for your health. For example, one study showed that women who were highly exposed to mercury had higher rates of autism in their children, but those same women also had lower rates of hypertension and diabetes than women with lower levels of mercury exposure.
The only thing you should worry about if you break a CFL or any other type of light bulb is the small piece of burning wire inside the glass tube. This wire is coated in phosphorous, which is toxic if it comes in contact with oxygen, so make sure you don't put it back in the lamp after you remove it. Otherwise, all other parts of the bulb are harmless.