Mercury is included in a wide range of light bulbs. Mercury is important in lighting since it helps to the efficiency and longevity of the bulbs. Fluorescent and other mercury-added bulbs are usually more energy efficient and last longer than incandescent and other comparable lighting types. Incandescent lights contain some mercury. When an electric current is passed through a thin strip of metal, such as that found in an incandescent bulb, photons are emitted when electrons jump from higher energy levels to lower energy levels.
Fluorescent lights contain much less mercury than incandescents but they take up the mercury during production of the lamp. Also, any residual mercury in used bulbs should not be disposed of in municipal waste dumps or other areas where it could enter groundwater or pollute landfills. Instead, dispose of fluorescent tubes in commercial disposal facilities designed for this purpose.
The only use for mercury that does not involve electricity is in organic chemistry labs where elemental mercury is used in chemical reactions. This article focuses on the most common uses for indoor residential lighting; however, many other products that use mercury exist including thermometers, barometers, automobile headlights, bicycle lamps, and medical devices. All mercury-containing products must comply with federal regulations regarding disposal.
A light with mercury vapor With luminous efficacies ranging from 35 to 65 lumens per watt, mercury vapor lamps are more energy efficient than incandescent and most fluorescent lights. Their additional benefits include a long bulb lifetime of up to 24,000 hours and a high-intensity, pure white light output. Although they are no longer manufactured, these lamps are still sold today.
An incandescent lamp works by heating a small piece of metal until it glows. This process causes electrons to flow through the filament, which produces light when the current reaches the end of the filament. Incandescent lamps are very energy-efficient, but they produce less light per watt compared to other types of lamps. For example, a 100-watt incandescent lamp will give off about 17 watts of heat and require 3 volts to operate, while a 40-watt compact fluorescent lamp will give off only 5 watts of heat and need only 1.5 volts to do so.
A fluorescent lamp works by pumping electrons into mercury atoms, which in turn emit light when their energy levels drop back down. This process requires much less electricity than an incandescent lamp--as little as half its voltage--so they are capable of saving significantly on energy costs. However, like all forms of electric lighting, they contain hazardous materials that can cause damage to the environment if not disposed of properly.
Mercury vapor lamps are more energy efficient than incandescent and most fluorescent lights, with luminous efficacies of 35 to 65 lumens per watt. Their other advantages are a long bulb lifetime in the range of 24,000 hours and a high-intensity, clear white light output. The major disadvantage is their need for periodic replacement of the arc tube.
All light sources lose energy by radiation and heat conduction. Energy loss by radiation increases as frequency or color temperature decreases. Mercury vapor lamps have relatively low color temperatures (about 2,500 degrees K) so they lose energy by radiation too. But since they use waves across the entire spectrum from violet to red, some of them will fall within certain limits of human perception and be perceived as white light.
The advantage of mercury vapor over incandescent lamps is that it uses about one-third as much electricity. It is also less likely to burn out due to overload or misuse. Disadvantages include higher cost and risk of fire if not handled properly during installation and maintenance.
Overall, mercury vapor lamps are an efficient use of energy because they produce far more light per unit of power consumed than either incandescent or fluorescent lamps, while using less electricity than incandescents. They are also durable and don't break down like fluorescents do when exposed to excessive heat or vibration. These factors make them suitable for many different applications where these characteristics are desired or required.
Mercury is extremely hazardous to both people and wildlife. Mercury compounds are found in fluorescent tubes, compact fluorescents, germicidal, blacklights, metal halide, and other HID light bulbs. Mercury is not present in incandescent, halogen, or LED lamps. Removal of mercury-containing lighting will help prevent exposure to this harmful substance.
LED light fixtures do not contain mercury. The only component that contains mercury is the original lamp that was installed when the fixture was new. Regular inspections of lamps should be done by certified personnel to ensure that no old or broken lamps are left in place. If any lamps are found to be damaged or if you are replacing all the lamps in your fixture, these should be removed by a qualified person. Disposing of unused or obsolete lamps properly is very important to prevent exposure to mercury vapors. Consult your local government agency for proper disposal procedures.
Although incandescent bulbs do not contain mercury, they have a greater total mercury footprint than CFLs due to the coiled tube's energy efficiency. The number one source of mercury pollution, and energy-intensive incandescents cause those plants to burn more coal than CFLs do.
Comparing regular light bulbs to compact fluorescent lights (CFLs), conventional bulbs use more electricity and emit more greenhouse gases. They're also made from hazardous materials such as arsenic and carbon tetrafluoride which can leak into the environment if broken. However, modern CFLs are now being manufactured with improved quality packaging that should reduce exposure to children.
What about LED bulbs? They may be a future replacement for traditional lighting sources but they still contain heavy metals like mercury. There are currently no regulations in place to prevent companies from labeling products as "environmentally friendly" when they actually aren't. Also, most LED bulbs still consume more electricity than standard lamps, so replacing all traditional bulbs with LEDs would not reduce emissions or costs significantly.
Traditional streetlights used to be made from steel tubing covered in an aluminum shell. These structures were both heavy and expensive to ship to remote locations. Today, most municipal streetlights use lightweight, durable plastic poles with either fiber optics or electric bulbs attached to them. This improvement has reduced transportation costs and allowed cities to put poles in areas where money would otherwise be spent on rent for storage rooms.
Mercury, a crucial component in CFLs, enables a bulb to function as an efficient light source. CFLs typically contain four milligrams of mercury enclosed within the glass tube. This amount is too much mercury for most people to handle safely. If not disposed of properly, this mercury can leach into the soil and pollute local water sources.
CFLs must be disposed of properly to avoid contamination in the environment. Disposing of them by throwing them in the trash may contaminate your local landfill. Instead, follow the instructions below to ensure that you dispose of your CFLs in a safe way.
CFLs are made up of two parts: the glass tube and the ballast system. The ballast system consists of wires and capacitors that supply energy to the lamp while it is off. When you turn off a CFL, the voltage remains on the wire until the current falls below 5% of its peak value, which normally takes about 1 minute. At this point, the capacitor begins to charge again and the cycle repeats.
When you switch a CFL on, there is a brief high-voltage spark between the wire coming out of the fixture and your hand when you touch it.