Mercury helps produce light in compact fluorescent bulbs and that's been a concern to some consumers worried about the element's toxicity. The Environmental Protection Agency and environmental groups have said that the amount of mercury, which is sealed within the CFL’s glass tubing, is very small and that an old-style thermometer contains 100 times that amount or more. Still a dozen CFL manufacturers recently agreed to lower the maximum mercury allowed, according to the National Electrical Manufacturers Association, a trade group.
The NEMA members include Feit, GE, Philips, and Sylvania and the bulbs—all Energy Star-qualified—are already on store shelves. They contain at least 1 milligram less mercury than the current Energy Star caps. For example, a CFL using less than 25 watts, caps the average mercury content at 4 milligrams, and for a CFL that uses 25 to 40 watts, the average content is 5 mg. at most. Using an average allows for slight variations in manufacturing—3.9 to 4.1 mg. for example—says Craig Updyke, NEMA’s manager for trade and commercial affairs.
Energy Star requirements will be revised next year, and the mercury requirements revisited, says Maria Vargas, a spokesperson for Energy Star. While Energy Star requires a third party to verify some of the manufacturer’s tests, it does not require independent verification for mercury content. And there isn’t an accepted test for determining it. We worked with an outside lab to develop a test last year and found that all the CFLs we tested had significantly less than 5 mg. of mercury and some had less than 1 mg.
CFLs should be recycled, not tossed in the trash, so that the mercury isn’t released into the environment. Check with your sanitation department about recycling used CFLs, or drop them off at a nearby Home Depot. Most Ikea stores also collect and recycle these bulbs. If a CFL breaks, follow our cleanup tips, and for the latest on CFLs, see our free report on lightbulbs and our Ratings, which are available to subscribers.
Mercury CFL Bulbs should be recycled. I and the public at large did not know that used CFL Bulbs can be dropped off and recycled at the Home Depot. Thank you for the Info.
It's my understanding that the decades-old, ubiquitous 48" 40W standard "shop light" fluorescent tube contains far more mercury than the typical CFL. So I find the current hue and cry about Hg in CFLs a bit odd.
We don't want to worry about cleaning up breakage, nor recycle these bulbs. Also, we need a higher wattage in our senior years. We are stocking up on the regular bulbs, and refuse to use the CFL's.
Some reduction is not enough. Mercury is too toxic and will only accumulate in our environment. CLF bulbs should be outlawed and replaced with incandescent and LED bulbs.
I switched over to CFLs 10 or 12 years ago, and had already heard about the need to recycle the mercury. I am disappointed that CR has taken so long to provide this info. I am about ready to change over to LED which has been available in decorative lighting for at least a year and screw in bulbs are now on the shelves. I asked CR a couple of years ago if they had any plans to Test and evaluate alternative energy products such as PV panels and windmills. Fossil fuels are not clean yet and need to be tested for mercury and other toxic elements which are a danger to our health and safety.
Ace Hardware also accepts used CFL's
I am excited for the mainstream use of LED light technology as it doesn't have any mercury and, if I understand correctly, is even more efficient than fluorescent.
For Rodhopper and other alarmists, let's consider something: The CFL contains 5mg of mercury. They last (from my experience) about 30 months, or 2.5 years. They use a quarter of the electricity that the same lumen incandescent lamp does. They pay for themselves (at $2.75 each) in between four and 6 months of use in our home (4-6 hrs/day).
If you calculate out the amount of coal that is NOT burned due to the electrical savings of using a CFL, you will find that we are preventing the release of far more than 5mg of mercury, so the use of CFLs represent a net gain for the environment. As they can be recycled safely (not every bulb will be smashed by careless users), the gain is even more substantial.
If you believe in removing Hg from the environment, you need to remove it from the source: coal fired plants. If you live east of the Mississippi, you are breathing Hg every day. You eat it from your food, particularly seafood harvested from the Gulf or Atlantic. It comes primarily from coal-generated electricity. CFLs make a measurable different. Burning incandescent lights means YOU are contributing unnecessarily with the problem, not avoiding it.
As a senior, I too am disinterested in harboring mercury in
my home. Where do I find LED bulbs? They are never advertised
and CR has nothing on them. I tried to get rid of one of the
old-fashioned fluorescent garage-type bulbs and the trash co.
refused to pick them up. Does Home Dept. accept these as well?