Dud's blog
04 02 2008

Mon, 04 Feb 2008

Compact fluorescent bulbs and mercury

I see that the “pro-global-warming” contingent is now complaining
that compact fluorescent bulbs have mercury in them, which is toxic
waste, yada yada.

All fluorescent bulbs have some mercury in them. A Google search
and wikipedia read suggests the amount is under 6 milligrams per CF bulb.

What’s more interesting is that the amount of mercury emitted by
the power plant when it burns coal to make electricity over the
life of a CF bulb works out to be 10 milligrams. The Hg in the CF
bulb plus the mercury emitted by that same power plant to power
that CF bulb is under 10 milligrams, so running a CF bulb with
mercury in it is still a net win on mercury pollution.

When the bulbs die, they end up in a landfill.

Landfills are filled with terrible things that you don’t
want to eat, mostly.

If the mercury is in a landfill, and the people who
run landfills don’t put them where the “leachate” goes into
our drinking water, then I don’t see the harm. The mercury
will probably form Mercury Oxide or something, which is also
probably the form it was in when they dug it out of the earth
originally to make the bulb.

Sure, landfills suck and all that, but I think we have bigger
environmental problems than the existance of landfills.

I have no problem with minute amounts of mercury in a landfill.

If people avoid licking the inside of the dead bulbs,
and don’t use them to store baby food in, they’ll be OK.

Anyway, LED bulbs will eventually overtake CF bulbs, I predict, and
they won’t have any mercury in them. Maybe some lead, for the solder
joints, but you can’t have everything, can you?

posted at: 10:54 | path: | permanent link to this entry