Home > Committees > Tikkun Olam Committee: Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs) and Mercury

A CFL contains 4 mg of mercury and should therefore be properly recycled. The Lansing Board of Water and Light is now accepting them at 1232 Haco Drive, LansingLansing Board of Water and Light (please double bag in sealed plastic bags) and they can also be brought to KI where someone will periodically take them to the BWL.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has prepared a fact sheet to respond to questions and concerns about mercury in energy-efficient lighting that uses compact fluorescent technology: FACT SHEET: Mercury in Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs). The following is excerpted from that.

CFLs Responsible for Less Mercury than Incandescent Light Bulbs

CFLs present an opportunity to prevent mercury from entering our air, where it most affects our health.

  • The highest source of mercury in our air comes from burning fossil fuels such as coal, the most common fuel used in the U.S. to produce electricity.
  • Because a CFL uses 75% less energy than an incandescent light bulb, a power plant will emit only 2.4 mg of mercury to run a CFL for its lifetime vs. 10 mg of mercury to produce the electricity to run an incandescent bulb for the same amount of time.

Therefore, even if the CFL is not recycled, it adds less mercury to the environment over its life than do incandescents. In its lifetime, a CFL will add 6.4 mg to the environment (4 mg in the bulb plus 2.4 mg from burning coal) vs. 10 mg from the coal burned to run.

Need to recycle a CFL? Here are some important tips.

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