Fluorescent lamps consume less electricity than conventional bulbs; however, mercury is the key element that makes them so efficient. Mercury is a toxin which can harm the nervous system, kidneys and liver. Today, only two percent of CFLs are recycled in the U.S., and millions of lamps are discarded. Most are crushed en route to landfills and incinerators, releasing mercury vapors that are inhaled by workers. Mercury residue in landfills forms methyl mercury gas, which is especially toxic.
Supporting Fluorescent Lamp Stewardship
In a grant project with the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments (SGVCOG), CPSC learned that nearly 50% of consumers and retailers were unaware of California’s mercury lamp disposal ban. Most consumers were unaware that the fluorescent lamps were hazardous, unaware of how to dispose of them properly, and they threw them in the trash out of convenience.
Not sure where to recycle your CFLs? Click HERE to find a location near you.
Articles & Press
- Mercury in Some Florescent Lights Presents Health Hazard – KTVU News, 11/11/11
- Bulb Recycling Program Debuts – Jennifer Huffman, Napa Valley Register, 4/22/11
- A Small Shadow is Cast on Energy Saving Light – Dana Hull, San Jose Mercury News, 7/13/10
- Compact Fluorescent Lamps Save Energy But Need to be Disposed of Properly – Dana Hull, San Jose Mercury News, 7/12/10
- Maine Adopts First in Nation Law to Recycle CFLs – Natural Resources Council of Maine Press Release, 5/28/09
- Case Study #3, Mercury Containing Household Products: Thermostats and Light Bulbs – Natural Resources Council of Maine, Product Stewardship Case Study
- Next Steps for Toxic Mercury Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs: Manufacturer Responsibility for Collection, Disposal a Must – Product Policy Institute, Issue Backgrounder, 7/10/07
- Manufacturer Take Back: The Next Step for Energy Efficient Lighting Products – Product Policy Institute, 5/5/07
- Summary of Research on Mercury Emissions from Municipal Landfills – Northeast Waste Management Officials’ Association, 10/03