Are compact fluorescent light bulbs safe to use?
Compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) are an important tool in the overall effort to reduce energy use. Using long-lasting, energy efficient CFL bulbs reduces energy consumption, improves air and water quality, saves money and contributes to efforts combating climate change.
CFLs can save 75 percent of the electricity used by incandescent light bulbs and produce 90 percent less heat while delivering more light per watt. For example, a 25-watt CFL provides about 1800 lumens, compared to 1750 lumens from a 100-watt incandescent lamp. CFLs cost a bit more up front, but a fluorescent bulb can last for five to seven years. CFLs use less electricity and can reduce the amount of pollutants such as nitrogen, mercury, and carbon dioxide emitted by certain power plants.
Virtually all components of a CFL or any other fluorescent light bulb can be recycled. The metal end caps, glass tubing, mercury and phosphor powder can all be separated and reused. The recycled glass can be remanufactured into other glass products, and the mercury can be recycled into new fluorescent light bulbs and other mercury-containing devices.
With just a little care, a CFL can be just as safe as any other light bulb, but it is important to dispose of used bulbs properly. Fluorescents contain mercury, a by-product that should not go into landfills. The Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) strongly recommends that Marylanders take advantage of local recycling options available for used CFL bulbs. Please visit www.mde.state.md.us/recycling for more information on how to recycle CFLs.