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Yes, CFLs contain mercury but rest assured you are safe.

Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs (CFLs) and Mercury Dangers Debunked

A recent conversation which took place on the EPA’s official Facebook page was the catalyst for this article.  The discussion unfolded when someone commented that they had replaced all their incandescent bulbs with energy efficient CFLs and started to save money on their electric bill.  From there someone else joined the conversation, sparking the debate that CFLs contain mercury and are therefore unsafe for home use.  There is no mystery here, the CFL bulbs do contain mercury, mercury is a potent neurotoxin, but the question remains, are the bulbs safe for your house?

How Much Risk Does a CFL Have?

CFL Bulbs Are SafeFirst let’s examine mercury…  It is a known fact that mercury exposure is dangerous, depending on the level of exposure and type of mercury you are exposed to, the symptoms could vary from skin discoloration and kidney dysfunction to memory impairment.  Common CFL bulbs contain about 4 milligrams (mg) of mercury, compare that to older thermometers that you used growing up which contain about 500mg.  Additionally, most manufacturers are now able to reduce the total volume of mercury to about 1mg thanks to technological advances in the industry.  You should also consider that the bulbs that light most office buildings, retail stores and even doctor’s offices are also fluorescent.

CFL Bulbs Will Actually Reduce Mercury in the Environment

The U.S. is responsible for 103 metric tons of mercury emissions each year, half of which comes from power plants burning coal.  This mercury often mixes with water and accumulates into fish and other sea life.  Consumption of tainted fish is the primary cause of human exposure to mercury, not broken CFL bulbs.  In fact, CFL bulbs actually reduce the levels of mercury in the environment by helping cut the emissions from the main polluters, the coal fired power plants.  CFLs reduce energy consumption, lower greenhouse gases and minimize landfill waste, thus they are the clear winner when compared to traditional incandescent bulbs.

Find Compact Fluorescent Bulbs for Your Home or Office Now.

Lastly, exposure can only occur if you break the CFLs’ glass, there is no exposure by simply touching an intact CFL bulb.  We can’t stop web rumors or conjecture but the facts are in, compact fluorescent bulbs are safe for your home.   The best way I can convince you of that is that we have them throughout our home where two children play happily.

Image By: Dan

Comments (1)
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    David King Jan 13 2013 - 1:59 PM Reply

    I would love to see at least one creditable source for the content on this site…here’s an example: CFL lamps contain mercury, a powerful neurotoxin that adversely affects the function and development of the central nervous system in both people and wildlife. [Source: National Wildlife Foundation –]
    Here is another example of how to provide creditable information that is based upon studies and facts as opposed to an opinion: Exposures can occur when elemental mercury is spilled or products that contain elemental mercury break and expose mercury to the air, particularly in warm or poorly-ventilated indoor spaces. Symptoms include these – tremors, emotional changes (e.g. mood swings, irritability, nervousness, excessive shyness), insomnia, neuromuscular changes (such as weakness, muscle atrophy, twitching), headaches, disturbances in sensations, changes in nerve responses, performance deficits on tests of cognitive function. At higher exposures there may be kidney effects, respiratory failure and death. [Source: Environmental Protection Agency –].
    Now I, [Source: David King – President of King Electrical Services, Inc] will add my professional opinion…I have witnessed an alarming number of CFL lamps which fail (end of life) prematurely by reaching temps in excess of 200°F resulting in the melting of the plastic housing at the screw shell where the electronic circuit board is housed. The CFL’s I have witnessed fail in this manner have emitted smoke accompanied by a burning smell. This smoke and smell is undoubtedly filled with mercury. An example of this can be found in a video on YouTube at
    In addition to these sources above, and my professional opinion as a licensed electrical contractor, please see the most damning evidence that CFL’s (Compact Fluorescent Lamps) are health hazards at (Environmental Protection Agency) where we are instructed on how to clean up a broken CFL. Simply put, if CFL’s pose no health risks as you claim then why does the EPA recommend these extreme measures of clean up?
    -David King (President of King Electrical Services, Inc.)

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