Fluorescent lamps are not that hazardous

Re: Lighting the way to public incandescence (Letters).

It is so discouraging to see the misinformation about the problem of mercury in compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) popping up all over the place, including the top of a recent Leader letters’ page.

Our family has been using them for about 20 years now.

We started off with just two or three bulbs, since each one cost $15 to $20, and that was in 1990 dollars. Now, every location in our house that can hold a CFL has one.

Over the time we have used them, we have had to recycle at most  25 bulbs, or a little over one a year on average. I wonder how many watch batteries an average household throws in the garbage during a year. One tiny battery contains more mercury than one CFL.

Additionally, the mercury released in the generation of electricity must be factored into the equation, since incandescent bulbs use four times as much energy as CFLs.

In B.C., we are lucky that our own sources of electricity release little mercury, but at peak times when we have to import energy from other places, this can involve sources generated from the burning of fossil fuels.

In that case, incandescent bulbs can actually cause more mercury to be released into the atmosphere than CFLs.

So, let’s get on with saving our environment by reducing the energy we use.

We just need to make sure that we take the proper precautions and recycle the bulbs rather than throwing them in the garbage, so that the mercury in them is properly contained. We can also be early adopters of yet another new technology, and try out the new LED lights as they come to market.


Loretta Bogert-O’Brien, Surrey

Surrey North Delta Leader

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