Humongous water pollution from compact fluorescent light bulbs

Supporters of compact fluorescent light bulbs like to talk about their benefits to our environment.  Here’s an example from CryuSpace.com:

One Compact fluorescent lamp… saves more than 2,000 times its own weight in greenhouse gasses.

Two Thousand Times. Think about it, if we all replace all our bulbs with CFLs what could happen? The average American household has 16-20 light bulbs. That’s 32,000 – 40,000 times less. Isn’t that quite an impact, just from ONE person?

Yes, let’s do think about it!  Let’s answer the quesiton: “if we all replace all our bulbs with CFLs what could happen?”

There are about 300 million people in the United States.  Let’s assume the average household has 4 people.  That makes 75 million households.  If the average American household has 16 light bulbs (the low end of the estimate from CryuSpace.com) then “if we all replace all our bulbs with CFLs” that makes 1.2 billion CFLs in place.

As we’ve noted previously, the mercury from one fluorescent bulb can pollute 6,000 gallons of water beyond safe levels for drinking.  So “if we all replace all our bulbs with CFLs” then we’re introducing enough mercury into the environment to pollute 7.2 trillion gallons of water beyond safe levels for drinking.

Of course, not all of the mercury from these light bulbs will pollute our environment. Not if you send your light bulbs to Washington!

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “Humongous water pollution from compact fluorescent light bulbs

  1. Anonymous

    Has anyone noticed the huge hard plastic base on all compact fluorescent bulbs? How is that green? Look at a regular light bulb…you can smoosh the metal base with two fingers… and…I think we are all aware that metal rusts and decomposes quite quickly which seems a whole lot greener than petroleum based hard plastic. Also, if you happen to read the breakage instructions, you will note that it is advised to wear disposable rubber/latex gloves and/or use paper towels and a sealed plastic bag to dispose of a CFL. Gee, that’s really environmentally friendly. Well folks, you can be your own judge on this one. I’m sticking to my low wattage INCANDESCENT bulbs!

  2. Catherine

    Has anyone noticed the huge hard plastic base on all compact fluorescent bulbs? How is that green? Look at a regular light bulb…you can smoosh the metal base with two fingers… and…I think we are all aware that metal rusts and decomposes quite quickly which seems a whole lot greener than petroleum based hard plastic. Also, if you happen to read the breakage instructions, you will note that it is advised to wear disposable rubber/latex gloves and/or use paper towels and a sealed plastic bag to dispose of a CFL. Gee, that’s really environmentally friendly. Well folks, you can be your own judge on this one. I’m sticking to my low wattage INCANDESCENT bulbs!

    •  lighthouse

      Thanks Catherine..
      and incidentally, those big fluorescent bulb bases make them harder for existing fittings too – ever tried putting the “flame” or “candle” shaped types into small side lamps, chandelier type lamps etc… often not fit

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