Mercury Myth: Real Reasons to Choose CFL and LED Lighting Installation
It’s not safe! We’ve all heard about the dangers of mercury, time and time again. But what’s the real reason you should choose newer types of lighting installation, such as CFLs (compact fluorescent light bulbs) and LEDs (light emitting diodes)?
First, we thought we’d give you the lowdown on mercury. What it is and why you should or should not be concerned. As the only metal that is liquid at standard conditions for temperature and pressure, mercury (symbol Hg and atomic number 80), also known as ‘quicksilver’, has been used in a variety of ways since its 1500 B.C. discovery. From dental restoration to the bulb of a mercury-in-glass thermometer, the uses for the chemical compound mercury are many.
However, it is now understood that large amounts of mercury can cause both chronic and acute poisoning, and in some cases death. The compound can be absorbed through the skin and mucous membranes and mercury vapors can be inhaled — hence the reason most developed nations, as well as the World Health Organization (WHO), classify mercury as an occupational hazard. But when it comes to mercury and lighting and lighting installation, there are a few important things you should know:
- Why we use mercury in some lighting devices and lighting installations: Electricity passed through mercury vapor produces short-wave ultraviolet light. This causes the phosphor in the tube to fluoresce or illuminate.
- CFLs contain very small amounts of mercury, more like 3 to 5mg. By comparison, a wristwatch battery contains nearly five times this amount. Try 60 to 200 times this amount for a single, silver dental filling!
- Eating mercury-contaminated fish is the main source of mercury exposure for many.
- LEDs contain no mercury; but mercury exposure from a broken CFL is unlikely to be hazardous.
Therefore, the real reason you should be choosing CFL or LED lighting installation is by far energy efficiency.
A CFL lighting installation saves money on energy consumption costs by burning brighter and longer than incandescent light bulbs. And an LED lighting installation, which is the most technologically advanced of all lighting solutions, eclipses the incandescent light bulb by burning cooler, brighter and longer, sometimes up to 50,000 hours (5 years!) for a single bulb.
Is mercury bad for your health? Yes! Are CFL light bulbs bad? No. CFL bulbs are designed to seal very small amounts of mercury tightly inside.
Lastly, 1-888-burnt-out does not advocate the handling of hazardous materials by untrained consumers. Although dangerous mercury exposure is unlikely to occur inside the home, clean up spills and ventilate the immediate area promptly.
Ask a 1-888-burnt-out? electrical contractor about how an LED lighting installation can save you money.