CFLs suck – we’ve been duped.

May 16, 2008

This isn’t necessarily new news, but it was new to me. Carbon fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) have dangerous levels of mercury, need to be recycled (not thrown away) to be environmentally safe and don’t last nearly as long as they say they so unless you leave them on for extended periods of time.

The wikipedia entry is probably pretty decent, but I wonder what the truth is about how long the bulbs need to be on to ensure long life.

This post at the environmental defense fund’s site is a very interesting read. Make sure to read this comment by lees on March 13, 2008. I don’t know if Dr. Jim Balbus, the author of the blog post was trying to spin this up or not, but I have to say, my bullshit sensors went off just from the way he presented his arguments. The line about throwing them away in a ziplock bag really got to me – talk about a crock of shit.

So, I think we’ve been duped about the great benefits of CFLs. The idea that consumers will somehow become educated on the “proper applications” and disposal of light bulbs is seriously irresponsible.

Its not as bad as WMD, but its bad. Do you know where you can recycle these things? When is the last time you recycled one? How about your workplace? Are you using them there and do you think they are being recycled correctly? I bet most of them are being tossed in the garbage, just like most fluorescent bulbs were for decades.



  1. I wonder why nobody is bringing up the fact that large numbers of people WILL NOT dispose of these properly and this mercury WILL be going into our ground water???????? Also, has anyone noticed that when you look at the light at night shining out through windows, what used to look so cozy and inviting is just, well, not anymore. (on the homes with these lights)

  2. 1) It’s compact, not carbon fluorescent lights.
    2) The amount of mercury is much less than the amount put out while energy is being created at a coal powered plant
    3) They last just as long as states, if you don’t turn them off and on frequently (like in a bathroom)

  3. During the past month I purchased 2 CFLs from supermakets at large. One burned out in less than 2 weeks. The other burned out in less than a week. I replaced one of them and that one burned out in 3 days. This failure rate is unacceptable. All three were screwed into different recessed fixtures, which could have contributed to the problem. Five months ago I purchased 2 CFLs from Home Depot and used them in hanging fixtures. Those two are still working — knock on wood.

  4. Good for people to know.

  5. Joe is full of bull, or maybe he has mercury poisoning. So to save energy we leave the light on so the bulb doesnt burn out? Nonsense.

  6. I have also read that if they break in your house and it happens to break on carpet, then it’s near impossible by any conventional means to get the mercury out. It even emits mercury into the air when that area of carpet is rustled for weeks after the incident. This is undiluted mercury localized in your home where you and your kids and your pets live every day. I personally don’t like the idea of highly toxic chemicals being brought into my living space contained in a thin, super fragile, glass container.

  7. and the light is nasty. i think home depot accepts them for recycling as a positive note.

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