This post is the second in a series on important differences between LEDs and CFLs, two of the most popular energy-saving light sources on the market today. You can read the first post about efficiency here.
Mercury is a toxic substance that can attack the brains and nervous systems of humans. CFLs (and all fluorescent lights) contain small amounts of mercury, LEDs do not. In the long run, this makes the LED a much safer, low maintenance light source.
Why do CFLs contain mercury?
The mercury, when excited by an electric current, helps the CFL generate light. This small amount of mercury, barely enough to cover the tip of a ballpoint pen, poses no threat to your health as long as it remains contained within the light bulb’s glass envelope. You only need to worry about it if the light bulb should break.
To safely deal with your CFLs, take them to an EPA approved recycling center. You can learn more about the importance of recycling CFLs in this blog post: Don’t Toss That CFL In The Trash.
What to do if your CFL breaks…
If you wind up with a broken CFL in your home, follow these steps for safe cleanup and disposal:
1. Put on gloves, a face mask, and protective clothing.
2. Gather the broken bits into a sealed container with a damp paper towel.
3. Turn off your central air and/or fans for 15 minutes.
4. Drop the container at a recycling center.
LEDs and Mercury…
You won’t find mercury in any LED light bulb or fixture. This is because LEDs generate light solely through the movement of electrons in a semiconductor material. No mercury is necessary! So, while CFLs are a completely viable and relatively safe light source, LEDs will let you rest a little easier.
Stay tuned for more information about CFLs and LEDs!