Fluorescent Lamp Recycling: Lighting the Future

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Courtesy of OMNI/ajax

An analysis of the lighting industry shows a trend shifting from the usage of incandescent bulbs to fluorescent bulbs. Incandescent bulbs use more fossil fuel energy, are more costly and are less effective than fluorescent bulbs in the amount of artificial light they produce as fluorescents produce more lumens than incandescents. Usage of fluorescent bulbs, however, is not entirely without risk because they contain mercury, a chemical compound that can have debilitating effects on humans upon prolonged exposure. The risk of leaving mercury deposits in landfill is high, therefore, recycling seems the most conscientious and environmentally safe recourse. Our analysis will show that a national fluorescent bulb recycling law not only helps the environment but promotes new business growth and job opportunities, as well.

The citations of the hazards of mercury exposure are well documented and compelling. Mercury poisoning has been linked to autism and proven to cause neurological damage and death. It was also acknowledged with the 19th Century English hat smith's derogatory 'mad as a hatter' moniker. The process of sealing the hats involving licking the glue used. This glue contained minor but damaging amounts of mercuric salt. Alternatives to using mercury in products are being researched and tested, but its use is still found primarily in precise measuring devices, such as thermometers, sphygmomanometer and barometers, dental amalgams, mercury switches and, most commonly, fluorescent bulbs.

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