Why Are CFLs Scary And Household Chemicals Like Ammonia Are Not?

Part of the backlash against compact fluorescent lamps has been that they contain mercury.

The argument doesn’t hold up on one level, which is that incandescent lamps require more power, which means power plants must burn more fossil fuels to satisfy that requirement, and thereby emit more mercury into the environment than CFLs. This type of mercury is aerosolized, is spread across the environment, and is more dangerous.

Part of the backlash has been to quote scary EPA requirements for cleaning up CFLs as a way to discredit their potentially positive environmental impact. I never understood the fear these requirements are supposed to produce. A lot of people use ammonia for cleaning, but look at the safety recommendations for handling that. What about bleach? What about other household cleaners?

Makes you wonder.


  1. […] for the mercury that is released into the atmosphere from coal-fired electrical generators, incandescents cause more mercury to be released into the […]

  2. Paul says:

    Incandesent lights put out heat as well as light, In the winter, when more lighting is required, homes are heated as well, so energy is not wasted, but helps heating home, so energy is not really wasted. And CFLs slowly get dimmer, so lifecycle is overstated, incandesents are 100% until they burn out.
    Ammonia evaporates, bleach decomposes, mercury is forever.
    Ammonia and bleach have distictive odors to warn if present. Mercury does not
    LD 50 Bleach is 8900 mg/kg, Ammonia 350 mg/kg, Mercury 50mg/kg

    CFLs are junk tech. Wait for LEDs to replace incandesent.

    questions answered? C

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