mercury in cfl's


Subject: compact flourescents, mercury hazard? Date: Tuesday, April 17, 2007 5:10 PM
Seems a bit extreme? Mercury hazard and/or yellow jounalism?
http://www.wnd.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_IDU213
lee
I'm not sure how much mercury is in these bulbs but here is what and environmental group says: http://www.treehugger.com/files/2005/06/what_about_merc.php Mercury toxicity depends on molecule that contains it. If it were that toxic, all us older people would be dead from all the mercurochrome we used to use ;) Frank
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frank.logullo wrote:

Well, a compact fluorescent certainly contains a minute amount of mercury. As has every regular fluorescent ever sold. I don't advocate intentionally creating a mercury spill but I certainly don't panic about a broken fluorescent. And I'm still trying to figure out what the first linked URL means by "mercury powder". The powder in a any sort of fluorescent bulb is the phosphor. The mercury is inserted during manufacture as a small drop of liquid metal which partially vaporizes in the vacuum and is ionized by the current through the tube.
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John McGaw
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I don't know how much mercury is in those bulbs but am surprised that there is any at all. From what I understand, mercury is quite hazardous in the environment and is very hard to get rid of once it's there.
You are correct to say that everone who is still alive has survived mercury exposure. Too bad that the argument is weak. Folk who did not survive are not here to answer your post or to speak to the issue since they are dead.
I live in Minnesota which has a big mercury problem. It is airborne from Canadian smokestacks. Ironically, some of our seemingly most pristine lakes near the border are the most contaminated.
Some lakes have the equivalent of a skull and crossbones at the lakeside. The warnings are always for little or no consumption of fish from contaminated lakes for pregnant women and children. Adults are only to be allowed two servings per week!! Many laugh off the warnings but mostly they are fisherman and thus, expendable.
So mercury is no joke. I don't know how many have been poisoned but I'm sure public health officials have an estimate. It is believed to be under reported. and it is also believed that at least some poisonings have been attributed to other causes.
For example, many miscarrages have occured where no test was ever made for lead or mercury. Bottom line: mercury is worth avoiding and these environmentalist should have taken the issue more seriously before they promoted the bulbs. I cannot imagine that the bulbs can really be "green" if they contain this poison.
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metallic or a compound and the type compound. Most of the envirowhiners have extrapolated from toxicity of methyl mercury which is extremely toxic to include all mercury compounds. I don't know about you folks, but I've got several teeth with mercury amalgams in them and I'm not having them removed ;) Frank
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As pointed out already, there really is only a tiny amount of mercury used in fluorescent bulbs and is essential to its operation. And yes, the chemical form of the elements are likewise important. An unbroken bulb safely contains the mercury to the inside of the bulb. But chucking large numbers of these bulbs with reckless abandon in landfills is not a good idea. Proper collection and disposal is required.
Heavy metals (lead, arsenic, mercury, cadmium) are accumulated dose poisons in that they are retained in the body for extremely long periods of time before the body excretes them. For that reason even a low dose continuously ingested over long time interval is just as dangerous to health as a single large dose. A single low dose exposure entails minimum risk. A good analogy is radiation risk. The patient gets only a single dose but the administering technician must be concerned about accumulated repeated dose. Still psychologically it is still disturbing when the X-RAY technician runs and hides behind the lead shielding while you lie there all alone for the X-ray.
This is a risk/benefit scenario, energy savings versus some proper disposal control management.
Life is a compromise in many things.
Morenuf
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morenuf writes:

Just live green ... by making lots of garbage to dilute the mercury to negligible concentration in the landfill.
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Yes there is a small amount in all fluorescent lights. There is less the 1/1000 of an atmosphere pressure of gas in the fluorescent lamp that is mostly argon with a small amount of mercury vapor. As electrons are accelerated by the electric field they gain energy (hence the need for low pressure to give the electrons a chance to travel far enough to gain this amount of energy, they also need to be able to knock other electrons off of the gas to keep the process going) and excite the argon atoms which transfer the energy to the mercury atoms. The mercury gives up the energy as UV light. The UV strikes the phosphors on the walls of the lamp which convert the UV to visible light. Different types of phosphors give different types of lamps their characteristic color. Fortunately this is a fairly efficient process compared to regular light bulbs.
Hopefully we will have collection places for used fluorescent bulbs so that the mercury won't go into landfills or incinerators. Even still the amount of power saved reduces the total mercury pollution if coal is used to generate the power.
Interestingly a year ago I was in Mexico and noted the extensive used of CFF bulbs. I believe much of their power is generated with oil which would make it expensive.

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frank.logullo wrote:

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Bill
In Hamptonburgh, NY
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frank.logullo wrote:

Yes it is extreme, and I would not even call it journalism.
Yes there is mercury in them, a very very small amount. All fluorescent lamps have some. A number of years ago technology and regulation reduced that amount to almost nothing. The Cf's have even less.
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Joseph Meehan

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Lawrence wrote:

I did see that 4mg figure and I have even seen some smaller figures. In the context of the original story, 4mg is almost nothing. That was being totally blown out of reality.

You are certainly right there.

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