Mercury in Compact Fluorescent Lamps
1. Why is mercury tolerated in compact fluorescent light bulbs?
Traditional incandescent light bulbs are
very energy-inefficient and are being phased out in the EU.
Compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) are a
popular alternative because they are cheaper to run and are more environmentally
friendly: CFLs use less energy than other lamps, so power stations need to burn
less coal and gas to produce electricity and this leads to lower
carbon dioxide and other
As opposed to incandescent or halogen light bulbs,
compact fluorescent lamps contain
mercury. The mercury content cannot
escape from the lamps, except if they break accidentally or if they are discarded
with unsorted household waste rather than recycled appropriately. If consumers
take back their burned-out lamps to collection points, the mercury content will be
recycled and not released to the environment.
directive on the restriction of hazardous substances in electrical and
(2002/95/EC), in short RoHS directive, generally forbids
mercury in electronic and electronic
equipment with some exemptions in duly motivated cases, such as CFLs.
The mercury tolerance for
Compact fluorescent lamps is currently
set at 5 mg per lamp and is subjected to reviewed on a regular basis.
[Note: It is scheduled to be gradually lowered to 3.5 mg in 2012 and 2.5 mg
from 2013 on with some variations depending on the specific lamp type. (Source:
amended RoHS directive )]
The complete elimination of mercury in
compact fluorescent light bulbs is still technically and scientifically
impracticable though reductions have been achieved.
(No 244/2009) implementing the
directive (2005/32/EC) sets ecodesign requirements that that household
lamps, other than light spots, must meet and indicates that the
compact fluorescent lamps with the
lowest mercury content include no more than
||Mercury content per bulb
|Maximum until 2011
|Maximum in 2012
|Maximum from 2013 on