Energy | VOL. 13, ISSUE 81, November-December 2013

The CFL conundrum

Glowing inside the compact fluorescent lamp is a toxic substance, so poisonous that its direct ingestion can result in death. Mercury, the liquid silver metal that can be seen most commonly in thermometers, has made its way into at least 401 million sockets in homes across India. According to a September 2011 study by Toxics Link, an NGO that works on hazardous waste and products, the mercury content in fluorescent lamps in India varies between 2.27 mg (the size of the tip of a ballpoint pen), and 62.56 mg (about two grains of rice). Putting this in perspective with Nityanand Jayaraman’s article ‘One-gram mercury can kill a 25-acre lake’ published in Tehelka (July 31, 2010, Issue 30 Volume 7), means that an undocumented seepage of mercury from compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) could spell doom.   CFL Usage The estimated electricity consumption in India increased from 43,724 GWh during 1970-71 to 7,72,603 GWh during 2011-12 (Energy statistics, 2013 – report of the Central Statistics Office). And, since lighting consumes 18 per cent of the power generated, as estimated by the Electric Lamp and Component Manufacturer’s Association (ELCOMA, an association of all the electric lamp manufacturers of India established in 1970), the use of CFL is likely to bring down the energy demand in our country, as these lamps produce four times more light in one fifth...

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