The CFL conundrum


Vol NO: VOL. 13, ISSUE 81

"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 associati

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    Staff Reporter

    Though CFLs consume a fifth of the energy required by incandescent lamps, they contain highly toxic mercury. The absence of fixed standards for mercury content and the lack of disposal norms, even a decade after CFLs were introduced in India, mean there are huge quantities of mercury lying in our waste, seeping into our atmosphere and entering our food chain.

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