There’s no doubt that compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) are better for the environment—and our pocketbooks—than traditional incandescent bulbs. CFLs use up to 75% less electricity than incandescent bulbs and last up to 10 times longer.
Concerns about the mercury in CFLs have raised questions about how to properly dispose of them. CFLs contain a very small amount of mercury—an average of 4 milligrams—sealed within the glass tubing. (By comparison, older thermometers contain about 500 milligrams of mercury.) Mercury is an essential part of CFLs; it reacts with the coating on the inside of the glass tube to produce light using very little electricity.
Because mercury is toxic, follow these tips to safely handle a CFL bulb:
• Hold the bulb by its base and not the glass part
• Never forcefully twist the CFL into a light socket