Are energy saving light bulbs bad for the environment?

Eco-friendly lightbulbs are a good thing for carbon emissions, but there is a tiny downside.

22nd July 2009
Are energy saving light bulbs bad for the environment? (iStock)

Asked by: Terri Mellersh, Stockbridge

The good news is that energy saving bulbs help to reduce carbon emissions. The downside is that they contain mercury. It's only present in tiny amounts - thousandths of a gram - but it can be environmentally damaging if the light bulbs are carelessly disposed of by, say, ending up in landfill. It's also harmful to breathe mercury in, so the official advice, if you accidentally smash a bulb, is to vacate the room and stay out for at least fifteen minutes.

 


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