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Maryland State Government Maryland Department of the Environment

Press Release


Maryland Department of the Environment

Media Contacts

Robert Ballinger
(410) 537-3012

Kim Lamphier
(410) 537-3003

Statement on CFLs and Mercury   

Baltimore (February 13, 2008) Compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) are an important tool in efforts to reduce energy use, which benefits air and water quality and addresses climate change.

CFLs have several advantages over incandescent light bulbs. They last 8-10 times longer, use about 75% less energy, and produce 90% less heat while delivering more light per Watt. For example, a 25Watt CFL provides about 1800 lumens, whereas 100Watt incandescent lamp provides 1750 lumens. Use of CFLs reduces electricity use and the amount of pollutants such as nitrogen, mercury, and carbon dioxide emitted from power plants.

CFL bulbs contain up to 5 milligrams of mercury, the amount that would cover the tip of a ballpoint pen, as compared to older home thermostats and mercury fever thermometers, which contain between 500 to 30,000 milligrams of mercury.

The Department of the Environment urges consumers to use care when handling CFLs by screwing and unscrewing the bulb by the base. If a CFL bulb breaks, the amount of mercury released can evaporate into the air where it will likely remain at a level below safety standards set by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration.

CFL bulbs should be recycled after use, if at all possible. MDE strongly encourages consumers to take advantage of available local recycling options for used CFL bulbs. Some counties in Maryland have permanent sites for Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) collection, including CFLs, while others have collection events on certain dates throughout the year. Information about programs in individual counties can be found at If recycling is not an option, a CFL bulb may be placed in the household trash.

The Maryland Department of the Environment encourages citizens to reduce energy costs, protect the Chesapeake Bay, and help to combat climate change by using CFLs.



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