Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Compact Fluorescent Lighting: Are We Trading Energy Conservation For Toxic Mercury Emissions?

Date:
October 3, 2008
Source:
Yale University
Summary:
New research shows certain countries and some US states stand to benefit from the use of compact fluorescent lighting more than others, and some places may even produce more mercury emissions by switching from incandescent light bulbs to CFLs.

Some places may produce more mercury emissions by switching from incandescent light bulbs to compact fluorescent lighting, a new study suggests.
Credit: iStockphoto/Jon Schulte

A team of Yale scientists has found that certain countries and some U.S. states stand to benefit from the use of compact fluorescent lighting more than others in the fight against global warming. Some places may even produce more mercury emissions by switching from incandescent light bulbs to compact fluorescent lighting.

Related Articles


The study, which appears online October 1 in the journal Environmental Science and Technology, looked at all 50 states and 130 countries to determine the impact of fluorescent lighting on total mercury emissions in those regions.

Estonia, which relies heavily on coal-powered energy generation, tops the list as the country that would see the greatest reduction in mercury emissions for every incandescent bulb it replaces with a compact fluorescent light bulb (CFL). However, given its similar reliance on coal-fired plants, coupled with its huge population, China stands to reduce its mercury emissions by the greatest overall amount. Other countries near the top of the list include Romania, Bulgaria and Greece; within the U.S., North Dakota, New Mexico and West Virginia have the greatest potential to reduce their mercury emissions.

But much of South America, Africa, the Middle East and parts of Europe, along with Alaska, California, Oregon, Idaho and several New England states, would actually increase their mercury emissions by making the switch from incandescent to fluorescent lighting. The results depend on a complex relationship between a number of factors, including how dependent a region is on coal-powered energy generation, the chemical makeup of the coal used in those plants, and existing recycling programs for CFLs.

"Compact fluorescent lighting is an area where we're really pushing this alternative and all these policies are being enacted, but we're not looking at the potential unintended consequences of what we're doing," said study author Julie Beth Zimmerman, an assistant professor in Yale's Department of Chemical Engineering and its School of Forestry & Environmental Studies.

Touted as a greener alternative to traditional lighting, CFLs are about four times more energy-efficient than incandescent bulbs and last up to 10 times longer. This increased efficiency lessens the energy demand on generating stations powered by fossil fuels and reduces greenhouse gas emissions, as well as the amount of packaging and old light bulbs that end up in landfills. But unlike incandescent light bulbs, CFLs contain mercury, a toxin with potentially hazardous effects that can be released during manufacturing and disposal.

"It's always good to promote energy efficiency, but it's always a tradeoff," said lead author Matthew Eckelman, a graduate student in Yale's Department of Chemistry and the Center for Industrial Ecology. "You may get a lower energy bill at home, but you don't see the emissions or the runoff downstream."

While the researchers stress that their study isn't an excuse to ignore the energy problem and stick with old, inefficient technologies, they caution that nation-wide strategies such as recent bans on incandescent bulbs, adopted by several countries including the U.S., may be too general. "All sustainability issues are local," said Zimmerman. "We need to ask if we should be making decisions on a national level, or if this is something better left to local governments."

The authors of the paper are Matthew Eckelman, Paul Anastas and Julie Beth Zimmerman, all from Yale University.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Yale University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Yale University. "Compact Fluorescent Lighting: Are We Trading Energy Conservation For Toxic Mercury Emissions?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 October 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081001093454.htm>.
Yale University. (2008, October 3). Compact Fluorescent Lighting: Are We Trading Energy Conservation For Toxic Mercury Emissions?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081001093454.htm
Yale University. "Compact Fluorescent Lighting: Are We Trading Energy Conservation For Toxic Mercury Emissions?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081001093454.htm (accessed October 25, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

EU Gets Climate Deal, UK PM Gets Knock

EU Gets Climate Deal, UK PM Gets Knock

Reuters - Business Video Online (Oct. 24, 2014) EU leaders achieve a show of unity by striking a compromise deal on carbon emissions. But David Cameron's bid to push back EU budget contributions gets a slap in the face as the European Commission demands an extra 2bn euros. David Pollard reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Deep Sea 'mushroom' Could Be Early Branch on Tree of Life

Deep Sea 'mushroom' Could Be Early Branch on Tree of Life

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 24, 2014) Miniature deep sea animals discovered off the Australian coast almost three decades ago are puzzling scientists, who say the organisms have proved impossible to categorise. Academics at the Natural History of Denmark have appealed to the world scientific community for help, saying that further information on Dendrogramma enigmatica and Dendrogramma discoides could answer key evolutionary questions. Jim Drury has more. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Tornado Rips Roofs in Washington State

Raw: Tornado Rips Roofs in Washington State

AP (Oct. 24, 2014) A rare tornado ripped roofs off buildings, uprooted trees and shattered windows Thursday afternoon in the southwest Washington city of Longview, but there were no reports of injuries. (Oct. 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Fast-Moving Lava Headed For Town On Hawaii's Big Island

Fast-Moving Lava Headed For Town On Hawaii's Big Island

Newsy (Oct. 24, 2014) Lava from the Kilauea volcano on Hawaii's Big Island has accelerated as it travels toward a town called Pahoa. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins