Dispelling a few myths about CFLs

There's a wealth of information out there about compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), and while much of it is helpful, there's a fair amount of misleading or incorrect information.

So before you're tempted to start heating your home with incandescent bulbs, or to avoid buying CFLs due to health concerns, please take a few minutes to read the following information from BC Hydro Power Smart.

Myth: CFLs increase greenhouse gas emissions
Fact: Incandescent light bulbs are so inefficient at producing light, that 95% of the electricity they use goes towards producing heat.

When you replace them with CFLs, you may lose a tiny amount of heat, but you can more than offset the miniscule increase in your heating load by simply draftproofing and caulking your doors and windows. That alone can help you reduce your heating load by 10%. The GHG emissions of the increased heating requirements would only amount to 0.07% of B.C.’s total yearly emissions.

The bottom line is that CFLs are more efficient than incandescent light bulbs and they are better for the environment because they last at least eight times longer and therefore, create less waste.

It's not efficient to rely on the heat created by incandescent bulbs to heat your home. BC Hydro recommends using the most efficient lighting products your home lighting and the most efficient heating practices to heat your home.

Myth: The mercury in CFLs can be harmful to your health.
Fact: CFLs contain a very small amount of mercury – only two to four milligrams per bulb. In comparison, there are 500 milligrams of mercury in one amalgam dental filling and 3,000 milligrams in a typical household thermostat.

CFLs are not hazardous to operate:  the mercury in the bulbs is not released when the bulbs are being operated.

Despite the small amounts of mercury in CFLs, they should still be disposed of in an environmentally friendly way.

Myth: CFLs emit UV rays harmful to your health.
Fact:  There is no scientific evidence that links CFLs to health issues. All lighting sources emit UV rays, and CFLs do emit a very small amount of UV light. However, it's not a hazardous or harmful amount. The December 2009 Health Canada study found that CFLs as demonstrated by the test results do not pose a health hazard to the general population from either the ultraviolet radiation or the associated electric and magnetic fields.

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Source: BC Hydro News