The new bulb, what is it?
This is not your mother’s light bulb!
Compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) contain a small amount of mercury, about 3-4 milligrams each,sealed within the glass tubing.
CFLs produce light differently than incandescent bulbs. In an incandescent, electric current runs through a wire filament and heats the filament until it starts to glow. In a CFL, an electric current is driven through a tube containing argon and a small amount of mercury vapor. This generates invisible ultravioletlight that excites a fluorescent coating (called phosphor) on the inside of the tube, which then emits visible light.
CFLs need a little more energy when they are first turned on, but once the electricity starts moving, use about 75 percent less energy than incandescent bulbs. A CFL’s ballast helps “kick start” the CFL and then regulates the current once the electricity starts flowing.
This entire process typically takes 30 seconds to 3 minutes to complete, which is why CFLs take longer than other lights to become fully lit. CFLs with decorative covers like globe or reflector shapes have a unique design challenge that results in the tradeoff of a slower warm up time, which is why these CFLs take longer than bare spirals to reach full brightness.
Older CFLs used large and heavy magnetic ballasts that caused a buzzing noise in some bulbs. Most CFLs today — and all ENERGY STAR qualified CFLs — use electronic ballasts, which do not buzz or hum.
To minimize exposure to mercury vapor, EPA recommends that residents follow the cleanup and disposal steps described below. This cleanup guidance represents the minimum actions recommended to clean up a broken CFL, and will be updated as EPA identifies more effective cleanup practices. You can download a safety cleanup brochure here: www.epa.gov/cflcleanup .