1 US Environmental Protection Agency
FAct: they only contain a very small amount
CFLs contain just a few milligrams of
mercury, about the size of the tip of a
ball-point pen. A typical body temperature
thermometer contains around 0.5 grams1
of mercury – that’s over 100 times more
than a CFL!
FAct: cFLs are a more environmentally-
friendly option than old-style light bulbs
Despite the presence of mercury, energy
saving lamps are still the environmentally
Mercury vapour from the burning of fossil
fuels is the largest source of environmental
and human mercury contamination.
Widespread use of CFLs reduces energy
consumption, and can therefore reduce
mercury released into the atmosphere.
FAct: they’re low-risk, even if broken
Although mercury is a toxin, the small
amount in a single CFL should not put you
at risk, even if it’s broken – just follow the
Ministry for the Environment’s guidelines
on their website for safe clean-up.
FAct: there are ways to dispose of them safely
The Ministry for the Environment is working
with the lighting industry to develop further
initiatives around safe disposal or recycling.
Ask your local electrical contractor or
lighting supplier if they provide a drop-off
service for CFLs. Alternatively, ask your
local council if they operate a drop-off
service, such as an annual hazardous waste
collection. Not all areas will have a service.
A final option is to wrap it in newspaper
and dispose with your household rubbish.
For more information on clean up
and disposal of cFLs see the Ministry
for the Environment’s website at
Light bulbs that use
less energy: a covered
cFL (LEFt) and a new
Both are efficient.
FAct: Old-style light bulbs are really inefficient
Only 5% of the energy used in a traditional
incandescent light bulb makes light – the other
95% just makes heat.
FAct: Old-style light bul