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Compact Fluorescent Lights (aka CFLs)

October 22, 2007 at 11:06 am
By Eliza Berry
Compact Fluorescent Float

The college gives away Compact Fluorescent Lights, so why not limit the amount of energy you use in your dorm room by simply installing them in your desk lamp?

Having recognized the major energy savings of using Compact Fluorescent Lighting (CFLs) (they use about a quarter of the energy used by traditional incandescent bulbs), the college has put CFLs in most light fixtures around campus (including dorm rooms) in the last few years. Because the college cannot control the type of bulbs students use in their personal lamps, Facilities simply gives CFLs to students for free. Call Facilities at x 4133.

And, make the switch soon. There is no need to wait until the incandescent bulb in your desk lamp burns out. Simply throw your incandescent light bulb in the trash. The sooner you make the switch, the sooner you’ll start saving energy. Currently, Facilities distributes the equivalent of 60 and 100 watt incandescent bulbs (used by most lamps) CFLs to students.

As a CFL user, there are a few things you should know. While naturally CFL use minimizes the amount of the pollutants (including mercury) pumped out of power plants, the CFLs themselves do contain trace amounts of mercury. While not a huge safety hazard, there are certain precautions you can take in the event that a CFL breaks or if you would simply like to get rid of them once they burn out.

If your CFL breaks, the some of the mercury may evaporate into the air and disappear—you can speed along this process by opening a window. The remainder of the mercury will likely remain stuck in the bulb. Instead of using a vacuum, collect the broken shards with a paper towel and then seal the pieces of broken bulb and the paper towel in a plastic bag. Students can then contact facilities (x4133) to ask them to properly dispose of the plastic bag and its contents.

If your CFL burns out (an infrequent occurrence since CFLs generally last for years) it should not go in either regular trash or recycling. Instead, place it in the recycling bin designated specifically for CFLs that will soon be located in Sayles.

For more information on the advantages of CFLs, which kind to buy and CFL safety, check out this page at the Environmental Defense Fund Website


  • October 24 2007 at 10:18 am

    Wow, the ED site is a really great resource

  • January 22 2008 at 10:40 am
    Jason Petty recently got this press release concerning mercury content in CFL's. We thought this could be of interest to your readers.


    Use even less mercury with MaxLite’s™ low mercury compact fluorescent lamps. Reinforcing its goal of producing the lowest mercury CFLs, MaxLite™ was one of the first in the industry to participate in the National Electrical Manufacturer’s Association’s (NEMA) initiative, “Voluntary Commitment on Mercury in CFLs.” Participants in the program pledge to limit the mercury content of their self-ballasted CFLs (residential use only) with less than 25 watts to 5 mg. and those with 25-40 watts to 6 mg. per bulb. MaxLite™ CFLs utilize only 1.2 to 2.5mg of mercury per lamp; half the amount present on the tip of a ball point pen, as compared to typical CFLS containing 4 mg. of mercury.

    Always ahead of the curve, MaxLite™ has created a unique procedure to control the amount of liquid mercury in its compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs). In its burner production, MaxLite™ accuracy is achieved by the utilization of a sealed tool akin to a medical injection tube. This permits defined quantities of liquid mercury to enter it each time the fluid is drawn. Then the identical amount of liquid mercury is infused into the burner. One amalgam dice is placed into the mercury control of the amalgam lamps. The amount of mercury is also fixed as the amalgam dice’s weight is controlled by amalgam manufacturers.

    The low mercury quantity is the least amount MaxLite™ deems feasible for a compact fluorescent lamp to maintain a long and productive life.

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  • March 4 2009 at 1:08 pm
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