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Switching from incandescent light bulbs to compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) is an effective way to reduce energy use in your residence hall or office, and prevent greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global climate change. ENERGY STAR qualified CFLs use up to 75 percent less energy than incandescent light bulbs and last up to 10 times longer.
CFLs do contain a small amount of mercury sealed within the glass tubing (an average of 5 milligrams), about the amount that would cover the tip of a ballpoint pen. By comparison, older thermometers contain about 500 milligrams of mercury. It would take 100 CFLs to equal that amount. Mercury currently is an essential component of CFLs and is what allows the bulb to be an efficient light source. No mercury is released when the bulbs are intact or in use.
CFLs are made of glass and can break if dropped or roughly handled. Be careful when removing the bulb from its packaging, installing it, or replacing it. Always use caution and never forcefully twist the CFL into a light socket.
Hampshire College recycles CFLs. Students should bring used CFLs to their area office and place in the padded envelopes provided. The area office will call facilities and grounds (ext. 5431) for pickup. Faculty and staff should contact environmental health and safety (ext. 6620) for pickup of their used CFLs.
Source: The USEPA Energy Star Program "Information on Compact Fluorscent Light Bulbs (CFLs) and Mercury" - August 2007