Mercury is a poisonous metal. It affects the nervous system adversely after prolonged exposure to a significant concentration. However, minute amounts of mercury are necessary for efficient discharge lamps such as fluorescent lamps. The mercury is contained in the glass bulb of the lamp and can not escape into the environment unless the glass is damaged.
Handling broken lamps
The only time a consumer might be exposed to mercury is if the glass of a lamp is broken. In this case there are certain rules to follow in order to minimize the exposure.
To obtain the maximum environmental benefit from these energy saving lamps, LEDVANCE follows a multi-part strategy: the mercury contained in our lamps was reduced to the lowest technically necessary level, recycle lamps, and inform the public about mercury.
A fluorescent lamp consists of a glass tube, a gas filling, electrodes and a phosphor layer. Experiments have shown that the best choice for the gas filling is not a regular gas or a gas mixture, but mercury vapor.
Over the past few decades there has been intensive development work to achieve a drastic reduction in the amount of mercury used in fluorescent lamps. The mercury content in current LEDVANCE products has been restricted to the absolute minimum needed for correct operation.
Proper collection and recycling of lamps containing mercury is essential. In many countries lamps containing mercury are collected separately from normal household waste and recycled in a high-quality process. LEDVANCE is cooperating with other interested parties throughout the world on setting up further recycling systems and processes.
Mercury has moved into the public focus owing to the discussion on compact fluorescent lamps, which contain small amounts of mercury. Although it sounds paradox, using these lamps actually saves mercury.
Thanks to the progress of modern lighting technology there are also mercury-free alternatives to compact fluorescent lamps. A good example for this is the energy-efficient, innovative LED lamp. This lamp type is as energy-saving as compact fluorescent lamps, lights up instantly and has a longer lifetime. Another mercury-free alternative would be the halogen lamp. However, this lamp type is not as efficient as compact fluorescent or LED lamps and has a shorter lifetime.