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POSITION PAPER ON CFLs
(Compact Fluorescent Lights)
Adopted by Wisconsin Interfaith Climate & Energy Campaign (WICEC)

February 22, 2009

WICEC strongly encourages the use of energy efficient devices. We especially encourage the use of Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs or Tubes, even though they have some mercury.

To best explain our position, permit us to use this article from the Union of Concerned Scientist’s newsletter - EARTHWISE - Vol. 9 No. 2 - Spring 2007

It asks: “How can compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) be “environmentally friendly” if they contain mercury?”

Then it answers: “CFLs consume about 75 percent less electricity than incandescent light bulbs, and therefore can reduce energy demand - and harmful emissions - from power plants. If every American household replaced just one incandescent light bulb with a CFL, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that we would reduce global warming emissions equal to taking nearly 8,000,000 cars off the road. The lower energy demand of CFLs also translates into lower electricity costs for consumers.

One drawback to CFLs is that they use a small amount of mercury (about five milligrams) to generate light. However, this pales in comparison with the amount produced by the largest source of U.S. mercury emission: the coal-burning power plants that produce 52 percent of our nation’s power. For example, the average existing coal-fired power plant emits 13.6 milligrams of mercury to power a typical incandescent bulb, but only 3.3 milligrams for a CFL. The reduction in mercury emissions achieved by burning less coal exceeds the five milligrams of mercury inside a CFL. [By a factor of better than 4 to 1]

And unlike coal-fired power plants, which emit mercury directly into the atmosphere (where it most affects our health), the mercury in CFLs can be contained as long as you dispose of them properly. (All fluorescent bulbs are considered hazardous waste and should be handled according to local regulations.)

To learn more about energy-efficient lighting, visit the Energy Star website at www.energystar.gov

[If your locality does not have a proper disposal site, then, as a concerned citizen, you should contact your waste management officials, your nearest U.W. - Extension experts, County Administrator, City Mayor, Village President, Township Administrator, etc. Use the above article and see that a program is started in your community. Mercury MUST be kept out of landfills and out of lakes and streams where it begins its toxic journey into our bodies.]

 


 

 

 

 
Dr. Peter Bakken, Executive Coordinator
Wisconsin Interfaith Power and Light
750 Windsor Street - Suite # 301
Sun Prairie, WI 53590-2149
PH: (608) 837- 3108
(c/o Wisconsin Council of Churches)
info@WisconsinIPL.org
http://www.WisconsinIPL.org
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