People are thinking greener and trying to conserve energy more now than ever. Energy-saving light bulbs are being pushed by power companies, eco-friendly organizations and the government. But studies have shown that even the small amount of mercury in compact fluorescent bulbs (CFL) can be harmful to human health. Exposure can lead to severe birth defects and other adverse health conditions. CFL's contain a very small amount of mercury but when broken they can release the compound and contaminate the area for a short time. Reducing the risk of exposure is important to all adults but especially pregnant women and children.
Low-mercury light bulbs are widely available. The amount of mercury in them is 70 percent less than the industry standard. They are also energy-efficient. However, the user still needs to dispose of them in accordance with Environmental Protection Agency regulations. Litetronics and Turtle are two reputable manufacturers of low-mercury bulbs.
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Electron Stimulated Luminescence
If any possible mercury contamination is still a concern, mercury-free bulbs are available. Electron Stimulated Luminescence is a new technology that is borrowing from the old. They work in much the same way that old bulbs did except they are more energy-efficient and produce a higher light. There is no free-floating gas of any kind inside these lights, which makes them safer to use.
Plasma lights use technology developed to operate plasma televisions and contain no mercury or free floating gas. They convert phosphors to light and can produce 30 lumens of light per watt. Eden Park is a start up company that is producing these and developing micro-plasma lights using the same technology. They are pricey but also energy-efficient.
Organic Light Emitting Diodes
Organic Light Emitting Diodes (OLED) are a technology borrowed from liquid crystal displays. The bulb is organic in operation, meaning it is basically two panels of phosphorescent diodes combined to release light. The process results in a superior white light that does not heat up the bulb and waste energy. The bulbs are also extremely long-lasting.