Cutting out the mercury in compact fluorescents

Sylvania says it only needs to put about one-third of the mercury in its fanciest CFLs.

Sylvania's micro-mini-energy saver compact fluorescent bulbs have a few novel things going for them, but one of the more interesting is that they hold far less mercury than most CFLs.

The bulbs contain only 1.5 milligrams of mercury. Most CFLs have about five, according to Stephanie Anderson, the company's chief corporate spokesperson. That comes because the mercury is encased in a metal sphere. Conventional CFLs deploy mercury in its natural liquid state. Granted, it's still a pain to get rid of a CFL, but less mercury means less toxins.

Anderson also points out that the bulbs are smaller than the usual CFL. As you can see in the picture, the tube begins to swirl as it comes out of the base. Most CFLs pop up on small legs before swirling. The 60-watt equivalent bulbs consume 13 watts.

Although CFL sales are climbing, the bulbs still only account for about 12 percent of bulb sales, she said. Amusing factoid from Anderson: the average American home has 50 electrical sockets.

The bulb in question Michael Kanellos

Tech Culture
About the author

    Michael Kanellos is editor at large at CNET, where he covers hardware, research and development, start-ups and the tech industry overseas.


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