CFL Myth-Busters: Righting Seven Wrongs

Myth: CFLs contain high levels of mercury.
Reality: GE CFLs contain a very small amount of mercury – two milligrams on average, which is less than the tip of a ball-point pen. By comparison, older home thermometers contain 500 milligrams of mercury. It would take literally hundreds of bulbs to equal those amounts.
Myth: CFLs release mercury when they are in use.
Reality: No mercury is released when CFL bulbs are in use, and they pose no danger to you or your family when used properly.
Myth: If I break a bulb, I need a hazmat team to clean up my house.
Reality: Scientists from the Environmental Energy Technologies Division at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory found that the amount of mercury you are likely exposed to after breaking a bulb is equivalent to a bite of tuna. Even the most extreme CFL breakage scenario measured by these scientists was equivalent to eating just a single meal of fish. Do follow the simple clean-up steps recommended at
Myth: CFLs are too expensive to make a difference.
Reality: The cost of CFLs has decreased significantly in recent years as the bulbs have become more widely available. Some CFLs now cost less than $2 each when part of a multipack.
Myth: CFLs produce an unattractive blue light.
Reality: Today’s CFLs can produce a soft, white light in color ranges similar to incandescents. Look for Kelvin numbers on CFL packaging. Those with a 2,700 to 3,000 Kelvin (K) number emit a warmer, yellow color; those with a 3,500 K to 6,500 K number emit a bluer or whiter light.
Myth: CFLs flicker when they first light.
Reality: The flicker effect was most prevalent in older CFLs that used magnetic ballasts. Today’s CFLs use electronic ballasts, which operate at faster lighting frequencies to eliminate flickering.
Myth: CFLs are only available in a spiral shape, which is unattractive.
Reality: For consumers who dislike the traditional Spiral®- shaped CFL bulb, GE offers covered CFLs that mirror the shape of incandescent bulbs.