Light bulbs create pollution when mercury from disposed light bulbs enter the environment. Light bulbs in landfills create 30,000 pounds of mercury waste every year. Light bulbs should be recycled properly to avoid mercury pollution.
Mercury is in fluorescent light bulbs, including compact fluorescents, but not usually in conventional incandescent light bulbs.
Some of the potential pollution related to conventional light bulbs includes:
Mining-related (silica for glass, copper/zinc etc for metal base, tungsten etc for filament)
Manufacture and processing related – extraction of argon from air to fill the bulb, energy to melt silica, copper, etc to create the bulb; packaging (plastic, paper, printing, inks, etc), transporting to retail outlets, etc.
Electricity related (US – coal = about 44% of electricity, natural gas = 20%, nuclear (using mined uranium that is mostly imported) = 20%)
Disposal related – discarded bulbs in landfills or elsewhere
Most man-made objects have a similar cradle-to-grave footprint (plus or minus the electricity, depending on whether it is an electronic gadget or something like a stainless steel knife).
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