During manufacturing and disposal, mercury could leak and cause damage to the general population
While everyone knows that new light bulbs save as much as 25 percent in electrical energy consumption and that they last about 10 times more than regular bulbs, not all realize the potential implications of switching from incandescent light to its fluorescent counterpart. Recent study results revealed by the Yale University show that, in some places, replacing one type of bulbs with the other may actually be harmful to the environment.
Overall, countries that are dependent on fossil fuels such as coal could benefit from removing the old power sources. Incandescent light bulbs generate an enormous amount of heat worldwide, and place an incredible strain on power plants to supply them with enough energy to work.
In theory, energy output from these plants could be reduced by about a quarter if all bulbs were to be replaced. This is especially true in countries like Estonia, Romania, China and the United States, where the dependence on fossil fuel is the highest. China, as the largest and most populated country in the world, would cut back on the huge quantities of mercury and carbon it produces as a by-product of its intense industrial activity.
However, in some specific areas of various countries, introducing fluorescent light and completely eliminating incandescent bulbs may have unwanted side effects. Contingent on several factors, such as how dependent the region is on coal-powered electrical energy or what chemicals the coal has in its composition, it stands to reason that mercury emissions could actually increase. For one, if there are no recycling plants in the region, the mercury produced while manufacturing and disposing of fluorescent light bulbs may infect the environment, and cause terrible problems in the long run, as the substance itself is very dangerous to humans.
Scientists at Yale say that the success of the new light technology is dependent on how well it's implemented at a small scale. In their opinion, governments shouldn't have enforced policies against incandescent light, but, instead, have left the decision up to local authorities, which are better qualified at establishing the risks and benefits of such a decision.