Facts and information

Facts and information

How does a Fluorescent Light works?

Light is produced by passing an electric current through the mercury vapor, which then generates ultraviolet energy. When this ultraviolet energy strikes the phosphorus coating both visible and ultraviolet light is emitted.

What is inside Fluorescent Lights?

A fluorescent light comprises of a glass tube with metal end-tops and metal cathodes that associate with an electrical light attachment. Inside the light is a blend of mercury phosphorus powder, vaporized mercury, and electric fibers. These segments are under a high vacuum. A solitary 4-foot light may contain from 5 to 50mg of mercury.

Why Fluorescent lamps are hazardous?

When lamps are sent to landfills, mercury vapors are released which can travel over 200 miles! The mercury contained in the phosphorus powder separates in the landfill and leaches into the earth and water supply. This combination of mercury phases when ingested or breathed into the human body is highly toxic to the human nervous system and particularly poisonous to the kidneys. Once absorbed by the body, mercury is distributed via our blood to all tissues of the body. It can easily cross the placental barrier and prenatal exposure can lead to a variety of health problems including a severe form of cerebral palsy.


  1. Each year, an estimated 600 million fluorescent lamps will be disposed of in municipal landfills amounting to 30,000 pounds of mercury waste.
  2. In the Chicagoland area, it is estimated that over 16 million lamps will be disposed of in local municipal landfills amounting to almost 1000 pounds(453,000 grams) of mercury to leach into our watersheds.
  3. It is estimated that as little as 15g of mercury can pollute an entire small lake.
  4. The EPA reports that 187 incinerators nationwide emit approximately 35 tons of mercury into the environment each year.
  5. In 1992, mercury-containing lamps were added to the USEPA’s list of hazardous substances. The EPA’s regulatory threshold of 2 mg/liter is usually exceeded by mercury containing lamps.
  6. Mercury was number three on the list of hazardous substances in 1997 as outlined by the Agency of Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) and the EPA.

We have all grown up with the fairytale of Alice in Wonderland. In the story, there is a character called the “Mad Hatter” who acted very crazy. Was the Mad Hatter based on a real life character or just a fictional character?
Actually, this is a real life situation and is even named the “Mad Hatter’s Disease”. As it turns out, many years ago, to secure the hat and band in place, hatters’ coated the hat band with mercury before putting them on the hat. The small amount of mercury they came in contact with over time caused many physical & psychological problems for the hatters’.