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Mercury use of compact fluorescent lamp vs. lvd lamps vs. incandescent lamp if powered by electricity generated completely from coal, though coal accounts for only about half of the power production in the United States.LVD lamps, CFLs (Compact Fluorescent Lamps), and all fluorescent lamps, contain small amounts of mercury and it is a concern for landfills and waste incinerators where the mercury from lamps is released and contributes to air and water pollution. In the U.S., lighting manufacturer members of the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) have voluntarily capped the amount of mercury used in CFLs.  Some manufacturers such as Philips, GE, TCP Inc. and Turolight make very low mercury content CFLs. In 2007, Turolight claimed its new Genesis Fusion line contained only 1mg of mercury, making it the lowest EnergyStar approved bulb in North America.
In areas powered by coal, CFLs end up marginally saving on mercury emissions versus incandescent bulbs, due to the offset power use (coal releases mercury as it is burned). This effect is irrelevant in areas not powered by coal, and applies only to old bulbs which have run long enough to become dim as the mercury adheres to the glass. In old bulbs, as little as 11% of the mercury may be released.
In areas powered by coal, LVD bulbs substantially save on mercury emissions versus incandescent bulbs and fluorescent bulbs, due to the longer bulbs life compares to fluorescent bulbs and offset power use (coal releases mercury as it is burned). This effect is irrelevant in areas not powered by coal, and applies only to old bulbs which have run long enough to become dim as the mercury adheres to the glass. In old bulbs, as little as 11% of the mercury may be released.
Broken and discarded lamps
Public adoption of CFLs has been slowed by one widely-circulated story of how the Maine Department of Environmental Resources detected mercury contamination following a residential CFL breakage incident, and the homeowner was presented with a US$2,000 estimate from an environmental cleanup firm.
Although initially dismissed as an overreaction, subsequent scientific studies by the Maine DEP and also Brown University in 2008 have confirmed that - contrary to earlier belief - the amount of mercury released by a broken CFL bulb greatly exceeds EPA safety standards.
Due to the combination of longer bulbs life, and increased efficiency, LVD bulbs can decrease overall mercury contamination by more than 90% compared to fluorescent bulbs.
Due to the increased efficiency, LVD bulbs can decrease overall mercury contamination by up 20% compared to incandesctn bulbs due to mercury emissions from the burning of coal for electrical power generation.
Spent lamps should be recycled to contain the small amount of mercury in each lamp, in preference to disposal in landfills. Only 3 percent of CFL bulbs are properly disposed of or recycled. In the European Union, CFLs are one of many products subject to the WEEE recycling scheme. The retail price includes an amount to pay for recycling, and manufacturers and importers have an obligation to collect and recycle CFLs. Safe disposal requires storing the bulbs unbroken until they can be processed. In the US, The Home Depot is the first retailer to make CFL recycling options widely available.
Special handling upon breakage is currently not printed on the packaging of household CFL bulbs in many countries. It is important to note that the amount of mercury released by one bulb can exceed U.S. federal guidelines for chronic exposure. Chronic however, implies that the exposure takes place over a long period of time. One time exposure to a trace amount of mercury is unlikely to be harmful. Conventional tubular fluorescent lamps have been used since 1938 with little concern about handling. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recommends that, in the absence of local guideline, fluorescent bulbs be double-bagged in plastic bags before disposal.
The first step of processing CFLs involves crushing the bulbs in a machine that uses negative pressure ventilation and a mercury-absorbing filter or cold trap to contain mercury vapor. Many municipalities are purchasing such machines. The crushed glass and metal is stored in drums, ready for shipping to recycling factories.
According to the Northwest Compact Fluorescent Lamp Recycling Project, because household users have the option of disposing of these products in the same way they dispose of other solid waste, "a large majority of household CFLs are going to municipal solid waste". They additionally note that an EPA report on mercury emissions from fluorescent tube lamp disposal indicates the percentage of total mercury released from the following disposal options: municipal waste landfill 3.2%, recycling 3%, municipal waste incineration 17.55% and hazardous waste disposal 0.2%.