What's Inside My Compact Fluorescent Lamp?

Every Friday I pick a random product on Instagram, I disassemble it, examine it and make a stop motion story with its parts. Every week the result is completely different and unexpected.

Here I share how it all comes about!

Since it was earth day/hour last week I went for a bulb, a compact fluorescent lamp to be exact. I read somewhere before that these bulbs have Mercury gas inside, so before opening anything I did a bit of research on how to avoid getting poisoned. Curiosity did kill a cat, and I didn’t want to be next.

Don’t worry if you accidentally break one, the gas inside is very very little, just make sure not to breathe or vacuum anything, it just makes things worse. The more I read about this lamp the more the film ‘The light bulb conspiracy’ kept playing in my head!

How the bulbs are made. And how the bulbs work.

I know that some resources (like mercury gas) are harmful, yet are very useful if used properly, take for example the mercury thermometer, definitely was very useful, but now that there is an alternative, it’s advised not to keep one anymore. It’s even banned in some places in the US!

Here is the thing, having such ‘bans’ and regulations makes using such components somehow acceptable, Compared to countries like mine, Egypt, which receives the lowest grades of bulbs from China and has absolutely no regulations or precautions what so ever! We discard anything anywhere, we don’t separate our waste in Egypt. I can’t imagine the amount of mercury that we must have in the air here!

For an example, there are manual production lines in India for these bulbs! What are the precautions taken when adding the Mercury gas here?! Same thing comes to mind about recycling in Egypt. Garbage collectors turned their homes into wasting sorting yards and plastic recycling factories. They sacrificed their health to be able to support their families financially, without receiving any support from the government or the people, the support that they need, and earned! It’s what saddens me the most.

The ugly part is; what usually stops working in these lamps are the capacitors on the PCB, sometimes the electrodes get burnt, but most of the time it’s the capacitors. If you just change the capacitor the bulb would work again and you wont have to buy a whole new bulb. Not to mention worry about discarding the tube filled with toxic gas!

Less tubes manufactured and less tubes wasted. But not how the real world operates.

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