A fluorescent light tube, or lamp, uses electricity to agitate mercury vapor in neon or argon gas. The result is plasma that generates short-wave UV light. As a result, the light causes the phosphor coating inside the lamp to glow; this process shows visible light. 

It’s noteworthy that a fluorescent light will convert electrical energy into light that you can use better than an incandescent lamp does.

Understanding Fluorescent Light Tubes

In general, the luminous efficacy of a fluorescent lighting system is about 50 to 100 lumens for every watt. That is about three times the efficiency of an incandescent bulb that had a similar light output. The efficacy of incandescent bulbs is 16 lumens for each watt. 

For the reasons listed above, fluorescent lamps cost more than incandescent bulbs. They need a ballast to regulate the electrical current throughout the lamp correctly. However, the lower energy charges will neutralize the higher upfront costs.

You can now find compact fluorescent lamps in the same sizes as other more popular incandescent light bulbs. They serve as an energy-saving alternative to cut down costs in homes and businesses. 

Most fluorescent lamps get categorized as hazardous waste because they have mercury inside. The United States EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) suggests that fluorescent lamps get segregated from regular waste for safe disposal. Other jurisdictions require safe recycling. 

Are There Any Disadvantages to Using a Fluorescent Light Tube?

Here are the downsides of using a fluorescent light tube:

Switching a Lamp On and Off

Because it takes a bit more energy to start a fluorescent lamp, it is more energy-efficient to turn off the fixture when not needed for several minutes. That is because the extra energy you need to start the lamp equals a few seconds of normal operation. If you’re out of the room for 15 minutes or less, just leave the light on. If you’re gone longer than this period, then turn it off.

Emitting Ultraviolet Light

When it comes to ultraviolet light, fluorescent lamps emit a small amount of it. Sitting under a fluorescent light for eight hours is the equivalent of spending one minute standing in the sun. However, if a person is photosensitive, UV radiation that emanates from a compact fluorescent lamp can worsen their symptoms.


At room temperature, fluorescent lamps operate optimally. When the temperature is lower or higher than room temperature, then the efficacy of the product decreases. If temperatures are below freezing, standard fluorescent lamps run the chance of not starting at all. Special lamps are highly serviceable outdoors in freezing temperatures.


Flickering is notable, especially in people with light sensitivity. Fluorescent lamps with magnetic ballasts will flicker at a frequency of 100 or 120 Hz. This may cause problems for people with epilepsy, autism, Lyme disease, vertigo, lupus, and chronic fatigue syndrome.


If a fluorescent lamp happens to get broken, there’s a possibility that a minuscule amount of mercury could contaminate the immediate area. Interestingly, 99 percent of the mercury can is in phosphor. This fact is particularly true in lamps that are on the verge of the end of their life. If not cleaned correctly, a broken fluorescent bulb may release mercury into the atmosphere.  

Why You Should Recycle Fluorescent Light Tubes

Because of the inherent danger of the mercury content in fluorescent lamps, it’s vital that old and unwanted fluorescent light tubes are treated as hazardous waste. If you’re an individual or a business using facilities making heavy use of fluorescent lamps on a large scale, it is essential that fluorescent light tubes are properly discarded and not tossed out with regular trash. 

To make correct light tube disposal as convenient as possible, Newtech Recycling is proud to offer recycling services throughout Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. For more information, reach out to us today!

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