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Facts About Light Bulbs

Updated April 17, 2017

The light bulb was first invented in the 1800s and changed the dynamics of human life by making an available light source convenient and safe for the masses. It is also responsible for much of the electrical infrastructure established throughout the world. During the late 1900s, environmental organisations first identified the components of light bulbs as a danger to water and soil. Though it now comes in many different forms, the light bulb still holds a place of prominence and importance within modern society.

Features

Light bulbs use different formats to produce the lighting effect. The traditional way a light bulb works is by sending electricity through a filament. Other types use electrically-reactive gases or chemicals. Modern light bulbs use a solid wire that extends through the whole bulb and is lit by an electrical charge.

Identification

There are a variety of different types of light bulbs including: incandescent, tube fluorescent, compact fluorescent, mercury vapour, metal halide, high-pressure sodium vapour, ultraviolet and LED lights.

History

Although there were at least 22 known individuals who designed and built light bulbs throughout the 1800s, most historians cite Joseph Wilson Swan and Thomas Edison with the overall invention. The reason for this is because they discovered a longer-lasting filament and implemented a more sustainable electrical source.

Misconceptions

Many lamps and light bulbs contain mercury, which is dangerous to the environment, especially water sources. In many states such as California, Indiana, Illinois, Minnesota and Ohio, a person caught disposing of these items in a landfill face stiff penalties and fines.

Significance

Each year, 600 million light bulbs are disposed of into landfills in the United States. This accounts for nearly 13608 Kilogram of mercury waste. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency lists light bulbs as the third most dangerous product used in homes.

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About the Author

Jason Chavis has been a professional freelance writer since 1998. He is the author of four books, two movies and a play as well as numerous articles for "Scientific American," The History Channel, City Pages and "The Onion." In 1996, Chavis won the award for "best science fiction/fantasy" from the River Valley Writer’s Conference.