LEDs offer the best energy efficiency of any widely available lighting technology. And LED lights contain no mercury, as opposed to the compact fluorescent bulbs that have become so common. But recent reports suggest that LEDs may have their own issues with hazardous substances, so should you steer clear of them? Not so fast – LEDs are still a great choice for energy efficient, eco-friendly lighting.
Although a recent study from two University of California research teams did find surprising levels of potentially dangerous substances (primarily lead) in some LED lights, the problems are focused primarily on holiday light strands. LED bulbs may also contain low levels of these substances too, but they are durable and unlikely to break (an important point, since breakage is the only way that the chemicals would be released in a household setting).
Furthermore, the overall environmental impact of any chemicals contained in LED light bulbs is more than offset by their energy efficiency. The electricity saved by using LED lighting eliminates far more toxic pollution from power plants than is contained inside a bulb.
So all in all, you should continue to feel good about making the switch to LED lighting. Just make sure that (as with any electronic products) you dispose of them properly when they reach the end of their life cycles.