15. Reading Skills Comprehension: COMPACT

By | June 17, 2019

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1. How many compact fluorescent lamps or CFLs illuminate your sweet home these days? Two Five Seven.

2. As you save money in monthly electricity bills and thank the CFLs, remember that those lamps hanging from your decorated walls and ceilings contain the poisonous metal mercury. Experts all over the world have warned that exposure to mercury spilling out of broken CFLs is enough to poison your home’s air and damage your family’s health or cause catastrophe to the environment when you throw those lamps.

3. The CFL drive gained prominence in the recent months when the NGO, Greenpeace, brought its ‘Ban the Bulb’ campaign to fight global warming. Greenpeace’s figures show that a whopping 12.5 crore incandescent bulbs are to be replaced with CFLs in Delhi alone. This astronomical figure has environmentalists worried.

4. “Each CFL contains around 5 milligrams of mercury. If all of Delhi’s bulbs get replaced with GIs tomorrow, you get a perilous amount of mercury in use at a time when all international authorities are trying to phase out this killer metal,” says environmentalist Ravi Agarwal.

5. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is pushing for a global phase-out of the poison. Professor Lars Hylander of Sweden’s Uppsala University, expressed worries about Delhi’s public health if 12.5 crore bulbs give way to CFLs.

6.”In Delhi, 12.5 crore CFLs will eventually mean at least 500 kg of mercury in the environment. If the lamps are inferior in quality, they contain more mercury. Without a functioning recycling scheme, most of this mercury will be released in the air when the lamps break or are discarded as household waste,” he says.

7. In the drive to reduce power bills, Delhi is travelling fast to that future. Power distribution companies are selling two CFLs for the price of one. BSES, the biggest discom, for instance, has sold 3.5 Iakh CFLs in five months. “CFLs not only reduce bills, but they also keep the overall power demand low,” says Rashmi Dewan, spokeswoman, BSES. The market is also flooded with cheap Chinese CFLs. Sellers say that the Chinese ones are extremely fragile.


8. The potential hazards to public health are too horrific to even imagine. Dr T.K. Joshi says, “CFLs break easily and when the mercury spills out, it contaminates the air.”

9. Secondly, he says spilt mercury from CFLs discarded at dump yards washes into drains and water bodies, causing massive damage. “Mercury affects the brain. Even pregnant women are at risk of passing on the ills,” says Dr Joshi.

10. Greenpeace, however, says that CFLs will reduce mercury emission into the environment. “The production of electricity from coal-based thermal power plants puts a significant amount of mercury into the atmosphere. CFLs will reduce the energy requirement and hence the mercury emission (from thermal power plants) will be reduced to 25 per cent.

11. The Indian lighting industry alone uses 56 tonnes of mercury every year for production. A total switch to producing only fluorescent lamps will take that figure up to 560 tonnes a year. The European Union has banned mercury in everything except lighting for want of an alternative. It has a policy where manufacturers take back used lamps for recycling. Dumping used CFLs as household wastes is a punishable offence.


Para 1. 1. Compact (adjective): designed to be small in size and economical in operations 2. Illuminate (verb): to light up

Para 2. 1. Decorated (adjective): adorned, ornamented 2. Exposure (noun): the state of being laid open to view 3. Catastrophe (noun): a great disaster

Para 3. 1. Prominence (noun): distinction, importance 2. Campaign (noun): movement 3. Whopping (adjective): extremely large 4. Astronomical (adjective): extremely large 5. Incandescent (adjective): glowing with heat

Para 4. 1. Perilous (adjective): dangerous 2. Phase-out (idiom): withdraw

 Para 6. 1. Eventually (adverb): at the end 2. Discarded (verb): to throw as useless 3. Inferior (adjective): of comparatively low grade

Para 7. 1. Instance (noun): example 2. Flooded with (verb): full of 3. Fragile (adjective): frail, easily broken 4. Drive (noun): a united effort to accomplish a specific purpose 5. discom (acronym): distribution company 6. Flooded (verb): filled in abundance 7. Fragile (adjective): which can be easily broken

 Para 8. 1. Potential (adjective): powerful, capable of coming into existence 2. Hazards (noun): dangers 3. Horrific (adjective): causing horror 4. Spills out (verb): scatters 5. Contaminates (verb): pollutes, infects

Para 9. 1. dump yards (noun): sites for depositing rubbish or waste 2. Massive (adjective): very big and extensive 3. Damage (noun): loss 4. Ills (noun): harmful effects/diseases

 Para 10. 1. Thermal power plant (noun): plant where heat energy is converted into electric power 2. emission (noun): discharge of something

 Para 11. 1. Banned (noun): prohibited 2. Alternative (noun): way out 3. Offence (noun): an illegal act


  1. Choose the correct option:

(a) Who has banned mercury in everything except CFLs?

(i) India                                    (ii) Russia

(iii) The European Union         (iv) China

 (b) Spilt mercury  ……………

 (i) purifies the air                   (ii) spreads flavour

(iii) suffocates                         (iv) contaminates the air

(c) How much mercury can be obtained from 12.5 crore CFLs?

(i) 500 kg                                 (ii) 500 g

(iii) 50 kg                                 (iv) 50 g

 (d) Which metal is poisonous?

 (i) Iron                                    (ii) Nickel

(iii) Mercury                            (iv) Silver

 (e) The phrase ‘passing on the ills’ suggests:

(i) to pass the misfortune       (ii) to transfer diseases

 (iii) to transfer                       (iv) to ignore the disease

 (f) Choose the correctly spelt word:

 (i) catastrophe           (ii) catastrophe

(iii) catastrophe          (iv) catastrophe

2.Answer the questions briefly:

(a) What do CFLs contain?

(b) What do thermal plants do?

(c) Why is Professor Lars Hylander worried about Delhi’s public health?

 (d) Why has the European Union banned mercury in everything except lighting?

(e) The market is flooded with CFLs. What does the word ‘flooded’ suggest?

(f) Why does the NGO Greenpeace promote CFLs?


1.(a) iii               (b) iv            (c) i           (d) iii            (e) ii            (f) i

2.(a) CFLs contain the metal mercury which is poisonous and harmful.

(b) Thermal plants emit mercury into the atmosphere which contaminates the air.

(c) Professor Lars Hylander is worried about Delhi’s public health because if 12.5 crore bulbs are changed to CFLs, there will be a dangerous amount of mercury in use at one time.

(d) Mercury is a Killer metal. If it spills out, it can poison the air, earth and water and cause deadly diseases. That is why the European Union has banned mercury in everything except lighting because there is no alternative to it.

(e) It means that the market is full of CFLs.

(f) Greenpeace promotes CFLs because it helps reduce mercury emission in the environment.

Download the above Passage in PDF Worksheet (Printable)

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