The Dangers of Those Energy-Saving Light Bulbs
Itâs listed as the top thing you can do by Al Goreâs Web site on climate change to reduce your carbon impact at home â replacing a regular incandescent light bulb with a compact fluorescent light bulb (CFL).
But Gore doesnât warn you about what could happen if you improperly dispose of them or even accidentally break one. The Washington Postâs Eco Wise columnist Eviana Hartman reminded readers, âthey contain a small amount of mercury, a potent neurotoxin.â
âIf you toss the bulbs in the trash, they're likely to break, potentially exposing workers to mercury or releasing it into groundwater and soil from landfills,â Hartman wrote in the October 7 Washington Post.
Hartman reported each CFL contains 5 mg of mercury. That doesnât sound like a lot, but consider what happened to Brandy Bridges of Prospect, Maine when a CFL broke in her daughterâs bedroom.
âOne broke,â Joseph Farah wrote in an April 16 WorldNetDaily story. âA month later, her daughter's bedroom remains sealed off with plastic like the site of a hazardous materials accident, while Bridges works on a way to pay off a $2,000 estimate by a company specializing in environmentally sound cleanups of the mercury inside the bulb.â
Hartman encouraged readers to recycle their dead CFLs or call for a âhazardous waste pickup.â She also gave tips for cleaning up CFLs if they break. However, the April 2 Waste News, a trade publication that focuses on issues pertaining to waste products and the environment, reported there has been little discussion about the environmental hazards because of the hype surrounding global warming hysteria:
âBut warning consumers that they have to dispose of compact fluorescents with care may not be in the best interest of those trying to sell them, she [Ann Moore, recycling coordinator for
âYou probably donât want to do that because youâd hate to wreck the momentum,â
Another story about the dangers of CFLs and the lack of warning provided by the manufacturers was reported in the April 14 issue of The (
âEverybody is throwing all this mercury into the garbage. No one knows this. This should be in bold print on the packaging,â Elizabeth Doermann said to The Tennessean after she broke a CFL and vacuumed it up, spreading the mercury contaminants throughout her home.
âShe held a new package of the lights from which she had learned about the mercury, only after putting on glasses to read the little print. This was after the vacuuming incident,â Anne Paine of The Tennessean wrote. âA square, dwarfed by the bar code, contained the phrases âMercuryâ and âManage in accordance with Disposal Laws,â a phone number and a Web address. It did not say that used bulbs should be treated as household hazardous waste.â