Monday, August 13, 2007

Compact Fluorescent Lights

I think most people have heard of the energy saving benefits of using compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFL's), but did you know the mercury in them is highly toxic. Mercury is the second most toxic naturally occurring substance on earth (Plutonium is the most toxic). If you break a CFL bulb here is what to do:

* Open a window and leave the room for at least 15 minutes
* Remove as much as you can without using the vacuum, wear rubber gloves, scoop up what you can with stiff paper or cardboard, use sticky tape to pick up the remaining small pieces and powder, wipe area clean with damp paper towel and seal all the cleanup materials in a plastic bag.
* Dispose of the bag in your outdoor trash receptacle (unless your state doesn't allow you to put CFL's in the trash...CA, WI, OH, MN, IL, IN, MI).
* Vacuum the area and dispose of the vacuum bag.
- EPA Guidelines

I have to say that when I read this it freaked me out. Thank goodness I've never broken a CFL bulb. We currently have about 30 CFL bulbs in our house so at some point we're likely to break one. I'm still in favor of the energy saving benefits of the CFL's, but I think it's a shame this information about cleaning up from a broken CFL isn't widely known. As for what the bulbs can do to the environment once placed in your outdoor trash barrel....I don't know what to say about that. I checked into recycling these bulbs, but it's pricey and only makes sense if you go through a large number of bulbs within a year....not the case for the average household. I'm guessing it's geared towards businesses.

1 comment:

Anna said...

I read that you're not supposed to throw those away in the trash. If your state allows you to put them in the trash, they should be placed in two plastic bags...kind of kills the "green".

Did you ever play with mercury? Maybe that's why I'm a little off.