Posted by: al66888 | May 31, 2007

CFLs- Good or Bad for you?

As the government looks into ways to reduce energy and CO2 emissions, there is a new wave of attempts to remove or phase out the incandescent light bulb.  Incandescents are now being replaced by fluorescent, and the newest generation CFLs (compact fluorescent lights).  Everyone has probably seen them, even if you don’t recognize the name.  The are the light bulbs that have are twisted instead of the traditional bulb shape. 

Now on one hand, the EPA is pushing these as a terrific energy reducer.   However, they are while touting the upsides, they are neglecting to inform the public of the downsides, and the potential costs and dangers.  Apparently, you cannot dispose of these bulbs in your regular trash can.  They need to be taken to recycling centers and disposed off like oil found around the home.  And that may be the least of our concerns as these bulbs contain Mercury. And though each individual bulb contains very little, the mass production of these bulbs could cause huge problems and huge costs to dispose.

When sufficient mercury accumulates in a landfill, it can be emitted into the air and water in the form of vaporous methyl-mercury. From there, it can easily get into the food chain

And it’s just as dangerous in your home. Even though it’s a small amount, it can be potentially hazardous. So much so, the EPA has disposal recommendations for such bulbs.

This is from the EPA Website:

Fluorescent light bulbs contain a very small amount of mercury sealed within the glass tubing. EPA recommends the following clean-up and disposal guidelines:

  1. Open a window and leave the room (restrict access) for at least 15 minutes.
  2. Remove all materials you can without using a vacuum cleaner.
  3. Wear disposable rubber gloves, if available (do not use your bare hands). Carefully scoop up the fragments and powder with stiff paper or cardboard.
  4. Wipe the area clean with a damp paper towel or disposable wet wipe. Sticky tape (such as duct tape) can be used to pick up small pieces and powder.
  5. Place all cleanup materials in a plastic bag and seal it.
  6. If your state permits you to put used or broken fluorescent light bulbs in the garbage, seal the bulb in two plastic bags and put into the outside trash (if no other disposal or recycling options are available).
  7. Wash your hands after disposing of the bag.
  8. The first time you vacuum the area where the bulb was broken, remove the vacuum bag once done cleaning the area (or empty and wipe the canister) and put the bag and/or vacuum debris, as well as the cleaning materials, in two sealed plastic bags in the outdoor trash or protected outdoor location for normal disposal.

Is it me, or is this a little scary?  Evacuate for 15 minutes?  God help you if you have a small child that breaks one of these things, you could be in for serious trouble.

View the full article here



  1. Here’s an update to some of the things that I wrote about the other day. Take a look at the cleanup mess for this poor woman in Ellsworth, Maine. Her cleanup costs for breaking 1 bulb? Over $2000. Don’t waste your money on these things.

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