Tag Archives: cfl cleanup

Will your insurance pay for compact fluorescent light bulb mercury cleanup?

Compact fluorescent light bulbs contain mercury, a dangerous neurotoxin. The amount of mercury is large enough that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has published instructions on how to safely clean up a broken CFL bulb.

Russell Longcore writes at BestArticle.com:

If you break a CFL bulb, you’ll likely find that the proper cleanup could be very costly. And you’ll likely find that there is NO COVERAGE in your property insurance policy. Most policies have environmental cleanup exclusions. Even if your home is damaged by a tornado, hurricane or fire, the broken bulbs could cause you to incur thousands of dollars in environmental cleanup costs that your insurance policy will EXCLUDE.

If you have to clean up after even one broken CFL bulb, the cleanup costs will probably exceed a lifetime of the promised energy savings from using these dangerous contraptions.

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Dangerous misinformation about mercury in compact fluorescent light bulbs

Proponents of compact fluorescent light bulbs often play down the fact that these light bulbs contain mercury, a dangerous neurotoxin.  For example, Cindi Hinton dishes out this nonsense on Examiner.com:

They only contain 1.4 to 4 milligrams of mercury. That’s about the amount that would cover the tip of a ballpoint pen.

The amount of mercury that would cover the tip of a ballpoint pen is enough to pollute 6,000 gallons of water beyond safe levels for drinking, according to LightBulbRecycling.com.  The Environmental Protection Agency thinks these light bulbs are so dangerous that they have issued guidance on “What to Do if a Fluorescent or Other Mercury-Containing Light Bulb Breaks.“

The EPA has also issued guidance on “What Never to Do with a Mercury Spill.”  One of their instructions is “Never use a broom to clean up mercury. It will break the mercury into smaller droplets and spread them.”  But what does Cindi Hinton say you should do if you have a CFL light bulb that breaks?

…gently sweep broken pieces into a jar.

Ms. Hinton should be ashamed of herself.  Let’s hope her readers don’t follow her advice.

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A good idea followed by a bad one

Richard Kaplan, the mayor of Lauderhill, Florida, had what he thought was a good idea to reduce his city’s lighting bill.  A story in the Sun Sentinel explains the idea:

why not use federal stimulus dollars to pay for swapping out bulbs in the roadside fixtures for more energy-efficient units?

By using state-of-the-art LEDs, or light-emitting diodes, Kaplan estimated his municipality could save 40 to 60 percent on its street-lighting bill, which is expected to reach $420,000 next year.

Sounds good, right?

But there was one problem. Even if the city reduced its electric consumption, Florida Power & Light Co. wouldn’t lower the bill. The city would still have to pay a statewide per-pole rate set by the utility and approved by regulators.

There is no break granted for LED lights and FPL has no immediate plan to institute one.

So Mayor Kaplan did the logical thing:

At this point, the mayor has abandoned plans to use any of the city’s $595,200 in federal energy stimulus funds for new streetlights.

“It won’t serve any real purpose until FPL changes its rules,” said Kaplan.

Unfortunately, Mayor Kaplan’s next idea for spending the city’s stimulus money wasn’t so good:

Kaplan said the city will use the money for other green projects, including handing out 10,000 of another type of energy-saving bulbs — compact fluorescent lights, or CFLs — to residents.

Each of those 10,000 compact fluorescent light bulbs contains mercury, a dangerous pollutant.  Let’s hope Mayor Kaplan saved some of Lauderhill’s stimulus money to pay for mercury clean-up at the city’s landfill.

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Canada is wising up to the dangers of compact fluorescent light bulbs

In the Vancouver Sun, Bronwyn Eyre explains:

Nothing better illustrates an instance of the cure being worse than the disease than our rush to buy mercury-containing, compact fluorescent light bulbs. Demonizing the traditional light bulb as energy inefficient, we’re embracing a product that apparently has truly lethal dangers.

Aside from the fact these bulbs apparently don’t last anywhere near the 10 years they’re supposed to, if one breaks in your house, you should, according to Health Canada: Ventilate the room for at least 15 minutes, use tape instead of a vacuum or broom lest you spread contamination, wear disposable gloves during cleanup, place broken material in a sealed glass container and remove rugs, making sure not to place them in the household trash. Maybe a call to the hazmat guys would not be far-fetched.

The conclusion:  “clearly, incandescent light bulbs are safer than compact fluorescent ones.”

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