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.
An Associated Press story about mercury pollution in the United States has this shocking news:
No fish can escape mercury pollution. That’s the take-home message from a federal study of mercury contamination released Wednesday that tested fish from nearly 300 streams across the country.
The toxic substance was found in every fish sampled, a finding that underscores how widespread mercury pollution has become.
Why should we care? Here’s why:
Mercury consumed by eating fish can damage the nervous system and cause learning disabilities in developing fetuses and young children.
Mercury is one of the most toxic substances on earth. One in six American children have been exposed to mercury levels so high that they are potentially at risk for learning disabilities, motor skill impairment, and short-term memory loss.
Compact fluorescent light bulbs are the fasting-growing source of mercury pollution in the United States. The mercury from one CFL bulb can pollute 6,000 gallons of water beyond safe levels for drinking. Each year, an estimated 600 million fluorescent lamps are disposed of in U.S. landfills, amounting to 30,000 pounds of mercury waste. Only 2% of compact fluorescent light bulbs are recycled.
Growing use of mercury-containing compact fluorescent light bulbs, which is being caused by Washington’s ban of incandescent light bulbs, will make this already terrible situation even worse. Show your government how much you appreciate its meddling by sending your used compact fluorescent light bulbs to Washington. They’re the experts. They’ll know what to do with them.
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.
Awareness of the dangers from compact fluorescent light bulbs isn’t what it should be. How should people dispose of these dangerous light bulbs? This issue recently came before a committee of the Aiken County Council in South Carolina, according to a story in today’s August Chronicle:
The county has never had a formal procedure or policy concerning the bulbs, but County Administrator Clay Killian said the bulbs can be safely placed in a landfill or household trash, as long as one precaution is taken.
“They suggest, they being DHEC (the Department of Health and Environmental Control) and the people still writing the rules, you should put them in a plastic bag before you put it in your trash,” he said.
Such disposal, he said, is allowed because the bulbs are considered household hazardous waste, adding that “due to its low volume they can be disposed of in the landfill and regular trash.”
But the mercury from one compact fluorescent light bulb can pollute 6,000 gallons of water beyond safe levels for drinking. As a nation, we’re already putting 600 million compact fluorescent light bulbs into our landfills every year. That’s enough mercury to pollute 3.6 trillion gallons of water.
We really don’t need the fine citizens of Aiken County, or anybody else, adding to this problem. By all means put your used compact fluorescent light bulb in a plastic bag. But don’t put it in your trash. Put it in a small box and mail it to your Congressman or Senator in Washington. Congress is forcing us to buy these dangerous light bulbs. Let Congress handle disposing of them. They’re the experts. They’ll know what to do.