Tag Archives: mercury

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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Minnesota faces a huge mercury pollution problem from CFL bulbs

Mercury-laden compact fluorescent light bulbs will overwhelm recycling programs in Minnesota, according to Dave Dempsey at CleanTechnica.com:

A surge in the number of mercury-bearing energy-efficient light bulbs in use in Minnesota is expected to overwhelm recycling programs in the next few years and there’s no plan yet on how to recycle more of them…

The number of recycled compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) available for recycling in the state is expected to rise from 346,000 in 2008 to 2,419.000 in 2011 as federal and state energy efficiency mandates kick in. Minnesota’s 2008 CFL recycling rate was one of the highest among the states at an estimated 37%, and much of the Gopher State has nearby recycling options.

But many of the state’s consumers aren’t aware that CFLs need to be recycled to contain the mercury. While 73.1% of the state’s households use at least one CFL, only 39% of respondents to a survey knew that recycling of the bulbs is required by Minnesota law.

Local household hazardous waste (HHW) collection programs receive the majority of Minnesota’s recycled CFLs, with home improvement and hardware stores taking back the bulk of the rest. Because most of the local HHW programs are largely funded by county taxes, it’s unclear whether or how funding to expand them will be made available.

If the state’s recycling rate doesn’t improve, Minnesotans will soon be throwing over 1,500,000 CFL bulbs in the trash every year.  That’s enough mercury to pollute 1,000,000 gallons of water beyond safe drinking levels every year in each of Minnesota’s 10,000 lakes.

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Beware Britain’s light bulb snoops

The public have been asked to ‘snoop’ on shopkeepers who continue to sell traditional light bulbs banned by Europe,” reports the Telegraph:

From September 1, it will be illegal to import conventional pearl or frosted bulbs of any shape or wattage. Traditional incandescent bulbs of 100 watts will also be banned under European law aimed at reducing energy bills and carbon dioxide emissions.

They will be replaced by energy saving lights, which usually use flourescent tubes, but it is thought some consumers will still prefer their ‘traditional’ bulbs, particularly for reading lamps.

There is evidence of people hoarding the old fashioned bulbs around Europe and enforcement agencies are ready to crack down on unscrupulous businessmen who continue to import the “illegal bulbs” from factories in China.

In Britain, Trading Standards officers will be carrying out inspections and members of the public will be able to report any shop continuing to stock the illegal bulbs.

Any individual found importing the bulbs into the EU will face a £5,000 fine and it could be an unlimited amount for big companies.

If traditional incandescent light bulbs remain so popular, why are they being banned?

The Department for the Environment insisted it was necessary to use the law to ensure people buy energy efficient bulbs that will save them around £37 per annum on energy bills and save the UK one million tonnes of carbon every year.

Why is it “necessary to use the law” to force people to buy energy efficient light bulbs?  If the claims about these light bulbs were true, wouldn’t people buy them voluntarily?  Maybe the people in the UK have wised up to the fact that compact fluorescent light bulbs contain mercury, a hazardous substance that can damage human health and the earth’s environment.  Or maybe UK lawmakers think they’re smarter than the rest of the people in the UK.

If you live in the UK, send your used compact fluorescent light bulbs to Parliament in London, or to EU headquarters in Brussels.

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CFL light bulbs are making a terrible mercury pollution problem even worse

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.

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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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Compact fluorescent light bulbs don’t reduce pollution

Fans of compact fluorescent light bulbs try to shrug off the fact that these dangerous bulbs contain mercury, a substance that’s very hazardous to our health and our environment.  They say that power plants generate mercury, so producing less power means they produce less mercury.

But just about all the compact fluorescent light bulbs used in the United States are produced in China.  So, at best, people who use compact fluorescent light bulbs are trading pollution in the United States for pollution in China.

DavidLaibsonEditorialCartoon

And let’s not forget that the mercury thrown away in compact fluorescent light bulbs each year is enough to pollute nearly every lake, pond, river and stream in North America.

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Why send used CFL light bulbs to Washington?

Why should you send your used compact fluorescent light bulbs to Washington?  Because Washington is forcing you to use these dangerous and inferior bulbs.

An editorial in the New Haven Register explains:

The bulb that has lighted American homes for more than 100 years faces possible extinction in three years thanks to energy-efficiency standards set by Congress in 2007…. Congress has decided Americans should use fluorescent lights, which are more efficient.

Compact fluorescent lights have a number of drawbacks. A major one is that they cost far more than incandescent bulbs. And, they are slow to light, can’t fit in some lamps because of their size, give off less light than a comparable incandescent bulb and produce a cold, unflattering light. On top of all that, fluorescent lights contain mercury, so they should be treated as hazardous waste when thrown out.

If Congress is smart enough to tell you what kind of light bulbs to use, then Congress is smart enough to dispose of your used and broken CFL light bulbs.  Send your light bulbs to Washington.

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