Here’s some unsettling news from South Africa, via Independent Online:
Each compact flurorescent lightbulb (CFL) contains between 5mg and 30mg of highly toxic mercury which makes them an environmental hazard when they are dumped. Currently there is no recycling plant for CFLs in South Africa, where about 20 million of the bulbs have been installed nationally.
South Africans should send their used compact fluorescent light bulbs to Cape Town (their legislative capital) or Pretoria (their executive capital). I’m sure there are experts there who will know what to do.
If you go to South Africa, don’t drink the water!
“Take extra care when using new globes” is the warning issued by the Daily Dispatch in South Africa:
COMPACT fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) are generally welcomed as a more efficient alternative to incandescent bulbs – but environmentalists and health experts are now concerned about their long- term impact.
While the bulbs are extremely energy efficient, they contain mercury, a neurotoxin that can cause kidney and brain damage.
The amount in each CFL is only about 5mg – or just enough to cover the tip of a pen – but that is enough to contaminate about 30,000 litres of water beyond the safety limits set by international research.
And, says Berry Everitt, CEO of the Chas Everitt International property group, what really concerns environmentalists is the possible cumulative effect on water resources when increasing numbers of CFLs are dumped and the tubes are shattered, releasing the mercury to the environment.
“On the other hand, accidental breakage of globes in homes and workplaces is what concerns health experts, who warn that mercury contamination of a home or office should be cleared by experts to prevent mercury becoming a health hazard to residents or workers.”
Meanwhile, even intact CFLs could cause misery for people who have light-sensitive skin disorders, medical experts have warned. People with skin conditions such as lupus, eczema and psoriasis have reported that CFLs cause painful rashes, swelling and a burning sensation on their skin.
The increased use of compact fluorescent light bulbs — encouraged or mandated by government in many countries — is fast becoming a global health and environmental disaster.