Can going green be hazardous to your health?
Energy efficient compact flourescent lightbulbs (CFL's) have mercury in them. The Environmental Protection Agency has put out specific procedures to be used when handling bulbs that have broken:
There are also concerns about them showing up in landfills... so one might be careful when disposing of them as well and here are the EPA guidelines for disposing of mercury containing lightbulbs.
NPR had a good piece about CFL's and their hazards. Aside from CFL's showing up in landfills, the article says that there are concerns that sanitation workers may be exposed to mercury if trash contains broken CFL bulbs.
the companies and federal government haven't come up with effective ways to get Americans to recycle them.In this recent article on MSNBC News - they state:
"The problem with the bulbs is that they'll break before they get to the landfill. They'll break in containers, or they'll break in a dumpster or they'll break in the trucks. Workers may be exposed to very high levels of mercury when that happens,"
The amount [of mercury in a CFL bulb] is tiny — about 5 milligrams, or barely enough to cover the tip of a pen — but that is enough to contaminate up to 6,000 gallons of water beyond safe drinking levels, extrapolated from Stanford University research on mercury. Even the latest lamps promoted as “low-mercury” can contaminate more than 1,000 gallons of water beyond safe levels.It will be interesting to see if mercury contamination of soil and water or in landfills rises in about 5-7 years when these CFL's start showing up in higher numbers in the trash and in our environment.
Sometimes technology gives us new problems as it attempts to solve current problems.
As for me, I'm sticking to incandescents and just being frugal with the light switch in general. I very rarely have to replace light bulbs in my house as it is.