The official website for Al Gore's Inconvenient Truth movie promotes CFL light bulbs, all types of which contain small amounts of mercury. When a bulb breaks it can release that dangerous element into the home and perhaps even lead to soil or water pollution.
Replace a regular incandescent light bulb with a compact fluorescent light bulb (cfl)
CFLs use 60% less energy than a regular bulb. This simple switch will save about 300 pounds of carbon dioxide a year. If every family in the U.S. made the switch, we’d reduce carbon dioxide by more than 90 billion pounds! You can purchase CFLs online from the Energy Federation.
Turning to that "Federation":
All fluorescent lamps contain a small amount of mercury, generally about 5 milligrams or less. These compact fluorescent lamps all contain 2 milligrams of mercury or less, making them particularly environmentally responsible relative to conventional compact florescents. Every fluorescent light bulb however, regardless of mercury content, should still be recycled at the end of its life, and not disposed of with other trash.
Indeed. And, what happens if you accidentally break one? The state of Maine has compiled a helpful guide. Unfortunately, it's in a 150+ page PDF file (link) listing all the disposal hazards of the bulbs, suggesting that people not vacuum up broken bulbs to avoid the mercury being vaporized, suggesting that the safest way to dispose of the glass shards be placed in a glass jar with a rubber seal, and on and on. And, they also go into the amount of mercury vapor expelled into the atmosphere when one breaks, which apparently can be "over 300 times the accepted level of the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)" (link).
Fri, 01/09/2009 - 11:34 · Importance: 4