I'm thankful a great friend has passed this article on to me. I had heard about the dangers of mercury in these bulbs and how our landfills would be affected because of them not being disposed of properly.
However, I hadn't considered the full extent of the danger they posed to our health as well. Especially about Autism. Mercury poisoning in vaccinations (old ones-not the new ones) are being blamed for the incredible rise in Autism rates. That's my biggest concern with mercury.
However, while reading articles about the dangers, pros and cons, I've come to my own personal conclusion that it's not all that bad. IF you follow some simple steps:
First, purchase the lowest mercury cfl's from the following manufacturers. They'll at least reduce the risks.
Phillips Low Mercury Britelite: http://britelite.com/Products/Alto.html
Second, know what to do if one breaks by learning more and educating everyone you know about these at http://www.energystar.gov/
There's a lot of hype, created (I think) by lobbyists for certain corporations who would like you to think cfl bulbs aren't safe at all, or their bulbs are the only ones safe. (competition is being phased out by 2012)
So, balance your knowledge and be careful when disposing of these bulbs, or if one breaks. If you want to know more about cfl pro's and con's, visit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compact_fluorescent_lamp to see more.
A couple of examples of the info on the web:Here's an article re-published by the Modesto Bee:
Last year Congress passed a bill aimed at reducing energy consumption. That's a laudable goal. Who doesn't want to save energy? One of the proposals signed into law, though, goes too far -- and, as I recently found out with my kids, even can endanger your health.
Lawmakers mandated the eventual replacement of conventional, incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent lights, or CFLs. They're supposed to be four times more efficient than incandescent bulbs, so it made sense to try them.
Recently, however, the law of unintended consequences hit home in a very personal way. It was a typical Sunday. The kids were running around. Then, a crash -- my favorite lamp. Yes, I was upset, but as I looked closer, fear gripped my heart. The lamp had a new CFL bulb -- which contains mercury.
I immediately shooed my children away. I was too scared to be angry. I then did what anyone with a toxic substance leaking into the floor would do: I cleaned it up.
That was a mistake. You see, if you break one of the new CFL bulbs, it turns out that your first course of action should be to open all doors and windows and air out the room. Oh, and everyone should leave for at least 15 minutes.
Didn't know that? Funny, neither did I. The mercury actually changes to vapor at room temperature, and can be inhaled, as I probably did leaning over the shards of the bulb to clean it up.
My next mistake was to vacuum up the little pieces, since I couldn't seem to corral them with a wet towel. Now I have to throw away my new $400 vacuum. Mercury can get into your vacuum and, once heated in the motor, can infect the air around it.
The one bright spot is that this happened on a hardwood floor. If it had been a carpeted floor, a study out of Maine recommends that you cut out the piece of carpeting infected by the mercury to make sure it doesn't get vacuumed up and start swirling around in the air.
Of course, I didn't learn all this until I spent three hours searching the Internet and talking by phone to the local poison-control office. All I could find on the actual box was that there was indeed mercury in the bulbs and a Web site to check.
So here I sit with the recriminations and the questions. Did my kids get exposed to mercury in the few moments it took to clear the room? And how much was I exposed to while cleaning it up? It was just a light bulb, after all, right?
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the amount of mercury in CFLs is less than the tip of a ballpoint pen. This is good, except that since you can't actually see it, you can't really be sure you cleaned it all up.
Should I pay to have a service come out to monitor whether I cleaned up properly? Should I have my family tested for mercury poisoning? It seems so silly, after all, for just a light bulb. But can you ever be sure enough?
It was my choice to buy the bulb and put it in the lamp. However, under the new law passed last year, incandescent bulbs will begin to be phased out in 2012, and people no longer will have a choice. I wonder how many of them will understand these complex cleanup and disposal procedures to ensure the safety of their families?
CFL bulbs may save a lot of energy and help the environment. For some people, they may be the right choice. But we always need to beware the law of unintended consequences. And for now, this mom will be using incandescent bulbs. At least until my lamp breakers are old enough to play responsibly.
Doane is a director of congressional relations at The Heritage Foundation.
Here's more on the subject at http://www.greenerbuildings.com/:
While everyone seems to be pushing the use of fluorescent bulbs, no one seems to be talking about how they contain mercury. Are there any alternatives? A: You bring up an excellent point about fluorescent bulbs and their mercury content. Let's explore some of the issues: Click here to read more...
In closing, search for your own answers. Fully investigate (that's one reason this blog entry was edited twice) and then share your knowledge.