Diva Musings

Does Energy savings out weight the Mercury contamination?

I freely admit that I have a bunch of fluorescent bulbs in my apartment. You just can’t compete with the energy savings, but at what cost to the environment?

Compact Fluorescents (CFL’s)— the squiggly, coiled bulbs that generate light by heating gases in a glass tube — are generally considered to use more than 50 percent less energy and to last several times longer than incandescent bulbs.

There are many studies and articles that tote the advantages of using the fluorescent bulbs:

  • they do reduce the overall emissions
  • they do save energy
  • they do last much longer
  • they contain minuscule amounts of mercury

Did you know that?

Well just containing mercury is not so bad right, we still use thermometers which have mercury.  How bad can it really be?

Have you thought about what happens when you drop a fluorescent bulb?  If you have, did you follow the EPA guidelines to clean it up?

Do you even KNOW the guidelines?

A summary of the EPA guidelines:  You can find the full guidelines here

  1. Air out the room for a quarter of an hour. Wear gloves.
  2. Double-bag the refuse.
  3. Use duct tape to lift the residue from a carpet.
  4. Don’t use a vacuum cleaner, as that will only spread the problem.
  5. The next time you vacuum the area, immediately dispose of the vacuum bag.

You can find a more detailed cleanup list at http://www.wikihow.com/Clean-up-Broken-Compact-Fluorescent-Light-Bulbs

Used and Broken bulbs should be correctly disposed of at a proper facility.  Do you know where your local facility is?

Some States even have laws against disposing of the bulbs into the local garbage collect, you should check the law in your area.

The web site Project Porch Light has a list of facilities and stores in North America. You can review them here

The chances of one light bulb in your house that is broken becoming a problem is really very slim, take the proper precautions, the savings alone are with the little trouble that you need to go through if you break a bulb.

The problem is really about the fact that, we bought more than 300 million CFLs last year.

Are we just trading one problem for another, when uninformed people just throw out their bulbs and then end up in the landfills.

I firmly believe that many people, get very impassioned with an idea, they they forget to look at the bigger, longer term vision of the earth.   Is saving energy with THIS particular product the best way? what other options are there?

Are we informed…. or are we blindly following along?

Educate yourself, know what the consequences of your decisions are and if you decide to continue using the fluorescent bulbs, know your responsibilities for how to handle them and dispose of them properly.

Yep, I have fluorescent bulbs, I know how to clean up a broken bulb and I know where my local Home Depot or Rona is.

This is the choice I have made for now.   But I am looking for even better, safer, cleaner ways to light up my house… are you?

2 thoughts on “Does Energy savings out weight the Mercury contamination?

  1. Answer me this.  If Compact Fluorescents lighting poses such a huge environmental hazard and there is an alternative (LED) then why are Compact Fluorescents lights still being produced, and why hasn’t our government outlawed them and mandated that they are disposed of correctly?

    1. Good question Ron, They use very low energy and if used properly are fine.

      I’ll be interested to see what new products come out in the next few years that will be even more evolved.

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