April 29, 2007

Energy Conservation vs. Environmental Conservation

Wait a minute - what do you mean my new CFL lightbulbs contain mercury? Yes, I guess it DOES say it right on the box. In fact, it says I must dispose of them according to local and state laws. Yeah, I'll get right on that. In fact, I'll have my corporate lawyer look up those disposal instructions right now. The main link goes to a story about a woman who dropped one of these new CFLs.....onto a carpet.....in her house......and it broke.....and cost her thousands to get cleaned up properly.

Are CFL's right for homes? People drop light bulbs all of the time, and when they break, they may not be aware of the high risk they are at for exposure and what Mercury can do to them. Mad as a hatter was a term coined because working with mercury would make hat-makers insane. We already know that mercury is extremely bad for the developing minds of young children. Is a chemical so dangerous that it's no longer allowed in children's toys or medical implements (thermometers) be put into every light socket in America, in the name of energy conservation?

At what point does one environmental catastrophe pay for another? Yes, we need to save energy, but I'm not so sure that I'm feeling very safe now that I realize that I've put 10-12 mercury-laden bulbs in my house. I know that I didn't read the warnings on the box before seeing this article on the Internet. Are American families being asked too much of when they're asked to dispose of these bulbs according to applicable laws? [The answer is yes - SOME_MADE_UP_NUMBER % of people don't even both to separate/recycle.] When we start mass-producing these bulbs, do we even have a place to put them when they burn out; or even a process to recover the mercury to make them safe to dispose of?

You just KNOW that these CFLs are going to end up in landfills. I'm seriously thinking, after reading this article, that we've made a big mistake in marketing CFLs to the population at large. Not that we have many alternatives to incandescent lighting yet, but this doesn't seem like a viable option.


Matthew Martin said...

A quick google of CFLs and mercury sez that in net, CFLs put less mercury into the world than incandescents because electricity production itself puts mercury into the air, via burning coal. (40% less in the article I read) Fairfax County DPWES takes the bulbs--just like it takes paint, batteries with mercury, CRTs with lead, and the others toxic household products that we trust the general public to dispose of properly. I agree a mercury free bulb is better than one with mercury, but I wouldn't want to hold off on replacing the incandescents until one was invented.

Star said...

I had no idea ! We just started replacing our bulbs at home. THe hubby has been in charge of that. I will check it oout.

Rich said...

More mercury in the air from electricity production may be bad, but breaking a mercury bulb in my house puts a LOT more mercury in my home. As far as people throwing away haz-mats properly, like I said, some people can't even be bothered to recycle.