|Benefits of CFLs greatly outweigh risks
Compact Fluorescent Light bulbs (CFLs) save money, use less electricity and help promote energy efficiency. But what if a bulb breaks? Is the amount of mercury in the bulb harmful? How do you clean it up safely? According to the Environmental Protection Agency, there are no serious concerns, but there are some things you should know about CFLs.
How do you clean up a broken CFL?
According to the EPA, the greatest risk if a CFL bulb breaks is getting cut from the glass shards. Research indicates that there is no immediate health risk to people should a bulb break if it is cleaned up properly:
What should you do with a CFL when it burns out?
Like paint, batteries, thermostats and other hazardous items, CFLs should be disposed of properly. The EPA is working with CFL manufacturers and U.S. retailers to expand disposal options. You can search for disposal options online by using your zip code at www.earth911.com, calling 877-EARTH-911 or visiting www.lamprecycle.org.
Also, check with your local waste management agency. If a disposal site is not available in your area, the EPA suggests placing the burned-out or broken bulb in a plastic bag, which should be sealed before being placed in the trash. Never send a CFL or other mercury-containing product to an incinerator.
The benefits of CFLs greatly outweigh the risks. “There is only a very small amount of mercury in CFLs, hardly enough to worry about,” said Jim Stine, Senior Principal, Environmental Policy Department for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association. “On average, the bulbs contain five milligrams of mercury. Compare that to 3,000 milligrams of mercury in older thermostats and 500 milligrams of mercury in a mercury thermometer.”
Switching from traditional light bulbs to CFLs is an effective, accessible change every American can make to save energy and help the environment.
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