The Green Scene

A Bright Idea? (part 1)

Posted in Green Technology,Uncategorized by Brian on November 2, 2008

I remember the first time i saw a compact florescent light bulb (or CFL for short). It looks kind of like a cross between a McDonald’s 99 cent icecream cone and the Michelin man. Cute.


What made it even more interesting was the fact that it used less energy than incandescent light bulbs and that they lasted longer. In the long run, these light bulbs pay for themselves while saving the environment by using less energy. Sweet deal right? Yeah… I thought so too…

It turns out these little bulbs contain a decent amount of mercury inside of them. This is a problem because mercury is toxic and dangerous to humans and the environment. If disposed of improperly, CFL’s could affect water sources, ecosystems, and eventually us.

To make matters worse, most states do not regulate the proper disposal of CFL’s and the states that do regulate on the disposal of these lightbulbs require an inconvenient and cumbersome disposal process. The mercury within these bulbs could have potentially lethal implications.

weblog contributer Ed Morissey : (catch the full post here)

“Even a single CFL could provide toxic levels of exposure for mercury. One contains five milligrams of mercury, which would be enough to contaminate 6,000 gallons of drinking water. Low-mercury models have about one-sixth of the amount, but that’s still enough to contaminate 1,000 gallons. It makes the CFL one of the most toxic components of a household, one that causes kidney and brain damage when people get exposed to enough of it…We have opted for a product that has much more impact on our environment and could turn households into toxic-waste sites to replace a product that uses a little more energy, a change driven ironically by environmentalists.”

CFL’s are already gaining monumental popularity as Americans are quickly switching incandescent bulbs for their coily counterparts. As vast numbers of these bulbs are disposed of into junkyards improperly, the community as well as the environmental regions are sure to suffer from the effects of mercury on soil, water, and wildlife.

Are we really saving the environment through the usage of CFL’s?


One Response to 'A Bright Idea? (part 1)'

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  1. michaelb21 said,

    Shoot, a couple of months ago I replaced all of the bulbs in my house with CFL’s. I will say that by switching to CFL’s I have reduced the cost of my electricity bill by $50 a month. Now I need to consider if this trade off is worth it. As of right now I assume that the CFL’s are dangerous only if they break. But I could be wrong; you know what they say about assumptions. I feel that there needs to be a higher awareness of how to dispose of hazardous and non-hazardous materials in general.

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