Last week I was engaged in a conversation with my electrician regarding the safety and effectiveness of CFL light bulbs. I thought I would do some digging, as I did not feel confident that I had all the answers to his questions. This week we will outline the reasons why CFL lightbulbs are advantageous to the home owner, how to select the right bulb, where to recycle burned out bulbs and how to dispose of them if they break.
I think the most important factor to investigate is the safety aspect. CFL bulbs contain small amounts of mercury, and if the bulb is broken this could pose a heath risk. Tomorrow I will tell you how to dispose of a broken bulb properly. In the mean time, let me alleviate your fears a little. CFL bulbs contain about 4 mg of mercury compared to other common household items: Watch battery (25 mg), Dental Filling (500 mg, by the way, that one is in your mouth!), home thermometer ( 500 mg – 2 g), and sump pump float switches (2 g).
The EPA promotes a report by an independent science committee that indicates the tiny amount of vaporized mercury from a single broken bulb is within the safe range for adults. The agency urges people to use CFLs, arguing their energy savings outweigh the potential health hazard.