Tuesday, February 26, 2008

What to do when compact fluorescents crack

The Boston Globe explains What to do when compact fluorescents crack. See they contain mercury which is a toxin and "can pose a small risk of mercury poisoning to infants, young children, and pregnant women if they break"


Don said...

I have to wonder if we can't create less hazardous energy efficient bulbs. We already have enough sources of toxins in our environment, and now that incandescents are being phased out, we'll have tons more mercury out there in the form of compact fluorescents...

Howard said...

Well I guess there are LEDs.

Natalie & Jessica's Dad said...

This is freaking nuts. I'm going out to hoard incandescents until LEDs become more affordable.

Actually perhaps a more reasonable option would be candles. No toxins there. Oh wait, we killed all the bees.

Howard said...

Aren't candles Paraffin which is unrelated to bees?

And I haven't heard much about the bees lately. Are they still gone? Did they get better? Oh and I think it's Bush's fault. Didn't he try to bring democracy to bee colonies? :)

Richard Koehler said...

I forget to read the blog for a day or two and all of you go screaming down the crazy path to not using CFL's. Have any of you every actually cracked a compact flourescent bulb? (The long ones don't count for this discussion because we have all broken those at some time. And they're only in the shop.)

The mercury in CFL's is minor, but do please recycle them when you are done with them. I would think that reasonable care would prevent breakage. Remember how much electricity the CFL's are saving and how important that is?

Candles release smoke which has been know to cause cancer. Fire also tends to burn down things, even though it is real pretty. If you start throwing CFL's around just to break them and get at the mercury to huff it then I think open flames are not a good alternative.

I think only Catholic churches use beeswax candles anymore. Perhaps a nice environmentally sustainable soy candle would be more appropriate.

Richard Koehler said...

But seriously:

From a Jan 12th Delaware News Journal article on disposal of household hazardous waste:

"If people were discouraged from using CFLs, then in Delaware, most of our energy typically comes from coal [power plants], and coal is by far the largest emitter of mercury into the environment," Werner said.

Howard said...

Calm down :) I do use CFLs in all fixtures they fit in. And no I haven't broken any, though I don't have small children running around.

It is odd to me that we could switch to something that is more hazardous when broken without given any instructions to people about how to deal with it.

Oh and my sister dragged me to a Yankee Candle factory a few years ago. Neither of us wants to ever see a candle again, still.

Natalie & Jessica's Dad said...

To answer Rich's question, yes, not only have I broken one, but I made it a game. Back when I was a kid I worked with a friend at a carpet store. On slow days we had the job of replacing the fluorescent bulbs (the tube kind). Once we took the old ones out we'd take them around back and launch them like missiles through a carpet tube into the dumpster. Some times it took them two or three tries to get them to burst. But man, they made a cool popping sound. And I'm perfectly fine today, other than that pesky third nipple (Note to self..check wikipedia to find out if good old fashioned fluorescent tubes contain mercury).

Oh by the way, if the idea of putting CFLs in the house is to save money and energy, break one bulb and all the time spent airing out the house and vacuuming will pretty much cancel that savings right out.

My biggest problem is most of them don't dim. We've got recessed lights in many rooms of our house. I recently found a dimmable bulb at Wal-Mart and tried it out. When the dimmer is all the way down, that one fixture looks lie the overhead light on a coffee house poetry reading stage. They don't dim nearly as much as incandescents do.