New studies have shown that under certain conditions, broken compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) can pose a health risk because most contain small amounts of mercury. A new report from the Mercury Policy Project reveals that although breakage can occur, CFLs should still be used in the home.
"People should feel perfectly comfortable buying and using compact fluorescent lamps in their homes," said Bill Magavern, Director of Sierra Club California. "CFLs play an important role in increasing efficiency, cutting home energy costs and curbing global warming. Just as with many other household products, consumers should take some precautions if a bulb happens to break or when it's time to recycle one," Magavern added.
The report, "Shedding Light on Mercury Risks from CFL Breakage," does recommend adopting more comprehensive guidelines to address toxicity in lighting and responisble managment (i.e. recycling). In California, CFLs have been classified as universal waste and thus cannot be thrown in the trash but must instead, be properly recycled. In 2007, Governor Schwarzenegger signed CAW sponsored, AB 1109 (Huffman), a comprehensive bill addressing these issues by requiring reductions in energy usage for lighting, encourage the use of more efficient lighting technologies, reduce hazardous waste in lighting and creating a task force to address better recycling opportunities.
CAW is on the DTSC's AB 1109 Task Force that will first meet this coming Tuesday, March 4, to discuss recycling solutions to the mercury CFL problem.
Read the complete report, "Shedding Light on Mercury Risks from CFL Breakage."
What You Can Do
- Find a place to properly dispose of your unwanted fluorescent lighting.