Thursday, August 27, 2009
Tonight on Good Question, a viewer wants to know if energy efficient light bulbs contain mercury, and if so, where to recycle them.
Going green may have a catch. Compact fluorescent bulbs, or CFLs, contain small amounts of mercury. The amount is enough of a toxic concern that the Environmental Protection Agency has a warning on its website about what to do if you accidentally break a bulb. It says to ventilate the room immediately, leave the room for 15 minutes and to not use a vacuum to pick up the pieces.
Since it’s not advised to put CFLs in the regular trash, some retailers are offering bulb take-back programs. Home Depot will let you drop off your bulbs at no cost. You can also call your local trash service to see if they offer a special CFL bulb program.
At this point, mercury is in all high-efficiency light bulbs. Some manufacturers are working on bulbs that will prevent the mercury from being released into the air if the bulb breaks. As the technology evolves, so will the safety of its use.
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