After our commodity “5 things to apperceive about bunched beaming ablaze bulbs” [Feb. 18, 2007] we accustomed added than a dozen e-mails pointing out that, like all beaming bulbs, CFLs accommodate baby amounts of mercury. Here’s one example:
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Do you apperceive annihilation about the abuse they account back they are discarded? I accept heard that they accommodate mercury and that the all-embracing crisis of mercury abuse from these alone bulbs outweighs any advantages they offer. — Mike Manley, Chicago
H&G says: “When you counterbalance the pros and cons of bunched fluorescents, the mercury affair is important, but it shouldn’t avert anyone from activity out and affairs them because the allowances far outweigh the abeyant risks,” says Jeff Deyette, an activity analyst with the Union of Concerned Scientists, a Washington-based ecology accumulation (www.ucsusa.org).
The actual baby bulk of mercury in a CFL — about 5 milligrams, compared to an ancient home thermometer, which had about 500 milligrams — is safe while the ball is in operation and poses little accident alike if it breaks, according to the U.S. Ecology Protection Agency (see the actuality breadth at www.energystar.gov/ia/partners/promotion s/change(underscore)light/downloads/Fact (underscore)Sheet(underscore)Mercury.pdf).
“That doesn’t abate the accent of able auctioning of bunched fluorescents,” Deyette says. If CFLs are beatific to landfills — or worse, incinerated — the mercury can end up in waterways. There, it accumulates through the aliment alternation until it builds up in the tissue of fish. If bodies eat abundant attenuated fish, mercury can account adorning problems in accouchement and acoustic accident in adults.
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That’s bad, but “it’s important to attending at the tradeoffs,” Deyette says. Consider this: 40 percent of mercury emissions in the U.S. comes from coal-fired ability plants. So by blurred electrical demand, application CFLs can absolutely cut mercury emissions, Deyette says, as able-bodied as abate greenhouse gases that accord to all-around altitude change.
Here’s the problem: Admitting the mercury can be recaptured if the CFLs are recycled, so far it is boilerplate abreast as accessible to recycle them as it is to buy them. The EPA, which promotes the use of bunched fluorescents through its Activity Star attention program, has been criticized for encouraging, rather than requiring, that CFLs be recycled. And admitting an accomplishment is beneath way to authorize a larger-scale accumulating arrangement through big-box stores, it hasn’t happened yet.
There are a few options in the Chicago area, though.
Household chancy decay accumulating days: Check with borough admiral to see if they accept appointed a accumulating by the Illinois Ecology Protection Agency. The agenda for 2007 has not yet been acquaint at www.epa.state.il.us/land/hazardous-waste /household-haz-waste/hhwc-schedule.html
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Household chancy decay accumulating sites:
– Household Products and Electronics Accumulating and Training Center, 1150 N. North Branch St. Call: 311
– Fire Station No. 4, 1971 Brookdale Rd., Naperville, 630-420-6700, columnist #7559
– IKEA stores: 800 E. McConnor Pkwy., Schaumburg, 847-969-9700; 750 E. Boughton Rd., Bolingbrook, 630-972-7900.
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Other beaming recycling agencies and companies: Go to www.earth911.org, bang on “Household chancy waste” and again on “Fluorescent bulbs.”
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