Posted by: Lawyer Sanders | February 2, 2009

Environmental lawyer Sanders says U.S. EPA favors CFL bulbs despite the fact that they contain small amounts of mercury.

Did you know that compact fluorescent light bulbs (“CFL bulbs”) use 75 percent less energy and last up to 10 times longer than incandescent bulbs?  Unfortunately, there is a concern that CFLs contain a small amount of mercury.  Mercury is, of course, toxic to human health and the environment.

EPA says the benefits of lower energy consumption outweigh the disadvantages but EPA promotes and encourages the safe disposal of old CFL bulbs to prevent the release of mercury into the environment.  When a CFL bulb is finally kaput, call your local government for information on recycling of old CFL bulbs.   Recycling is much better than disposing of the bulb in the landfill, if possible. 


According to EPA, because CFL bulbs use 75 percent less energy than traditional incandescent light bulbs, if every American switched one incandescent bulb to a CFL, it would save more than $600 million in annual energy costs and prevent greenhouse gases equivalent to the emissions from 800,000 cars.

But if a bulb accidentally breaks, proper clean-up is necessary.  EPA advises that the first thing to do is to get everyone out of room, including pets.  Second, open a window to air out the room for at least 15 minutes.  


If you broke the bulb on a hard surface, take a piece of stiff paper or cardboard and scoop up as much of the debris and residue as you can.  EPA advises to use an old glove or sock to protect hands and then wipe up any remaining residue with a moist paper towel.


If you broke the bulb on a carpeted surface, you’ll want to use sticky tape to blot up any residue. Put everything in a plastic bag or a jar that can be sealed with a lid and dispose of it with the regular household trash, according to EPA’s website. 

For more information on CFLs go to:


  1. Zoinks! Great article!
    Dr. Z

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