Recycle Those Light Bulbs! (They’re More ‘Toxic’ than Coal Ash)

            America’s push to use more energy efficient compact fluorescent light bulbs may be having an unintended negative effect on our environment – namely the release of large quantities of mercury because of improper disposal.

            Compact fluorescent light bulbs each contain up to five milligrams of mercury.  Compared on a pound for pound basis, that is many times the amount of mercury contained in coal ash which is under attack from environmental activists.

            Extremely low recycling rates for the new bulbs – perhaps as low as 2 percent for residential users – means that large numbers of the bulbs are being disposed in ways that could release the mercury to air and water.  For a story by a California newspaper about the problem, click here:

            The situation presented by mercury in our light bulbs highlights a couple of key points about coal ash recycling:

            First, just because something contains a substance like mercury does not make it “toxic.”  Compact fluorescent light bulbs are safe to use in our homes and other buildings, just as coal ash is safe when it is used as an ingredient in building materials.

            Second, the best solution to disposal problems is to quit throwing things away. Once again, that goes for both light bulbs and coal ash.  Individuals, businesses, governments and environmental activists should actively support efforts to safely recycle materials.

Posted by: on: Apr 26, 2011 @ 08:48