SAVE MONEY, SAVE THE ENVIRONMENT
Put your hand near a regular light bulb. The heat that you feel is money down the drain. Electricity is being wasted to heat the bulb instead of providing light. Now touch a compact fluorescent light bulb. They're 75% more efficient because more of the electricity goes to creating light instead of heat. That's why they save you money. Plus they're good for the environment. By cutting electricity usage, power plants don't need to produce as much electricity. One cfl can keep more than 400 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions out of the atmosphere because of the reduced amount of coal needed to be burned to make electricity.
RISK FROM MERCURY
On average a cfl contains 5 milligrams of mercury. One of those long fluorescent bulbs has 8-14 milligrams of mercury. When a bulb breaks, the mercury is vaporized, which increases its toxicity. Does a broken bulb turn your home into toxic waste site?
To find out, we broke some bulbs and then used a mercury vapor analyzer to measure the amount of mercury in the air. Click the link to read the entire test results. CFL Bulbs.xls
In each case we measured unsafe levels of mercury, however only one bulb released enough mercury to put someone at a slight health risk. For the most part, the amount of mercury and short period of exposure prevents a broken cfl from putting you and your family in danger. Also, it's important to note that in an older cfl the mercury adheres more to the glass, so less is released into the air.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Do Not use a vacuum cleaner on the mess left by a broken compact fluorescent bulb. The EPA has strict guidelines on how to clean up a broken bulb and following those guidelines are key to limiting the health risks to you and your family. Click here to read the EPA's instructions. Some states have passed laws to make it illegal to throw away a cfl with your regular household trash to prevent an accumulation of mercury in landfills. Home Depot stores will take burned out bulbs and recycle them safely. The most extensive tests on the mercury released when a cfl is broken, were conducted by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection.