[Greenbuilding] Broken CFL Bulbs

Michael O'Brien obrien at hevanet.com
Fri Feb 22 08:35:33 PST 2013

Hi, Eli--

Your wife is right to be concerned about mercury. However, if your electricity is being generated by a coal-fired power plant, it is putting more mercury into the atmosphere than the broken bulb. I mean, the amount of mercury in the bulb is only a fraction of the mercury that the bulb's electricity use creates. It's just more immediately obvious when the source is at your feet.

In our house we use a mix of CFLs and halogens. The halogens are 20W floods on tracks that run off a common 600W transformer, which makes the individual fixtures inexpensive. We like the brighter, contrastier light for some functions, like reading or working at the dining room table. At 20W each the power consumption is not horrible.


Mike O'Brien

Mike O'Brien Photography

On Feb 22, 2013, at 8:07 AM, Eli Talking wrote:

> We have been encouraged to use CFL bulbs to save energy which reduces pollution from the reduced production of power that it would take to feed that same amount of light of incandescent bulbs.  However, the mercury contained within is an environmental threat.  I felt incomplete when there was no way to dispose of burnt out bulbs until Lowe’s starting taking them locally.  However, how should we clean up the inevitable breakage in the home. 
> http://www2.epa.gov/cfl/cleaning-broken-cfl
> describes the EPA’s answer to that. 
> My wife has picked up on this threat and has insisted we return to the inefficient incandescent. 
> Thoughts are appreciated on the response to the threat of broken cfl bulbs. 
> Are LED lights ready to replace the common side lamps? 
> Eli
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