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> emit highly toxic mercury

Do you have a source for energy efficient CFLs "emitting mercury"?

They certainly emit mercury when they're broken, and the instructions for cleaning up broken CFLs call for several hours of ventilation, which implies that the mercury vapor escapes into the atmosphere. (See, for example, the cleanup instructions at the bottom of this page: http://www.epa.state.il.us/mercury/compact-fluorescent.html)

I'd guess that a large percentage of people who buy CFLs are totally unaware of how to deal with these hazards (or are even unaware that the bulbs contain poisonous material).

Also, the rise in the use of CFLs means that more people will be exposed to mercury while mining it and while assembling the lamps (probably in places like China, where occupational health laws are fairly lax).

On the other hand though, CFLs, with a current energy production mix of sources, cause, even if broken, less mercury to be emitted into the atmosphere than the extra power required to light an equivalent incandescent would cause to be emitted during generation (coal is mostly to blame for this). They also cause far fewer greenhouse gasses to be emitted.

Also consider that in today's litigious world, no one wants to say "don't worry if you break a bulb, there's not really enough mercury to be dangerous in one" lest someone starts breaking bulbs with wild abandon and then suing the authority that told them they 'weren't dangerous'.

There's some interesting discussion on this topic here: http://skeptics.stackexchange.com/questions/297/how-dangerou...

Pity about the unhealthy color temperature.

People that support these things are not really all that clued in.

There are many levels of fail.

These things also are not supposed to be used covered by a bulb or upside down. (link I found the quickest http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/when-you-shoudnt-use-cfl-bul... )

I've seen local ordinances that in effect mandate the incorrect usage of CFLs. As such, a fixture at my mom's house results in a burned out (due to overheating) CFL about once every 6 months.

DanBC, take a look at the packaging for any CFL. They describe in great detail the procedure for cleaning up a broken bulb.

"They describe in great detail the procedure for cleaning up a broken bulb."

Are you talking about packaging in the US? The packaging in the EU, I saw so far, don't even mention the mercury, not to mention cleaning instructions.

Packaging in New York state to be specific. (I think a lot of these consumer warnings are mandated at the state level. )

Sure, a broken bulb will release an amount of the 5 mg of mercury that a CFL contains. But it's not harmful unless you breath it, which is why you ventilate the room.

Lignuist's comment made me think they were talking about intact lamps.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8n_FIOqi5DU&sns=em German documentary. At 09:10 the guy detects emissions.

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