Monday, April 30, 2007

Breaking CFLs

Compact Flourescent Lamps or CTLs have been hailed as a wonderful new way to save energy and they are. Even though they do contain some significant pollutents they have less than power plants would create to make up for the energy saved. CTLs are a no brainer, right?

Better think some more. A friend IM'd me today to discuss an interesting conundrum. He has a young child who, in a fit of pique, kicked a CTL in his bedroom lamp and broke it. The roughly 4 mg of powered mercury are now embedded in the carpet, the bedding, the curtains, the boy...

It is legal in the US to dispose of CTLs in regular trash. Naturally, this results in a lot of mercury contamination landfills. Consumer guidance has focused on this issue; how and where to dispose of them properly. Unfortunately, I have been unable to find any guidance on avoiding them in the bedrooms and play areas frequented by young and rambuctious children.


  1. We did a basic cleanup according to manufacturer advice. This involved vacuuming, a wet cloth, and washing anything that was in the vicinity.

    Feeling this was totally inadequate, two weeks later I had us all tested for mercury. Fortunately everyone's results were very low - amazing given the family's penchant for sushi!

  2. Sounds like it was totally adequate, then.

    I myself use CFLs only in track lighting (most of the house) and other fixtures well out of reach.