Mercury in energy-saving bulbs worries scientists

Well after buying CFL’s for every lamp in my home, I awake to see this article.  Saving energy is great, but what’s the cost? 

Mercury, known for its adverse effects on the nervous system, as well as liver and kidney damage – or even death – it turns out is a necessary part of compact fluorescent light bulbs.  The bulbs are so energy-efficient that California, Australia, and the EU have all spoken of mandating their use and banning traditional incandescent bulbs.

With an estimated 150 million CFLs sold in the United States in 2006 and with Wal-Mart alone hoping to sell 100 million this year, some scientists and environmentalists are worried that most are ending up in garbage dumps.

U.S. regulators, manufacturers and environmentalists note that, because CFLs require less electricity than traditional incandescent bulbs, they reduce overall mercury in the atmosphere by cutting emissions from coal-fired power plants.

But some of the mercury emitted from landfills is in the form of vaporous methyl-mercury, which can get into the food chain more readily than inorganic elemental mercury released directly from a broken bulb or even coal-fired power plants


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