Sunday, September 14, 2008


There has been a tremendous push by environmental groups to urge residents to replace incandescent light bulbs with the miniature fluorescent bulbs. The energy savings and diminished demand at the power plant are the main drive for the national campaign.

However, these new bulbs have mercury in them as a conduit for the bright chemical reaction in these bulbs. Although the bulbs have just a slight amount of mercury in them, the manufacturer urges the consumer to avoid vacuuming the broken glass should you break one.
Why? Because the substance will be dispersed throughout your home, that’s why. A professor, Robert Hurt of Brown University has created a product that absorbs mercury 70 times better than the best available technology. This is where the green industry is heading.

I like the new terminology they use: Nanomaterial. It’s making the big promises about collecting the mercury vapours using [get this]: selenium nanoparticles.

If I didn’t read this in a report, I wouldn’t believe it either.

The report says: By covering the breakage with the selenium lined paper for two days, you can stop almost all of the release; they think it forms mercury selenide, which is a very stable compound. They think!

Without the paper, the mercury slowly evaporates from the broken bulb over several days.

Why do I want to shift over to these new lights? Where’s the up-side?

Despite the minor hazard in the home, CFLs use less mercury than incandescent bulbs running on electricity from coal, which releases mercury when burned. So you’re releasing less mercury into the general atmosphere by using less energy in the home.

What I want to know is where are we supposed to deposit these condensed and tube fluorescent commercial bulbs? I see them in household and commercial trash cans but I know of no provisions to collect and recycle them. The issue has never come up in any meetings at City Hall and the folks at UCRRA have no answers.

Perhaps we can designate a special truck on Fridays like the metal collection crew we have now and they can carefully place bulbs in the padded compartment, avoiding all potholes in the street and cruising out to some recycling facility based in New Paltz or Woodstock.


Anonymous said...

I have replaced almost every bulb in my house with these new energy savers, i also noticed a decent size reduction in usage when i got my utility bill,but the cost was almost the same,we conserve,they lose money so rates go up.We can't seem to win

Anonymous said...

UCRRA Husehold hazerdous waste will take them.

Anonymous said...

DPW took 6 of those long flourescent bulbs from the "Family of Woodstock' house across from me.

They cant be doing that.