Light Bulbs and Mercury Part 2


In my last entry I raised three questions about Compact Flourescent Light bulbs aka CFL’s

1) What about regular fluorescent tubes? They have mercury too, and sometimes in greater quantity.

2) How do you dispose of these bulbs in they have mercury in them. If you put them in regular trash are you guilty of a crime?

3) Has the hazmat materials response to mercury gotten out of hand?

An astute reader pointed out that for questions 1 and 2, there indeed is a problem. Apparently CFL’s are categorized “universal waste” and shouldn’t be thrown away in the

regular trash under a 2004 state law.

Here’s a list of things that the state doesn’t want you to throw away in your regular trash:

But there is some ahem, “good” news, and that is that you can take your CFL’s and flourescent tubes out to the hazwaste disposal site at the airport. Like many “household hazardous waste” materials (now including

batteries), Butte County takes bulbs at its recycling facility at the

airport, details here:

Given that disposing of CFL’s requires special handling, I think high efficiency LED bulbs are the answer, I don’t want to put my family in the position of breaking a law for accidental disposal in regular household trash

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May 2, 2007 7:36 pm

I don’t want to put my family in the position of breaking a law for accidental disposal in regular household trash
That’s getting harder and harder to avoid, isn’t it?

June 19, 2007 4:03 pm

Hi Anthony, that Engadget article that you linked to here (near the end of your post) … the GE announcement is about a new type of incandescent bulb; your link is titled LED, sorry to split hairs.
A couple of web links (that are working at this time), relevant to the GE announcement —
Thanks; Larry in San Jose

November 21, 2007 12:10 pm

LEDs are certainly better than CFLs. I’ve been using CFL’s for a few years now and have never had one last even half its claimed lifespan. Furthermore I’ve had three begin smoking as I watched them. I can’t say for certain that they would’ve erupted into flames if I hadn’t been home at the time but I wouldn’t like to take that chance. I suppose I’ve been ecologically irresponsible as far as what I’ve done with the ones that got too dim to use, burned out early, started smoking (the kind that’s REALLY hazardous to your health), and the few I’ve broken over the years. Hopefully the liberal cry of privacy rights will somehow protect us from government agencies digging through our trash to ensure compliance. Nah, that only refers to the privacy of like-thinkers.
the real question looms, though. What’s wrong with old-fashioned incandesants? Oh yeah, the rising energy cost that directly results from the EPA and their ilk messing about with free-enterprise. Otherwise it’s still the best light, and better for the environment than any competition (the electronics manufacturing industry that spits out LED’s is famed for its use of exotic toxins.)

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