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Misinformed Media: The Mercury Saga Continues

15 July 2008

People. Okay. I feel a little like a broken record here, but this Fox News report was brought to my attention today, so it’s obvious that there are still lots of misconceptions about the mercury issue when it comes to compact fluorescent light bulbs. This report blatantly states many inconsistencies as “fact.”

In order to clear up some misconceptions, here are (again) some real facts about compact fluorescent light bulbs:

The average compact fluorescent light bulb contains around 4 milligrams of mercury, and that amount is consistently being lessened as technology improves. When a CFL breaks, it does not mean that you need to raze your house, salt the ground and start over. Just as you take basic precautions with commonly used household chemicals like ammonia, you need to take proper basic precautions when a CFL breaks. The guidelines are simple and easy to follow.

Using compact fluorescent light bulbs helps to REDUCE the amount of mercury in the environment! Because here in Minnesota, we get over 75% of our electricity from burning coal, which releases mercury directly into our environment. CFLs use 75% less electricity, so the emissions created are much less (US Environmental Protection Agency).

There is five times the amount of mercury in a CFL in a single watch battery (Vermont Department of Health and Environmental Conservation). And if you have any dental amalgams – fillings – odds are, they contain the equivalent of 100 CFLs-worth of mercury (EnergyStar Canada).

This news story was obviously meant to be shocking and create a sort of dramatic story around compact fluorescents. The truth is much more boring – these are just good lights that help people save money and reduce the amount of toxins being released into the environment. And don’t forget, you can recycle them for free at Menards! Before being convinced by the media, do your own research and you’ll see that this mercury debate is making a mountain out of a molehill.

Finally, no one is going to force ANYONE to buy compact fluorescents. By the time that incandescents are phased out (because they do waste 98% of energy as heat), light emitting diodes, or LED lights, will be much more inexpensive. And they contain NO mercury and last longer than CFLs! The future is bright!

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