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Switching from incandescent bulbs to fluorescent bulbs can save energy, but there other other issues. The environmental complications with fluorescent bulbs (including CFLs) is that they contain mercury…and mercury falls under EPA’s hazardous waste listings and also the Universal Waste Rule (UWR). While most households dispose of CFLs in their trash, it is a dangerous practice. Municipal and county landfills simply are not constructed to contain leaching mercury and prevent it from possibly reaching groundwater sources. Mercury can also vaporize. Because of the release of mercury, EPA recommends that if you break a fluorescent bulb, you should:
Changing to CFL’s has implications for people as well as the environment when the bulbs are landfilled. While the switch may save energy, it is not necessarily better for the environment. Life is full of tradeoffs!
Obviously, there is no simple solution to saving the planet. It takes each of us using a common sense approach to daily life and doing what is right…..but not necessarily easy!