Okay, we all know that those fluorescent bulbs are more efficient than incandescent bulbs. They last longer, and reduce greenhouse gasses.
And everyone is on the bandwagon. Canada starts phasing out incandescent bulbs starting next year. In the US, it’s 2014. Australia led the way in 2007, and the European Union came soon after.
Here’s the thing. Incandescent light bulbs, as inefficient as they are, don’t contain mercury.
But fluorescents do.
Okay fine, the mercury is in the bulb and as long as they don’t break…
Yes, mercury is a naturally occurring element, just as the inert gas used in the incandescent bulb is also naturally occurring. The difference with mercury is that it’s a neurotoxin that can damage the brain, spinal cord, kidneys and liver through chronic exposure.
Health Canada says, “Mercury can impair the ability to feel, see, move and taste and can cause numbness and tunnel vision. Long-term exposure can lead to progressively worse symptoms and ultimately personality changes, stupor and in extreme cases, coma or death,” according to Health Canada.
The regulator goes on to say that recent research suggests even at low levels, mercury can have adverse health impacts on the cardiovascular and immune system.
Here’s the question. What happens to all these bulbs when they are spent? And what happens if they break en route to a disposal facility?
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that three per cent of the total mercury in Read the rest of this entry »