Around 900 million of CFL bulbs are discarded annually throughout the world. The fact is that most of them are not discarded properly. Eventually they end up mixing with water sources and earth.
Total amount of mercury in five bulbs is enough to eradicate the aquatic life in 7,70,000 gallons of water. Now that sounds scary.
Once mercury is exposed to environment it forms methylmercury by the action of anaerobic aquatic organisms that live in aquatic systems like rivers, lakes, soil etc. For the record methylmercury is much more toxic. It gets absorbed into water, food cultivations. As it has a half-life of 72 days in aquatic environments it remains for a considerable time in the environment without decaying. Also methylmercury gets biomagnified in aquatic food chains. That means the concentration of methylmercury increases with the level of the food chain. So the predators ,birds and specially humans who are in higher levels of the food chains are at a high threat of receiving million times amplified amount of poison.
Methylmercury can damage brain and nerve system of a grown up man and can cause irreversible damages for the growth of infants. According to the report of American national Science Academy 60,000 of impaired children are born annually in America due to exposure of high level of methylmercury during pregnancy.
What a broken CFL bulb can do?
Mercury gas and dust emitted from a broken bulb can remain on your bed spreads, carpets for about 20 years. Now you may see that a broken bulb is not just an economical lose. Children of your future generations will play on these polluted mattresses and carpets.
American Environmental Agency has published these guidelines to ensure your safety
- Never remove a bulb while it’s still hot. It can be more dangerous than a normal bulb.
- When a bulb is broken in a room vacant the room immediately before people get exposed to mercury gas.
- Keep all the doors and windows opened for 15 minutes.
- Switch off the fans.
- Remove broken glass using disposable gloves.
- Remove all the bed spreads, carpets in the room. Never use them again.
- Put all the waste material in a sealed polythene bags.
Do CFL bulbs increase the threat of breast cancers?
The bright blue light emitted from CFL bulb is similar to day light and it reduces the secretion of melatonin from pineal gland in brain. This may cause breast cancers and also prostate gland cancers in males. World health Organization has accepted that employees like nurses who work at night under some kind of light source are at high risk.
Do CFL bulbs save your money?
People are prone to use CFL bulbs because they save energy and also there is a belief that they also save money.
Manufactures say that by using CFL bulbs can save 80% of your electricity bill but keep in mind this 80% means the electricity required to light the bulb. Normally in a house 5% of electricity from the total usage is consumed to light bulbs.
These bulbs are manufactured to expire soon as their warranty period expires. The first bulb manufactured by Thomas Alva Edison over 100 years ago still functions and produce light. This shows that economic forces which are only targeted on increasing sales have conquered the market and exploit your money and the environment.
By not turning on your television unnecessarily, by maintaining your fridge properly and by using electricity with proper management you will be benefited with good personal health and a healthy environment.
If CFL bulbs are used with care and if discarded bulbs are recycled properly they won’t cause so much trouble. But the manufacturers and the sellers seem to pay no attention about this. But few countries who are keen about their environment and people have paid attention for this fact.
- New Zealand government has removed the law which prohibits the usage of normal bulbs.
- German government has prohibited using CFL bulbs in public places and hospitals.
- To reduce the harm caused by CFL bulbs most developed countries have given the responsibility of discarding them properly to their manufactures.
Now the time is ripen enough to take proper actions against the environmental destruction and save it for the future generations.