Did you know that last year 300 million American bought those squiggly CFL light bulbs? I was one of the Americans! According to a recent MSNBC article , these energy efficient lights are good and bad. Good because they do indeed solve our energy problem but bad because they contain mercury. The EPA actually has an 12 step process for cleaning up one of these light bulbs so that nobody is harmed because of the mercury. I didn’t know that when I went to the local hardware store and bought my CFL bulbs.

So how dangerous is the mercury and should I really be worried? I am a klutz and could easily break one and according to the steps recommended by the EPA, I should wear gloves and air out the room for 15 minutes. The glass should be recycled but that could be a problem because not all recycling centers are qualified to deal with CFL bulbs and mercury. Try, Earth911 to find a local recycling center. The danger is most people will just throw them out and then they’ll break in our landfills and contaminate the safe drinking water. One CFL bulb has a teeny tiny amount of mercury but enough to contaminate up to 6,000 gallons of water, according to Stanford University. So multiply that by all the CFL bulbs purchased and that’s a big green problem!

This is where the average mom who’s doing her best to go green and live earth friendly gets confused. What is the best thing to do? I feel like using no lights and just burning candles! I am thankful for this being brought to my attention and I know right now, I won’t throw the bulbs away and I’ll be very careful when handling them so I don’t break one. Since everything I read indicates these bulbs aren’t going anywhere, anytime soon and more will continue to be sold I have to look for ones with the lowest mercury as possible and look for recycling centers or start advocating for one in my local area. MSNBC, reported Wal-Mart decreasing the Mercury in the CFL bulbs; retailers like Ikea are offering recycling options for consumers. There is a silver lining, the effort to go green and do better is happening. Now we just have to keep trying, solving problems as they arise and not do more harm than good. So don’t be too discouraged and panic about your CLF bulbs. You’re helping to save energy…just don’t break one or throw it away.

Watch a recent NBC nightly news report on the topic:

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