Mercury Creating Recycling Problems in Energy Efficient Light Bulbs

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Although most of us have begun replacing all of our old incandescent light bulbs for the new, energy-efficient spiral bulbs, there has never been much discussion about the issues with recycling the new bulbs. For instance, you may not have heard that the European Union, and some states in the U.S., have made it illegal to throw the bulbs away in with regular trash. The mercury content in the bulbs is high enough that the manufacturers want consumers to instead mail the used bulbs back after they are done using them to keep the toxic materials they contain out of our landfills. Since it is incredibly unlikely that anyone will bother with this, CFL manufacturers Osram and General Electric are researching ways to reduce the mercury content of their bulbs – FYI – current bulbs currently contain about 3 milligrams of mercury, and they are aiming to reduce it to 1 milligram. Despite many CFL manufacturers saying that the 2 tons of mercury used per year in light bulbs is better than 50 tons of carbon formerly used to power incandescent bulbs, the issue is still one that may have more dire effects, and could eventually contaminate our soil and water. So even though you may be saving energy in the short-run, we should still be holding out for mercury free, efficient, incandescent bulbs that we should have available from Osram or GE in a few years. 

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