We all know that compact fluorescent lights are one of the best eco-lighting options out there. But the potential risk of a broken bulb is a real one – especially with that bit of mercury inside.
That risk became a reality for Tom Irvine, the chief executive of Florida-based Clear-Lite Holdings, after a lamp was knocked over in his 5-year-old son’s bedroom, breaking the C.F.L. bulb. Like a fly to a flame, his son rushed over to examine it. Tom’s solution was to create a safer CFL.
Clear-Lite created a new CFL bulb called the ArmorLite (SRP $7.99) that features a silicone safety shell preventing broken glass and mercury from escaping if the bulb breaks. But it’s not the perfect solution.
The silicone shell will require extra steps when it comes to disposal, and it will no doubt have an adverse affect on the lumen rating and color temperature of each bulb.
Though the disposal does remain a problem, another question that’s been up for debate is..how dangerous is that mercury inside? According to the Times blog, lighting scientists from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory wrote an essay, “Dangerous Mercury in C.F.L.’s? One Big Fish Story.” In it, they said “the most extreme C.F.L. breakage scenario” measured in the Maine study “only equaled the approximate exposure from a single meal of fish.”
“If simple common sense is used in disposing of the broken C.F.L., the resulting exposure to mercury is equivalent to about 1/50th of an ounce– a single nibble — of Albacore tuna!” the scientists added.
One thing’s for sure – I’m not giving up the CFL’s in my home. Or my weekly tuna melt.