Danger in CFL bulbs?

The Daily Express is running a slightly hysterical article on the dangers inherent in using compact fluorescent light bulbs. Personally, given that it’s so reminiscent of previous nonsensical “electronic smog” scares, it tripped my bullshit detector, and then I came across this little gem:-

Experts in Britain insisted the risks were relatively small and urged people not to panic but admitted more research was needed.

Really? So there does actually seem to be some danger. Now that is worrying, as I’ve been using these buggerdly things for about 20 years, so if there is a risk, no matter how slight, what are the odds that it’s cumulative?

And remember when early compact fluorescents came sealed in a heavy glass globe (like those from Philips)? Did they know something then that’s being disregarded now?

We know there’s a danger if these things are broken, as government advice warns that anyone breaking a low energy bulb should ventilate the room and wait at least 15 minutes before clearing up the breakage using rubber gloves, according to the Express.

The advice goes on: “Put the broken pieces of glass into a plastic bag and seal it. You must not throw the bag in your normal household rubbish but take it to your local waste and recycling centre.”

Yeah, right! People are really not going to drive out to their recycling centre just to get rid of a broken bulb!

Explains the original protective glass globe, though – but was that the only reason for it?

I’ve never broken one of these things, but I have thrown a hell of a lot of dead ones (they become too dim after a year or so), out with my normal garbage – just like everybody else, I suspect – where they will, almost inevitably get broken, so what level of environmental hazard does an entire country’s – hell, an entire continent’s – waste CFLs create? Nobody seems to be saying.

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