Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2008

Inconsistent message on CFLs

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I read newspaper advertisements by the Division of Solid Waste Services, Hazardous Waste Program of Montgomery County on the disposal of compact fluorescent lamps.

I find this program to border on the ludicrous.

I understand that conventional incandescent light bulbs will be banned in the near future in favor of these CFLs. The problem is that CFLs contain mercury, which is hazardous to our health. We have introduced into our very homes a product that when broken (which has happened and will continue to happen on a regular basis) becomes a hazard to our health and only with great difficulty can be removed for disposal.

It is replacing a product that presented no such problem. Now we are being told how to dispose of them when they burn out.

I have several questions:

‘What will be done with them at the trash transfer station to prevent the bulbs from breaking and the mercury from getting back into our environment?

‘Why would any sane person suggest the use of such a product, when we have only recently banned the use of mercury thermometers, because of the mercury that may escape through breakage?

‘Why is it OK to allow mercury right into our home where our children live and play when many are fighting the use of coal in coal-fired power plants (far away from our homes) because coal contains a small amount of mercury?

The ad mentions that CFLs are energy efficient. Well, the use of coal also has the benefit of making us independent of oil imports. Why is the environmental community so inconsistent in its approach to pick and choose which programs to support?

Morris Altschuler, Rockville