Each CFL contains small quantities of mercury and other toxins. If a bulb breaks at home, its fragments are dangerous to bare skin and need special handling and cleaning up. Even vacuum cleaners won’t do because they might spread the contamination.
When tossed in the trash CFLs can cause unimaginable havoc in garbage dumps and landfills – harm that far offsets the benefits of energy saving. When mercury enters water sources, biological processes change the chemical form to composites more noxious than found in contaminated fish. Once in the food chain and subsequently in the body, CFL-origin mercury can impair developing fetuses, and children’s and adult’s nervous systems.
Fashions notwithstanding, some intrusive governments have slowly begun to take note of the CFLs’ dark underside. New Zealand, for example, has backtracked from banning incandescent lights due to concerns about safety and even the energy efficiency of the CFLs.
Doubts are also appearing in Germany. Some Green NGOs, such as the World Wildlife Fund, have dared to break with the political correctness that shielded CFLs from more critical appraisal. . . .