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If you didn't already hear, you may want to know about the recent controversy over energy-efficient flourescent light bulbs, ESPECIALLY if you have small children living in your home. It turns out that these bulbs, that save big on electricity bills, contain mercury, a poisonous metal that used to be found in household items such as thermometers until health officials realized how hazardous it is. If you read the small print on the flourescents' boxes, you will find shockingly difficult methods for cleaning processes if a bulb should break. Some websites that I came across advised people to sweep it up and put it in a doubled-up plastic bag, while another advised that a glass jar with a metal lid was the only safe container for broken bulb fragments. This site also warms that a plastic jar is NOT a good substitute for a container.

Given the new light on fluorescents, it may be useful to think about where in your house fluorescent bulbs are safe to use, such as ceiling applications, and unsafe to use, such as floor or table lamp applications, where the bulb is in danger of breaking if the lamp is knocked over.

These are two articles I found with very different disposal methods (Be sure you read both articles and always use the most caution when dealing with hazardous materials. The plastic bag method of containing mercury does NOT seem to be the most effective method.): pros and cons of CFLs and the controversy

The benefits of fluorescent lighting in regard to energy savings is very positive. You should simply use caution, know the facts, and be very careful when disposing of your bulbs (especially because they tend to break if you throw them in with your regular trash). Call your local waste management and recycling centers to find out how you can safely get rid of them in your area. You can find the adverse health effects of mercury here.