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CityLink Seattle

Don’t Dump Compact Fluorescents in the Garbage

These days many people are using compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) as an energy-saving alternative to traditional incandescent bulbs.

CFLs use one-quarter less energy than incandescent bulbs and are safe to use. CFLs do contain mercury, which can be harmful when they are disposed of improperly. Mercury is not released unless the bulbs are broken. (If a CFL breaks, your greatest risk is getting cut from glass shards and not from the very small amount of mercury.) Many broken bulbs in landfills can result in elemental mercury leaching into ground water where it is converted into methymercury and may eventually make its way into fish and shellfish. Eating fish and shellfish high in methymercury can cause serious health effects especially in fetuses, infants and children.

Visit the Take it Back Network for a list of places that will recycle your CFLs. You can also take them at no cost to any Bartell Drugs or Home Depot stores in the Puget Sound area, Seattle City Light’s North or South Service Centers, or a Local Hazardous Waste Management Program site.