Late on the night of Saturday the 4th of December I destroyed a CFL bulb (that is the technical term,  I call it an “Al Gore bulb”; I also refer to incandescent light bulbs as “Edison bulbs”), worked on cleaning it up that evening and briefly recorded my disaster, my behavior, and my derision of the artifact early on Sunday morning.

Now first I’ll deride again the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, which suggests that if break a bulb over your rug your must cut a large slice of your carpet out to have it taken away by angels in hazmat suits to some indescribable glowing section of heaven, sealed off from the rest of the afterlife.  They also describe the mercury in the spindle bulbs to be such that everything that touched the bulb effectively turns to ash, in other words each item is contaminated beyond human ability to recover.

Second we get to my point tonight, which is that although many light bulbs somehow get through their entire existence from creation and formation to disassembly and dissemination, dissolution, and disintegration (is that even possible?), these things usually end up shattering.  When the light bulb is only the incandescent light bulb all that means is that glass, paint, and metal filaments are the materials that we need be concerned about.  Just the same even as they burn out and become instant waste they shatter afterwords in the trash, in the landfills, and alternatively as functional light bulbs an accident occurs and they shatter becoming waste.  In many cases it is ineivatable although as I postulated the bulb shattering occurs outside a household.

Presuming that bulbs shatter while still in the potential for functionality and not merely after they burn out, (that is, the bulb falls while being changed and before it is inserted firmly in the socket, or the lamp falls and the bulb shatters then, before its life cycle terminates) it is logical that among incandescent bulbs that end like this are the  compact fluorescent bulbs.

In other words, lamps fall and bulbs shatter.  People drop light bulbs and they shatter.  Bulbs burn out and then people drop them and they shatter.

So what is my point?  That some people do not understand that in general these things will shatter.  In the case of CFL bulbs the materials are metal, plastic, glass, mercury, and phosphor.

That, my second point, is derived from the environmental “Green” blog I located when I attmpted to determine possible damage occurring from the relase of mercury into the environment but the breaking of a bulb, and in part just how much material is necessary to poison an individual human; the amount in a shatter CFL bulb will poison a small child or an unborn baby in the womb of a pregnant mother but is insufficient to harm me or most adults. Yet

Angie said,
May 17, 2007 at 4:45 pm
If you read the bulb information, CFL bulbs will last up to five years! Now, personally being a woman and all and having children myself, your unborn child will be in school before the bulb blows. If you’re that concerned over the bulb breaking, put an incadescent back into the socket and replace it later on. The likelihood of a CFL breaking is slim, unless you’re using pliers to get it out of the light socket. Your unborn child will reap the benefits of switching over to a CFL as you will be providing him/her with a cleaner, healthier environment! Still worried, have someone else change the bulbs for you.

Some people will believe that these things will just be safe.

Also, the point of the green blog’s article is thus

While there is trace amounts of mercury in CFL bulbs, and I do believe that there needs to be more public education from places that sell the bulbs to avoid them ending up in the garbage – I would like to note that the possible reduction in mercury emmisions from coal fired power plants outweighs the amount used to produce the bulb, over the bulbs lifetime.

Of course ultimately what they do not know is that perhaps there might be accumulative build-up of carcinogens.

What people have not considered is the accumulated time they are exposed to the tiny amount of mercury vapor in the every day use of these CFLs. One might not be able the trace cancer or other chronic diseases to the use of these CFLs yet, 20 years from now it will become a national health issue. And the country will then ban the use of these CFLs like we did for the DDT.
When was the last time you checked if Al Gore actually used these CFL bulbs?

Of course DDT is not carcinogenic and Al Gore is hardly an expert on anything.

In any case we are too trusting that the immediate expenses will mitigate long-term expense or damage when we should just guess, declare that we are guessing and record the results within a pre-set period of time.