The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has documented that compact fluorescent light bulbs are not safe to use in some locations, and cleanup of broken fixtures can involve cutting out sections of carpeting that are contaminated with mercury. Now a property manager that operates facilities in Washington and Idaho is telling tenants under a new program it will replace all bulbs with CFLs, without any warning about their dangers.
A spokesman at Rockwood Lodge Apartments in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, told WND that the new program is moving forward, although it is not mandatory.
The apartment spokesman referred WND to the company’s corporate offices at Rockwood Property Management for more details on the effort, but officials there did not return a call seeking comment.
However, one resident, whose name was withheld, told WND that while the company may say the program switching incandescent to fluorescent is not mandatory, “they did not tell people that in the letter.”
A letter distributed on residents’ doors “informs residents that Avista, our local power company, will enter into our apartments on scheduled days to switch the lighting,” the resident told WND.
“There is no warning about the dangers of mercury or the idea that opting out is available,” the resident said.
The tenant said when asked specifically, the apartment manager, “said he is aware of the dangers of mercury and acknowledges that the letter to residents does not disclose or warn of these dangers.”
As WND has reported, the EPA has confirmed breaking of the CLF fixtures can cause health hazards, especially for children and pregnant women, suggesting use of the bulbs over carpeted areas should be avoided.
If bulbs break over carpeted areas, the cleanup may require cutting out pieces of the carpet to avoid toxic exposures, the agency has reported.
Mercury is needed for the lamps to produce light, and there are currently no known substitutes. Small amounts of the toxic substance is vaporized when they break, which can happen if people screw them in holding the glass instead of the base or just drop them.
Mercury is a naturally occurring metal that accumulates in the body and can harm the nervous system of a fetus or young child if ingested in sufficient quantity.
For one study conducted in Maine, researchers shattered 65 compact fluorescents to test air quality and cleanup methods. They found that, in many cases, immediately after the bulb was broken – and sometimes even after a cleanup was attempted – levels of mercury vapor exceeded federal guidelines for chronic exposure by as much as 100 times.
WND founder Joseph Farah has written about the congressional act making the use of such bulbs mandatory by 2012.
“It’s no joke. It’s also not an urban myth … Congress has actually voted to ban the incandescent bulbs you are currently using all over your home. And President Bush went along with the plot and signed the bill – in broad daylight, I might add,” he wrote.
The apartment resident was concerned over the possibilities.
“I don’t see a clause in the letter that would protect my family and cover our medical expenses or other damages should a bulb break, but I am going to find out,” the resident said.
A study of the damages from mercury recommended that when a compact fluorescent breaks, consumers should get children and pets out of the room and ventilate it. It warned vacuums should never be used to clean up a broken compact fluorescent lamps. Instead, it recommends using stiff paper and tape to pick up pieces.
Some states require broken compact fluorescent light bulbs to be disposed of as household hazardous waste. Others ban disposal of bulbs in trash.
Compact fluorescents can contain from 1 to 30 milligrams of mercury, according to the Mercury Policy Project. The nonprofit cited a New Jersey study that estimated that about two to four tons of the element are released into the environment in the U.S. each year from compact fluorescents.