On Earth Day we can celebrate another green change. Throughout the entire state, residents can now take their burned out compact fluorescent lights, or CFLs, to any Ace Hardware Store for free recycling.It is a project that is funded by Xcel Energy and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.CFLs use close to seventy five percent less energy than the typical incandescent light bulb. The downside to these energy saving products is that they contain a small amount of mercury.Mercury is a necessary part of the bulb. It is the silver colored metal that creates visible light. And, while mercury can be toxic to humans, if it is handled properly there is no threat.During a recent interview, Patrick Hamel of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment pointed to the fact that there is really a very minimal amount of mercury in each bulb.If the main concern is mercury and mercury in the environment, then its much better if we use CFLs because if we are using an incandescent bulb we are putting more mercury into the environment because of the coal fired power plants that provide power for the lights, said Hamel. That's where we get our energy and if you use an incandescent bulb it uses more energy and you are putting more mercury into the environment that way.Ace Hardware was ready to become part of this program. Customers have been asking about recycling the bulbs.Its kind of been a problem without a solution for a period of time. These (CFLs) became really popular and everybody said whoops, these need to be recycled, said Kirsten Pellicer, an Ace Hardware store owner.Now you will be able to bring them to our stores and we will be able to package them and send them for recycling, said Pellicer.Recycling is the best way to handle CFLs, but if you happen to break one, there are some easy steps to take for clean up. According to the Hamel, we must use caution and not vacuum the area. Vacuuming a broken CFL can release the mercury vapors into the air.For more detailed information on how to clean up a broken CFL and how the recycling program works visit the following websites.
EPA Mercury ConcernsAce Hardware