Here is an excerpt from the July 2007 issue of "Environment News"
California Moves to Ban Incandescent Light Bulbs
Although environmentalists are advocating the use of compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) to replace incandescent ones, CFLs pose real environmental hazards, according to those same activists and public authorities.
As reported in an April 12 article in the Ellsworth (Maine) American, Brandy Bridges had the misfortune of breaking a CFL during installation in her daughter's bedroom. It dropped and shattered on the carpeted floor.
Aware that CFLs contain potentially hazardous substances, Bridges called her local Home Depot for advice. The store told her the CFL contained mercury and that she should call the Poison Control hotline, which in turn directed her to the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).
The DEP sent a specialist to Bridges' house to test for mercury contamination. The specialist found mercury levels in the bedroom more than six times the state's "safe" level for mercury contamination, 300 billionths of a gram per cubic meter.
The DEP specialist recommended Bridges call an environmental cleanup firm, which reportedly gave her an estimate of $2,000 to clean the room. The room then was sealed off with plastic, and Bridges began gathering finances to pay for the cleaning. Reportedly, her insurance company wouldn't cover the costs because mercury is a pollutant.
Given that the replacement of incandescent bulbs with CFLs in the average U.S. household is touted as saving as much as $180 annually in energy costs--and assuming Bridges doesn't break any more CFLs--it will take her more than 11 years to recoup the cleanup costs in the form of energy savings after dropping one light bulb on a carpeted floor.
You can read the rest of the story here: http://www.heartland.org/Article.cfm?artId=21592