" Each CFL bulb contains about 5 milligrams of mercury, a highly toxic and indestructible substance. It's like bulbs with asbestos. Billions of these bulbs will be everywhere. If one drops and breaks, you've got a problem, especially if you have small kids or pets roaming around."
Forbes also asks "if CFLs are so great, why do we need a law to force us to buy 'em?"
While researching this issue I saw this article that Forbes Refers to in his article . Brandy Bridges a resident of Maine was given an estimate of $2000 to clean up the increased mercury levels due to a broken CFL bulb.
The website of EnergyStar gives the following instructions if a CFL breaks:
How should I clean up a broken fluorescent bulb?
The following steps can be performed by the general public:
1. Open a window and leave the room for 15 minutes or more.
2. Carefully scoop up the fragments and powder with stiff paper or cardboard and place them in a sealed plastic bag.
Use disposable rubber gloves, if available (i.e., do not use bare hands). Wipe the area clean with damp paper towels or disposable wet wipes and place them in the plastic bag.
Do not use a vacuum or broom to clean up the broken bulb on hard
3. Place all cleanup materials in a second sealed plastic bag.
Place the first bag in a second sealed plastic bag and put it in the
outdoor trash container or in another outdoor protected area for the next normal
Note: some states prohibit such trash disposal and
require that broken and unbroken lamps be taken to a local recycling center.
Wash your hands after disposing of the bag.
4. If a fluorescent bulb breaks on a rug or carpet:
First, remove all materials you can without
using a vacuum cleaner, following the steps above. Sticky tape (such as duct
tape) can be used to pick up small pieces and powder.
If vacuuming is needed after all visible materials are removed, vacuum the area where the bulb was broken, remove the vacuum bag (or empty and wipe the canister) and put the bag or vacuum debris in two sealed plastic bags in the outdoor trash or protected outdoor location for normal disposal.
I have been a supporter of CFl bulbs but I would like to be assured that they are safe and do not have to pay $2000 in case I dropped them by mistake.