Maine Law Targets CFL Mercury

Bill will make manufacturers lower mercury content, pay for safe recycling
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted May 29, 2009 3:09 AM CDT
Compact flourescent bulbs use much less energy than incandescent ones and last longer, but the mercury they contain can cause environmental problems.   (©mattbjrs)
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(Newser) – Maine has become the first state in the nation to tackle the problem of mercury in low-energy light bulbs, the Boston Globe reports. A new state law requires manufacturers to reduce the amount of the toxic metal in the bulbs and pay for the cost of safe recycling, a measure expected to add up to a dollar to the cost of each compact fluorescent bulb.

Mercury vapor from broken bulbs can harm babies, children and pregnant women, and the bulbs can pollute the environment if dumped in the trash. "Today almost all of the bulbs are going in the trash, where they can break. People aren't aware of the exposure risk," said one campaigner, who favors wider adoption of the bulbs. Similar bills are pending in Massachusetts and Vermont.