Yes, you read that correct! You can be arrested for throwing away the popular CFL, or compact florescent light, bulbs. Imagine taking your trash out at night and having a police officer take you away in handcuffs. It is currently illegal to throw away CFL bulbs in your normal trash cans in many states; more are projected to follow suit. Those states are California, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Minnesota, Ohio, Washington, and Vermont.
The state mandated CFL recycling stems from harmful mercury released when bulbs are broken. Experts are concerned if bulbs are sent to landfills the mercury will accumulate and contaminate the ground. then eventually seep into our water ways. According to Green Energy Efficient Homes, half a teaspoon of mercury can make a stream or small lake toxic. This means water is not potable and the fish cannot be eaten.
In addition to polluting the planet, mercury is dangerous to humans. Some adult health effects are memory loss, tremors, vision loss, and numbness of extremities. In small children, developmental issues such as mental retardation, cerebral palsy, deafness, blindness, walking, and speaking- says the NRDC. The most vulnerable individuals are pregnant women and children. With increasing improper CFL disposal, mercury poisoning will become more common.
You may be thinking what do I do with my CFL bulbs? Here are some options to find recyling near you:
Contact your local waste management department
Go to Earth911, type in your zip code, and what you need to recycle
Check with your local Ikea, Home Depot, IKEA, and Ace Hardware store
Call the bulb maker and see if they offer any programs
Purchase a light bulb recycling kit and do it yourself
So avoid getting arrested, polluting the environment, and potentially poisoning your community- recycle your CFL bulbs!