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Actually, my son is an engineer and he and his boss looked into this as their company was changing to the flourescent bulbs because of energy savings. The issue is with the mercury dust if it breaks. After a call to the EPA and Poison Control, they found that there was less mercury in the bulb than a can of tuna. What you have to watch is if it breaks, cover it with a moist paper towel and clean the area well, like this. The dust will stick to the moist towel. This way, you cannot inhale it. They did say to dispose of it in a brown paper bag but they didn't specify a recycling plant.
We've been using these bulbs for a year and broke one. We cleaned as my son was taught. But if you have doubts, it's best that you call the EPA and Poison Control for yourself. Always better to be safe than sorry.
As far as media, you have to be careful who you listen to. My daughter works for ABC radio in Washington D.C. and they released these reports, too. The rebuttal shows contest that media tends to dramatize the issues when it's a slow news day. So ok, the bulbs do have mercury in them, but it's not enough to spend $2,000 on cleaning it up.
I don't believe everything the media reports - you have to investigate on your own, but the fact is even a little mercury is too much - it's nasty stuff. (I don't eat tuna either.) I'd rather use other options...we already have too many chemicals in our homes.
How can we be sure that we don't inhale any of the mercury dust the minute the bulb breaks? The dust can spread quickly...before we even have a chance to go wet down a paper towel to clean it up - and then can we be sure we got it all?
A good book about the "stuff" in your home you might want to read is The Secret House - The Extrodinary Science of an Ordinary Day by David Bodanis. Fascinating look at the "gremlins" of dust, bacteria, mold and other icky things floating around in your house. It's just a good thing we don't have microscopic vision...seeing all these things would make us sick!