Wal-Mart to cut mercury content in compact fluorescent bulbs

As energy-saving compact fluorescent light bulbs move their way into the mainstream, concerns about their mercury content are spiraling up too. Soon, however, consumers will be able to find less-toxic CFLs for always low prices. Yes, Wal-Mart announced yesterday that its bulb suppliers will reduce mercury content by about one-third, eliminating 360 pounds of the metal if the store meets its goal of selling 100 million CFLs this year. Noah Horowitz of the Natural Resources Defense Council notes that “the energy savings delivered through the use of CFLs will actually reduce more mercury pollution from coal-fired power plants than is added through manufacture of the bulbs.” But whether you buy ’em at Wal-Mart or not, recycle your old CFLs instead of tossing them in the trash. Even though the U.S. as yet has no federal bulb-recycling program, tossing fluorescents is against the law in some states. And that’s a pretty lame reason to be thrown in the slammer.