AKRON - FirstEnergy Corp. customers have expressed concerns about the mercury content in compact fluorescent bulbs that the company planned on distributing to customers.
If the distribution goes forward, FirstEnergy is including a pamphlet with the bulbs indicating that bulbs should be properly recycled instead of put in the trash because they contain a small amount of mercury sealed within the glass tubing - enough to cover the tip of a ballpoint pen.
FirstEnergy, which owns Toledo Edison, said Home Depot stores offer free CFL recycling and some municipalities also have recycling programs.
According to the Energy Star government Web site, no mercury is released when the bulbs are not broken or not in use. CFLs use less electricity than traditional bulbs and decrease demand for electricity, the site says.
The National Resources Defense Council said the bulbs have much less mercury than other products. A watch battery has five times the amount of mercury and the "silver" dental fillings in people's mouths have 60 to 200 times more mercury.
FirstEnergy said this week it planned to give every customer two bulbs, starting Monday, and would charge customers 60 cents a month over the next three years.
State regulators, Gov. Ted Strickland, and others objected to the plan, questioning the cost and the fact that homeowners couldn't decide against getting the bulbs, so FirstEnergy agreed to delay implementation of the program.
Environmentalists argue it's important to factor in the mercury that coal-fired power plants emit in producing the electricity to power traditional light bulbs.
The amount used in a CFL is less than the amount of mercury emitted from the power plant.
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