"A foretaste of the delights we can expect in 2009, when the EU makes it compulsory for us to use planet-saving, low-energy light bulbs (CFLs, or Compact Fluorescent Lamps), comes from the website of Bar Harbour, a small town in Maine. Last month Brandy Bridges was inserting a CFL in her seven-year-old daughter's bedroom, to save on energy bills, when the bulb fell onto the carpet and broke.
"She rang the shop it came from, asking how to dispose of it, She was told that, because it contained mercury, she should ring the Poison Control hotline. They directed her to the Department of Environmental Protection, which immediately sent an official to take mercury readings. Around the carpet they were so high that they instructed her not to clean it up herself but to contact a local contractor, Clean Harbour Environmental Services.
"The firm inspected the bedroom and quoted her a minimum of $2,000 dollars to clean it up and remove the carpet. A month later the child's bedroom is still sealed off, while Mrs Bridges scrapes together the $2,000 and money to replace the carpet.
"Since this became a local cause célèbre, the DEP has changed its tune, saying that it is perfectly okay to clean up spilt mercury with sticky tape. Mrs Bridges, having first been told how dangerous that mercury was, is not convinced.
"And Brussels still has to work out how to dispose of all those billions of CFLs it wants to make compulsory in the EU from 2009, since its Restriction on Hazardous Substances directive last year banned the disposal of mercury into landfill."