Monthly Archives: July 2009

Recycling won’t stop health dangers from light bulbs

According to Inhabitat.com, compact fluorescent light bulbs are a very serious health hazard:

Mercury from energy production and broken CFL bulbs seeps into soil and water and usually ends up in the bodies of fish. Animals or people who then eat those fish take on their toxicity, which can cause severe disabilities from stunted neurological development. It has also been speculated that high mercury rates can cause cancer, though we’ll need a few more years of increasing exposure to know for sure.

So, what are we to do?  How can we deal with this terrible problem?

For these reasons many governments and retailers are offering CFL recycling programs that safely handle the mercury instead of letting it build up in landfills. But just because recycling systems are in place doesn’t mean people use them. Most of our dumps are filled with recyclable or reusable items in the first place. I find it very unlikely that a person who throws away an empty water bottle will suddenly decide to drive to Home Depot to recycle an old CFL. People are lazy — and that’s something you can count on!

Come on, people!  Don’t be lazy.  Send your light bulbs to Washington.

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Canada is wising up to the dangers of compact fluorescent light bulbs

In the Vancouver Sun, Bronwyn Eyre explains:

Nothing better illustrates an instance of the cure being worse than the disease than our rush to buy mercury-containing, compact fluorescent light bulbs. Demonizing the traditional light bulb as energy inefficient, we’re embracing a product that apparently has truly lethal dangers.

Aside from the fact these bulbs apparently don’t last anywhere near the 10 years they’re supposed to, if one breaks in your house, you should, according to Health Canada: Ventilate the room for at least 15 minutes, use tape instead of a vacuum or broom lest you spread contamination, wear disposable gloves during cleanup, place broken material in a sealed glass container and remove rugs, making sure not to place them in the household trash. Maybe a call to the hazmat guys would not be far-fetched.

The conclusion:  “clearly, incandescent light bulbs are safer than compact fluorescent ones.”

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South Africans urged to be careful with compact fluorescent light bulbs

Take extra care when using new globes” is the warning issued by the Daily Dispatch in South Africa:

COMPACT fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) are generally welcomed as a more efficient alternative to incandescent bulbs – but environmentalists and health experts are now concerned about their long- term impact.

While the bulbs are extremely energy efficient, they contain mercury, a neurotoxin that can cause kidney and brain damage.

The amount in each CFL is only about 5mg – or just enough to cover the tip of a pen – but that is enough to contaminate about 30,000 litres of water beyond the safety limits set by international research.

And, says Berry Everitt, CEO of the Chas Everitt International property group, what really concerns environmentalists is the possible cumulative effect on water resources when increasing numbers of CFLs are dumped and the tubes are shattered, releasing the mercury to the environment.

“On the other hand, accidental breakage of globes in homes and workplaces is what concerns health experts, who warn that mercury contamination of a home or office should be cleared by experts to prevent mercury becoming a health hazard to residents or workers.”

Meanwhile, even intact CFLs could cause misery for people who have light-sensitive skin disorders, medical experts have warned. People with skin conditions such as lupus, eczema and psoriasis have reported that CFLs cause painful rashes, swelling and a burning sensation on their skin.

The increased use of compact fluorescent light bulbs — encouraged or mandated by government in many countries — is fast becoming a global health and environmental disaster.

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Europeans hoard incandescent light bulbs ahead of ban

Government interference with light bulbs isn’t confined to the United States.  The European Union is also banning incandescent light bulbs.  SPIEGEL ONLINE International reports the reaction from consumers:

As the Sept. 1 deadline for the implementation of the first phase of the EU’s ban on incandescent light bulbs approaches, shoppers, retailers and even museums are hoarding the precious wares — and helping the manufacturers make a bundle.

The EU ban, adopted in March, calls for the gradual replacement of traditional light bulbs with supposedly more energy-efficient compact fluorescent bulbs (CFL). The first to go, on Sept. 1, will be 100-watt bulbs. Bulbs of other wattages will then gradually fall under the ban, which is expected to cover all such bulbs by Sept. 1, 2012.

Hardware stores and home-improvement chains in Germany are seeing massive increases in the sales of the traditional bulbs. Obi reports a 27 percent growth in sales over the same period a year ago. Hornbach has seen its frosted-glass light bulb sales increase by 40-112 percent. When it comes to 100-watt bulbs, Max Bahr has seen an 80 percent jump in sales, while the figure has been 150 percent for its competitor Praktiker.

“It’s unbelievable what is happening,” says Werner Wiesner, the head of Megaman, a manufacturer of energy-saving bulbs. Wiesner recounts a story of how one of his field representatives recently saw a man in a hardware store with a shopping cart full of light bulbs of all types worth more than €200 ($285). “That’s enough for the next 20 years.”

Why are people in Europe hoarding incandescent light bulbs?  Their government has told them compact fluorescent light bulbs are better.  Aren’t they listeing?

…many have mocked the light bulb legislation as just another example of an EU bureaucracy gone wild. Holger Krahmer, for example, a Member of the European Parliament (MEP) from Germany’s business-friendly FDP party has accused the EU of imposing ‘light bulb socialism.”

In fact, in creating this legislation, the EU failed to address consumer preferences and the reservations of a number of other groups. For example, many have complained that the light emitted by a CFL bulb is colder and weaker and that its high-frequency flickering can cause headaches. Then there are complaints about the mercury the CFL bulbs contain, how there is no system for disposing of them in a convenient and environmentally friendly way, and how they allegedly result in exposure to radiation levels higher than allowed under international guidelines.

For some, the issue is also one of broken promises. For example, manufacturers of CFL bulbs justify their higher prices by claiming that they last much longer than traditional bulbs. But a recent test by the environmentally-oriented consumer-protection magazine Öko Test found that 16 of the 32 bulb types tested gave up the ghost after 6,000 hours of use — or much earlier than their manufacturers had promised.

And then, of course, there’s the issue of the light the bulbs emit. Many complain that the lights are just not bright enough and that they falsify colors. The Hamburger Kunsthalle, for example, recently made a bulk order for 600 incandescent light bulbs to make sure that it can keep illuminating the works it displays in the time-honored way.

The aesthetic issue is a powerful one. For Munich-based lighting designer Ingo Maurer, the CFL bulbs are ushering in a decrease in the quality of life. “We recommend protests against the ban, civil disobedience and the timely hoarding of lighting implements,” Maurer told SPIEGEL.

Maybe Europeans should send their used compact fluorescent light bulbs to Brussels.

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Shocking behavior by light bulb shills

Superior Lightning, which calls itself “Ft. Lauderdale’s leader in energy efficient light bulbs”, issued a press release titled “CFLs Made EZ” on July 24.  It extols the virtues of compact fluorescent light bulbs:

They help the environment: CFL lamps leave a much smaller eco footprint. Versus an incandescent bulb, a CFL saves over 2.000 times its weight in greenhouse gases. The reduced energy usage combines with increased efficiency makes CFLs a great way to help the environment easily and affordably….
They last much longer: Energy efficient CFLs last between 8 and 15 times longer than incandescent. This equals a lifespan of 6,000 to 15,000 hours. This longer life also means less waste entering our landfills.
It is clear that CFLs make economic and environmental sense. They provide a cheaper, longer lasting, energy efficient alternative to traditional incandescent lamps. Everyone should make the switch today.

There is not a single word in Superior Lighting’s press release about the dangers to our health and our environment from compact fluorescent light bulbs.  The mercury from one fluorescent bulb can pollute 6,000 gallons of water beyond safe levels for drinking. CFLs are now the fastest growing source of mercury in our environment. Mercury is one of the most toxic substances on earth; it can cause serious health problems, including nerve and kidney damage.

There is not a single word in Superior Lighting’s press release about how to dispose of these dangerous light bulbs.

Shame on you, Superior Lighting!

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An environmental catastrophe in the making

LightBulbRecycling.com quantifies the alarming environmental damages from compact fluorescent light bulbs:

The mercury from one fluorescent bulb can pollute 6,000 gallons of water beyond safe levels for drinking.

It only takes 1 teaspoon of mercury to contaminate a 20-acre lake FOREVER.

Each year, an estimated 600 million fluorescent lamps are disposed of in U.S. landfills amounting to 30,000 pounds of mercury waste.

If you put your used compact fluorescent light bulbs in your trash, you will make this terrible environmental problem even worse.  Depending on where you live, you may also be breaking the law.

You can buy a Compact Fluorescent Bulb Recycling Kit for $107.95 at LightBulbRecycling.com.  Or you can put your used bulb in a Ziploc bag, put the bag in a small box, and send it to Washington.  They’re the experts.  They’ll know what to do.

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Fast growing dangers from compact fluorescent light bulbs

At Beliefnet.com, Erin Manning reports this unsettling news about compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs):

CFLs contain mercury, which is especially toxic to fetal and early childhood brain development, and requires them to be properly disposed or recycled. Without proper recycling, bulbs are typically incinerated or landfilled. CFLs are now the fastest growing source of mercury in our environment.

Let’s repeat that: CFLs are now the fastest growing source of mercury in our environment! Why on Earth is Washington forcing us to use these things?

Please, don’t put your used CFLs in the incinerator or in the trash!  Dispose of them properly.  Send your light bulbs to Washington.  They’re the experts. They’ll know what to do.

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