Monthly Archives: January 2012

                    A Mercurial Twist


cfl warming children


Washington Times Editorial January 27 2012
Obama’s Twisty Light Bulb Logic

President Obama said in his State of the Union address, “I will not back down from protecting our kids from mercury pollution.” Of course, no one is asking him to back down. There is no movement in favor of exposing kids to mercury poisoning. It was like boldly proclaiming opposition to organized dog fights.

Mr. Obama was obliquely referring to his support for the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) rule issued late last year by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In a December presidential memorandum, Mr. Obama claimed that “by substantially reducing emissions of pollutants that contribute to neurological damage, cancer, respiratory illnesses and other health risks, the MATS Rule will produce major health benefits for millions of Americans – including children, older Americans and other vulnerable populations.” MATS is the most expensive EPA rule revision in history, and compliance will cost power plants $10-18 billion a year. These costs will be passed directly to consumers.

Some critics have charged that hyping mercury poisoning in MATS was just a cover for the EPA to ramp up its regulatory assault on the coal industry. Trace amounts of mercury from coal-fired power-plant emissions affect a small number of Americans, chiefly those who live near the emissions sources.

At the same time, however, the Obama administration has been trying to force Americans to accept even greater mercury risks by insisting that traditional incandescent light bulbs be replaced with compact fluorescent lights (CFLs).

The mercury vapor in CFLs is at a much more dangerous concentration than anything coming out of power plants. The associated risks are magnified because the toxic vapors and dust from a broken bulb would be contained in a room or enclosed area.
The same EPA that is sounding the alarm about mercury emissions from power plants has written a detailed guide explaining how to respond to a broken CFL. It involves, among other things, evacuating the room in which the breakage occurs, shutting down central heating and air conditioning, airing out the room, carefully collecting bulb fragments and dust with rolled up duct tape, and placing all cleanup materials in airtight bags in a protected area outdoors pending proper disposal.
Who knew that dropping a light bulb would instantly turn a home into a HAZMAT zone?

If Mr. Obama had his way, fluorescent lights would be in every home and school in America.
The administration was set to enforce the ban on traditional incandescent light bulbs that passed in 2007 and was to begin this year, but a provision was included in the budget bill passed in December that would prohibit the Obama administration from spending any money to enforce the light-bulb ban. Energy Secretary David [Steven] Chu mocked this as “a choice that continues to let people waste their own money.” But it might also let them better protect their kids.

Remember when you are handling a CFL that it contains potentially deadly poisons. You can recognize the bulbs because they are twisty, like Mr. Obama’s policy logic.


Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

CFLs, Costly and Dangerous:              Can Cause Fires, even Explosions

Thank you to Light Bulb Choice for this!

Their news post, in turn links to the Edmund Contoski authored document
(pdf, from the Science & Public Policy Institute, alternative source link here).

Edited blog post copy:

Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFLs) Are Costly and Dangerous Can Cause Fires – Even Explosions!

Table of Contents

pg 03 Fires and Explosions from CFLs
pg 04 The PROVEN Dangers of Mercury in CFLs
pg 06 Other Hazardous Chemicals in CFLs
pg 07 False Information on CFL Costs and Bulb Life
pg 09 Recycling Costs, Health and Environmental Dangers
pg 10 What About LEDs?
pg 11 Other Problems
pg 12 Is Government Really Smarter Than the Consumers?


Mercury—The danger is far greater than admitted.
CFLs Save Money? — The numbers are false!
CFL Bulb Life — Wildly exaggerated
CFLs = Environmental Hazard

The latest recall:
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission on May 12, 2011 issued a recall order for sixteen models of Telstar and Electra brand CFLs in twelve different wattages: “Hazard: The light bulbs can overheat, posing a fire hazard to consumers.” The recall order involved 317,000 light bulbs.

More about Ed Contoski’s work can be seen on
CFL life warranty  and  CFL fire risk  sections.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Light Bulb Phaseout Worse Than Reported

  January 12 Investor’s Business Daily article, with highlighting.



Environmentalism: As the light bulb phaseout goes into effect, you may be surprised to know the law also requires their already-costly replacements to be phased out too.

That’s right, new light bulb efficiency standards set by Washington also mandate light bulbs become 70% more efficient than classic bulbs by 2020. The only bulbs that meet that higher standard are light-emitting diodes, or LEDs. And they are even more expensive than compact fluorescent lamps.

CFLs will replace incandescent bulbs to meet the first level of efficiency that’s been widely reported in the media. By 2014, household bulbs using between 40 and 100 watts will need to consume at least 28% less energy under a stupid law passed by Congress in 2007.

But a little-noticed provision of the law, known as the Energy Independence and Security Act, also sets a second efficiency goal of 70% that must be met nationwide by 2020.

LEDs already exceed that goal. But an LED replacement for a 50-cent, 60-watt incandescent bulb costs as much as $60. No doubt costs will drop by 2020.

But it’s yet another unnecessary federal mandate looming on the horizon for consumers — many of whom are perfectly happy with their old bulbs.

The federal regulation effectively bans those bulbs by halting their manufacture. Major bulb makers have already made the plant investments to follow the law.

As of Jan. 1, traditional 100-watt bulbs no longer meet standards, and are no longer stocked in stores. Starting next January, the 75-watt incandescent bulb also will be phased out, followed by the 60-watt version in 2014.

The Energy Dept. claims each household can save $50 a year in electricity by replacing 15 traditional bulbs. But the costs of the new CFLs exceed those savings. And they’ll only get worse with LEDs.

Here’s what’s really crazy: Two years before it banned classic bulbs in favor of mercury vapor CFLs, Congress passed a law banning mercury vapor streetlights. Under the Energy Policy Act of 2005, manufacturers cannot make or import ballasts for mercury vapor lights after Jan. 1, 2008.

According to the act, mercury vapor security lights are being phased out to “protect the environment” and to “promote energy efficiency” in lighting.

Utility companies across the country have been replacing mercury street lamps with high-pressure sodium fixtures or metal halide fixtures, which are twice as efficient as mercury vapor and possibly safer.

The government warns that the amount of mercury in one CFL bulb is enough to contaminate up to 6,000 gallons of water beyond safe drinking levels. The same agency that’s pitching them as a green alternative requires households perform a small hazmat operation to dispose of them upon breakage.

The Energy Dept. recommends numerous steps to “reduce exposure to mercury vapor from a broken bulb,” including shutting off the air conditioning for “several hours” and even removing pets from the contaminated room. It advises picking up debris with duct tape, enclosing it in a glass jar and taking it to a special recycling center for proper disposal.

So the geniuses in Washington are removing mercury from outside the home, while adding it inside. And making us all pay for it. Yet another bright idea from Congress.



Filed under Uncategorized

Meet Mr Stinkypants!

From the Freedom Light Bulb blog,
commenting on CFL subsidies and replacement programs in relation to a recent cartoon that also takes up how manufacturers are profiting from the ban on cheap incandescents.




Always interesting when support against light bulb regulations comes from unlikely sources…

Green and sustainability practicing Montana software engineer turned farmer, Paul Wheaton, has interesting Permaculture based forums that also happen to have good coverage of light bulb issues.

Also see his comprehensive CFL article, well linked with videos etc.

And don’t miss his just completed (December 2011) Mr Stinkypants Cartoon on how manufacturers profit from the ban!



The cooperation between light bulb manufacturers is no fairy tale, reflected in the Phoebus cartel: GE, Philips, Osram and others cooperating for several decades to keep lifespans down.
That is why even today the standard incandescent lifespan is 1000 hrs. Recent German research shows how a special “1000 hr lifespan committee” punished those who manufactured any longer lasting bulb. Communist long lasting bulbs were blocked for Western markets….


Unsurprising then, to see renewed manufacturer cooperation in later years, regarding both subsidised CFL programs and indeed regulations that more forcibly ensures that more profitable “energy saving” bulbs are sold in place of the old cheap incandescents.


This kind of manufacturer cooperation with public authorities has gone way beyond the USA or the EU:
Note how the world’s 2 biggest light bulb manufacturers, Philips and Osram/Sylvania, are involved in the UN sponsored worldwide switchover program, en.lighten. As part of that, a recently announced “Efficient Lighting Toolkit” will be available in 2012, which will “provide comprehensive guidance to countries on how to transform their markets to energy efficient lighting”.
More in a later blog post.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Lamp Recycling Information




Given our emphasis on CFL safe disposal and recycling:
How does one find out more about it?

As they say themselves on their website, lighting manufacturers, through their trade association, National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) developed to provide a one-stop source of information about recycling lamps (the term used in the lighting industry to refer to all types of light bulbs).
This follows their earlier extensive study (pdf) on the subject.

Also see the extensive EPA information on recycling, linking to waste collection agencies, participating retailers, and much else of interest.

This Earth911 search may (or may not!) automatically show the collection center nearest your computer IP address.
Their CFL recycling page is here

[ However, the useful information on these sites should also be taken with a pinch of salt as regards their defence of “ballpoint pen tip” mercury amounts, toxicity of course is not just connected to quantity but also proximity, as again when they compare CFL mercury to coal mercury emissions etc, the latter being under 90% EPA reduction mandates anyway.
See, the CFL mercury issue:  Breakage — Recycling — Dumping — Mining — Manufacturing — Transport — Power Plants ]


This post will probably be updated and in part copied to the information section, also with the related Facebook page.


1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized