Tag Archives: cfl danger

Dim bulbs: Consequential failure

Here is an editorial from today’s Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:

The fate of Americans making conventional incandescent light bulbs shows the “green” future touted as U.S. manufacturing’s salvation is yet another faulty government premise.

Congress effectively outlawed incandescent bulbs as of 2014 (the measure was signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2008). The Obama administration portrays their leading “green” replacements — spiral-shaped compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs), which American engineers developed in the 1970s — as a bonanza for U.S. manufacturers.

Yet The Washington Post reports that when General Electric this month closes its last U.S. incandescent bulb factory in Virginia, that plant’s 200 workers won’t go on to make CFLs for GE. No, they’ll simply be jobless. GE can’t compete with Chinese makers of labor-intensive CFLs.

Compact flourescents indeed use less energy than incandescents. But their “green” benefits are as dubious as their benefits for U.S. manufacturers. The mercury they contain makes routine disposal a pain and a broken CFL practically a hazmat incident — hardly eco-friendly characteristics. They’re also vulnerable to temperature extremes and don’t emit light instantaneously.

Producing unintended negative consequences while failing to deliver promised economic and ecological advantages, compact fluorescent bulbs exemplify yet again just how off-target government “green” policies are.

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Light bulb socialism around the world

An editorial in the Washington Times describes the reaction of consumers to the European Union’s ban on manufacturing or selling incandescent light bulbs:

Consumers realize the warm glow of a cheap incandescent is superior in every way to the deadly, mercury-filled substitute being foisted upon them. In Finland, Helsingin Sanomat reported that the new ban has not resulted in a surge of sales for the new bulbs that the bureaucrats expected. Instead, 75-watt packages have been flying off the shelves as customers filled their closets, garages and attics with lighting supplies for the long term. Such hoarding has been the rule for more than a year. London’s Daily Mail gave away 25,000 of the 100-watt bulbs as a prize in a January 2009 contest. Der Spiegel reported that German customers left hardware stores with carts jammed with enough incandescent bulbs to last 20 years.

A similar ban on incandescent light bulbs goes into effect on January 1, 2012 in the United States. Maybe there’s still time to end the madness. It worked in New Zealand:

Two years ago, New Zealanders faced an imminent ban. The National Party, at the time in the minority, made overturning the light-bulb scheme a priority in its campaign against the ruling Labor government. The public responded favorably to the party that proclaimed that it “stands for freedom, choice, independence and ambition.” In December 2008, the National Party government overturned the light-bulb ban.

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CFL bulbs can burn down your house

The compact flourescent light bulbs that Washington is forcing you to use could burn down your house, unless you install a new wall switch for each bulb!

So when you read about all the money these bulbs will “save” you, make sure you factor in the cost of replacing all your switches. And don’t forget to factor in the risk of mercury poisoning and the cost of disposing of used bulbs — it’s illegal to throw them in your trash in most places.

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Risky new light bulb packaging rules

A Washington Times editorial highlights the federal government’s new regulations about light bulb packaging:

In the midst of an economic crisis, troubles in Afghanistan and various terrorist threats around the globe, the last thing on the minds of Americans is the light bulb. That didn’t stop the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) earlier this month from releasing 91 pages of regulations that will force manufacturers to revise their packaging and make costly compact fluorescent bulbs appear more appealing to consumers.

Congress ordered these changes in 2007 as part of its decision to force the dim, overpriced, mercury-filled product on a public that so far has refused to embrace it willingly. Beginning Jan. 1, 2012, bureaucratic rules will phase in, and 100-watt versions of Thomas Edison’s venerable invention will be first on the contraband list.

As if the risk from mercury exposure wasn’t bad enough, the FTC’s new labeling regulations pose another safety risk to consumers:

The FTC’s new labels dethrone the watt as the primary measure of a bulb’s effectiveness and replace it with the lumen as a measure of light output… De-emphasis of the watt on the new containers also will make it more likely that consumers could select the wrong bulb for a light fixture, increasing the risk of fire.

Safety, of course, is far from the minds of the feel-good regulators in Congress, who are pushing bulbs typically filled with up to 15 milligrams of mercury, a toxic substance. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, breaking one of these new bulbs can be a costly mistake. “If clothing or bedding materials come in direct contact with broken glass, then it’s time to throw them away. They’re gone for good,” the agency explained.

Send your used compact fluorescent light bulbs to Washington! There’s no better way to tell Washington to butt out. As the Washington Times says:

Congress already has taken over the design of shower heads, flush toilets and washing machines. It’s time to put an end to congressional nannying and repeal government intrusion into household plumbing and appliances.

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Canadian eco-terrorists target the United States

The Star-Ledger in New Jersey reports what looks like just another feel-good story about eco-nuts giving away free compact fluorescent light bulbs in a misguided attempt to save the planet:

A group of Bloomfield environmentalists will knock on township doors Saturday and hand out 2,000 free compact fluorescent bulbs.

But the story turns ugly when you get to the last sentence:

The bulbs were donated by Project Porchlight, a non-profit environmental organization based in Canada.

Now we’ve got “environmentalists” from foreign countries trying to endanger America’s health and pollute America’s environment by giving unwary Americans dangerous mercury-containing compact fluorescent light bulbs!  Where will this madness end?  How would Canadians like it if we distributed cigarettes and guns to children in Canada?

At a minimum, we should send some of our used compact fluorescent light bulbs to Canada’s parliament in Ottawa.

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More disadvantages of compact fluorescent light bulbs

Compact fluorescent light bulbs contain mercury, which is a dangerous and hazardous material.  But that’s not the only reason not to like them.  Gomestic.com lists some of the other disadvantages of compact fluorescent light bulbs:

  1. CFLs evolve and newer models are getting better and better all the time. Still, they are not as versatile as incandescent lamps, and can’t be used for every household requirement. For example, CFLs usually take some time between being switched on and achieving full brightness. This time is even longer as the CFL approaches the end of its life. Cold temperatures make the situation even worse, with some CFLs not even starting in cold weather.
  2. Another downside for CFLs is that their lifespan is shortened considerably when they are switched on and off within short time frames. Think of the light that comes on automatically as you approach your garage, and then turns back off after a few minutes. CFLs are not a good option for this or other light activated motion sensors.
  3. CFLs are also not very suitable for dimming. If you require a dimmer controlled light source, CFLs are not a good option. Dimming shortens a CFL’s lifespan considerably, and the dimming range is disappointing. You’d really be better off sticking with a regular, incandescent light bulb for dimmed rooms.
  4. CFLs, unlike incandescent lamps, emit ultra violet and infra red light. The ultra violet light may damage paintings. The infra red, on the other hand, may interfere with remote-controlled devices such as your TV – since these will interpret the infra red light as a signal.

It’s outrageous that Uncle Sam is banning incandescent light bulbs and forcing Americans to use dangerous and inferior compact fluorescent light bulbs.  So if you have a compact fluorescent light bulb that doesn’t work any more, send it to Washington. Let them know what you think about their meddling.

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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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