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.
Christopher Fountain at For What It’s Worth has this idea for disposing of used compact fluorescent light bulbs:
if voters from all over the country sent them to Washington – how about September 30th? – anonymously, we’d shut down the Capitol while hazmat teams ran around like chickens. I’m sending out a link to this suggestion to all my fellow whacko bloggers, in the hope that readers with dead, burned-out CFLs will save them and, after wiping off fingerprints, mail them on the 30th.
Please help spread the word: September 30 is Send Your Light Bulbs To Washington Day!
Compact fluorescent light bulbs contain mercury, a dangerous neurotoxin. The amount of mercury is large enough that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has published instructions on how to safely clean up a broken CFL bulb.
Russell Longcore writes at BestArticle.com:
If you break a CFL bulb, you’ll likely find that the proper cleanup could be very costly. And you’ll likely find that there is NO COVERAGE in your property insurance policy. Most policies have environmental cleanup exclusions. Even if your home is damaged by a tornado, hurricane or fire, the broken bulbs could cause you to incur thousands of dollars in environmental cleanup costs that your insurance policy will EXCLUDE.
If you have to clean up after even one broken CFL bulb, the cleanup costs will probably exceed a lifetime of the promised energy savings from using these dangerous contraptions.
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.
An Associated Press story about mercury pollution in the United States has this shocking news:
No fish can escape mercury pollution. That’s the take-home message from a federal study of mercury contamination released Wednesday that tested fish from nearly 300 streams across the country.
The toxic substance was found in every fish sampled, a finding that underscores how widespread mercury pollution has become.
Why should we care? Here’s why:
Mercury consumed by eating fish can damage the nervous system and cause learning disabilities in developing fetuses and young children.
Mercury is one of the most toxic substances on earth. One in six American children have been exposed to mercury levels so high that they are potentially at risk for learning disabilities, motor skill impairment, and short-term memory loss.
Compact fluorescent light bulbs are the fasting-growing source of mercury pollution in the United States. The mercury from one CFL bulb can pollute 6,000 gallons of water beyond safe levels for drinking. Each year, an estimated 600 million fluorescent lamps are disposed of in U.S. landfills, amounting to 30,000 pounds of mercury waste. Only 2% of compact fluorescent light bulbs are recycled.
Growing use of mercury-containing compact fluorescent light bulbs, which is being caused by Washington’s ban of incandescent light bulbs, will make this already terrible situation even worse. Show your government how much you appreciate its meddling by sending your used compact fluorescent light bulbs to Washington. They’re the experts. They’ll know what to do with them.
Kate Kelly’s very informative Huffington Post piece about compact flourescent light bulbs tells us this:
In 2008 industry experts reported that only 2 percent of all CFL bulbs were being recycled.
Fluorescent bulbs that are not recycled go into the trash that then gets dumped into a local landfill. As rain comes down on the landfill, mercury from thousands of CFLs seeps into the local water supply, which then exposes both animals and humans to more mercury in the environment.
What are the implications of this? Govi Rao, the chairman of Lighting Sciences Group, explains:
“If everyone recycled, fluorescent lights would be all right, but it took people 25 years to become accustomed to recycling paper. Why do we think people will start recycling bulbs more quickly? Short-term, the CFL bulbs save energy, but long-term — without recycling — we cause mutation of the human race by poisoning our environment with mercury.”
If you use dangerous compact fluorescent light bulbs, you have three choices: recycle, mutate, or send your light bulbs to Washington!
Proponents of compact fluorescent light bulbs often play down the fact that these light bulbs contain mercury, a dangerous neurotoxin. For example, Cindi Hinton dishes out this nonsense on Examiner.com:
They only contain 1.4 to 4 milligrams of mercury. That’s about the amount that would cover the tip of a ballpoint pen.
The amount of mercury that would cover the tip of a ballpoint pen is enough to pollute 6,000 gallons of water beyond safe levels for drinking, according to LightBulbRecycling.com. The Environmental Protection Agency thinks these light bulbs are so dangerous that they have issued guidance on “What to Do if a Fluorescent or Other Mercury-Containing Light Bulb Breaks.“
The EPA has also issued guidance on “What Never to Do with a Mercury Spill.” One of their instructions is “Never use a broom to clean up mercury. It will break the mercury into smaller droplets and spread them.” But what does Cindi Hinton say you should do if you have a CFL light bulb that breaks?
…gently sweep broken pieces into a jar.
Ms. Hinton should be ashamed of herself. Let’s hope her readers don’t follow her advice.