Green shock: CFLs more dangerous than first thought

posted at 8:32 pm on March 19, 2008 by Ed Morrissey

The compact fluorescent lightbulb has plenty of supporters in the environmental movement, even while concerns have grown about their disposal. CFLs contain mercury, and when the glass breaks, it spreads the toxic dust in the area. Boosters had previously dismissed concerns over the issue, but now researches worry about the collective effect their massive disposal will have on landfills once they start failing in large numbers:

Compact fluorescent light bulbs, long touted by environmentalists as a more efficient and longer-lasting alternative to the incandescent bulbs that have lighted homes for more than a century, are running into resistance from waste industry officials and some environmental scientists, who warn that the bulbs’ poisonous innards pose a bigger threat to health and the environment than previously thought. …

As long as the mercury is contained in the bulb, CFLs are perfectly safe. But eventually, any bulbs — even CFLs — break or burn out, and most consumers simply throw them out in the trash, said Ellen Silbergeld, a professor of environmental health sciences at Johns Hopkins University and editor of the journal Environmental Research.

“This is an enormous amount of mercury that’s going to enter the waste stream at present with no preparation for it,” she said.

Even a single CFL could provide toxic levels of exposure for mercury. One contains five milligrams of mercury, which would be enough to contaminate 6,000 gallons of drinking water. Low-mercury models have about one-sixth of the amount, but that’s still enough to contaminate 1,000 gallons. It makes the CFL one of the most toxic components of a household, one that causes kidney and brain damage when people get exposed to enough of it.

What happens when an incandescent bulb hits the floor? Simple: sweep it up, and try not to step on a shard of glass with bare feet. Here’s how people need to handle a broken CFL:

1. Open a window and leave the room for 15 minutes or more.
2. Shut off the central forced-air heating/air conditioning system, if you have one.
3. Carefully scoop up glass fragments and powder using stiff paper or cardboard and place them in a glass jar with metal lid (such as a canning jar) or in a sealed plastic bag.
4. Use sticky tape, such as duct tape, to pick up any remaining small glass fragments and powder.
5. Wipe the area clean with damp paper towels or disposable wet wipes and place them in the glass jar or plastic bag.
6. Do not use a vacuum or broom to clean up the broken bulb on hard surfaces.
7. Immediately place all cleanup materials outside the building in a trash container or outdoor protected area for the next normal trash.
8. Wash your hands after disposing of the jars or plastic bags containing cleanup materials.
9. Check with your local or state government about disposal requirements in your specific area. Some states prohibit such trash disposal and require that broken and unbroken lamps be taken to a recycling center.
10. For at least the next few times you vacuum, shut off the central forced-air heating/air conditioning system and open a window prior to vacuuming.
11. Keep the central heating/air conditioning system shut off and the window open for at least 15 minutes after vacuuming is completed.

Er, that’s quite a commitment for a lightbulb. I have several of these around the house, and I had no idea that a break could require such an intense cleanup. Like others who bought these products, I hoped to save a little energy and drive down replacement costs.

And guess what — I can’t even throw these in the garbage, broken or unbroken. As MS-NBC reports, Minnesota requires that I take any CFLs to a disposal center certified to handle them. I didn’t know that until tonight, and I have no idea where such a center might be. It does make sense, though, considering the disposal issues involving mercury.

In other words, we have opted for a product that has much more impact on our environment and could turn households into toxic-waste sites to replace a product that uses a little more energy, a change driven ironically by environmentalists. What’s next — lead containers to replace Tupperware?


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Saw this coming months ago…

Won’t find a CFL in my house… because of kids and pets… and because we used to have to deal with small amounts of mercury and such from Vacuum Tubes back when I first joined the US Navy…

Dark ages electronics… but I remember the clean up procedure, and why we had to do it.

Romeo13 on March 19, 2008 at 11:01 PM

And the idiots in Congress even want to go so far as to ban regular incandescent bulbs!

CP on March 19, 2008 at 10:51 PM

Didn’t they already do that?

edgehead on March 19, 2008 at 11:02 PM

Everything the green idiots do, ends up costing us a fortune in time, money and even lives. They show their intellegence (stupidity) in every thing they do.
DDT cost millions of lives in illness and in lower food production. Ethanol will cost billions in taxes and will evenually cost millions of lives because of food being diverted to fuel. It also pollutes more than oil ever thought of. It takes 1,700 gals of water to make one gal of ethanol plus all the fertilizer pollution to grow the corn. And that’s just a small bit of what is wrong with Ethanol. Once the CFLs are all you can buy, that mercury is going to be EveryWhere! Schools, public buildings, shopping malls, corner store, hospitals you name it. How careful are these places going to be with broken bulbs?

None of these idiots think past the ends of their noses! They do not think they just FEEEEEL! If it feeeels
right, if it saves a spotted owl, if it saves a snail darter, if it saves a tree (unless it blocks a solar panel!) it has to be good for Mother Earth right?

Proudvet on March 19, 2008 at 11:05 PM

When my kids want to visit a friends house, I guess I am going to have to ask if they have any CFLs in the house and if so, I won’t be able to let them go. They will be free to come to my house where I have guns, but I won’t risk sending them to a death trap. We need CFL control.

King of the Britons on March 19, 2008 at 11:11 PM

You all are obviously against change. /Obama

smellthecoffee on March 19, 2008 at 11:11 PM

Skip the CFLs – wait for the LED (light emitting diodes) bulbs ( or sometimes called SSL (solid state lighting)). They are pricey now that will change. SSL bulbs are more efficient than CFL bulbs, no nasty chemicals, last much longer and are almost unbreakable. These CFL bulbs are nothing but trouble.

PoeMangonel on March 19, 2008 at 11:13 PM

CFLs = WMDs HaHaHaHaHa!!!

I propose we send all of our burned out CFLs to the Pope of Global Warming: His Holiness The Goracle. Let him figure out what to do with them.

Sanctimonious boob.

realitycheck on March 19, 2008 at 11:14 PM

Well, well, well………….. what do we have here?


“The question of whether we can be more lighting efficient by using compact fluorescent bulbs needs an in depth analysis of how much energy is required to make and recycle the bulb. It’s actually quite complex. Here’s why.”

I offer up, this intersting read:

“It’s a hugely important question since the wrong policy decisions are being made right now by politicians who just don’t know.”

Seven Percent Solution on March 19, 2008 at 11:17 PM

4shoes on March 19, 2008 at 10:42 PM

Its not just wrong but it is very shortsighted. Environmentalists never think, they just react based on their emotions.

Then cleanest no-emmision energy source has been around for years and they dismiss it because it is scary.

Meanwhile windpower is killing all of these birds (and they bitch about how we need to stop that).

Corn based fuels actually uses more energy to produce then it creates.

Solar power is no-where near meeting the energy demands.

Oil works well but we cant drill in ANWR because of some stupid reason, as a result they bitch about gas prices being so high (nor do they understand the value of the dollar vs foreign currency may impact oil prices)…

Preaching to the choir I know but I wish one environmentalist would grow a brain.

F15Mech on March 19, 2008 at 11:26 PM

4shoes on March 19, 2008 at 10:42 PM

Its not just wrong but it is very shortsighted. Environmentalists never think, they just react based on their emotions.

Then cleanest no-emmision energy source has been around for years and they dismiss it because it is scary.

Meanwhile windpower is killing all of these birds (and they complain about how we need to stop that).

Corn based fuels actually uses more energy to produce then it creates.

Solar power is no-where near meeting the energy demands.

Oil works well but we cant drill in ANWR because of some stupid reason, as a result they complain about gas prices being so high (nor do they understand the value of the dollar vs foreign currency may impact oil prices)…

Preaching to the choir I know but I wish one environmentalist would grow a brain.

F15Mech on March 19, 2008 at 11:28 PM

DOH! Sorry for the double post

F15Mech on March 19, 2008 at 11:29 PM

I’ve tried fluorescents and I dislike them on several levels. LED’s may be the future. In the meantime, you can’t beat incandescent and halogen lights. Candles work well too.

CliffHanger on March 19, 2008 at 11:42 PM

Hmm interesting…I have never owned, bought or touched a CFL bulb. I just buy regular bulbs… you know, the normal ones…

ketket on March 19, 2008 at 11:44 PM

Incandescent bulb is a bright idea.
CFL bulb is a dim idea.
Environment is the new religion.
Foolish things are done in the name of the environment.
Millions of CFL bulbs crushed in a landfill site contaminates the water table (around every city).
Everyone will get their very own Love Canal.
It’s for the environment.
After many decades there are still houses that have coats of lead/paint, which is detrimental to children.
Tree hugging, granolahead environmentalists want you to put CFL bulbs in every room of your house for the environment. Yup, the health and safety of your kids is being sacrificed on the alter of the environment.
Looking on the bright side…at least you are not offering your children to Baal.

Zorgon on March 19, 2008 at 11:53 PM

The very day Rush talked about this my wife broke one of these where we have our cat’s food and litter box. Not saying I’d miss the cat much, but I’m wondering if my wife should get checked out.

Nice going, Congress. We’ll be seeing a repeal of the the incandescent ban shortly.

Happy Easter, everyone.

macummings on March 19, 2008 at 11:56 PM

…broke one of these where we have our cat’s food and litter box…

As a cat hater/dog lover maybe there is a use for CFL’s after all.

F15Mech on March 20, 2008 at 12:03 AM

Skip the CFLs – wait for the LED (light emitting diodes) bulbs ( or sometimes called SSL (solid state lighting)). They are pricey now that will change. SSL bulbs are more efficient than CFL bulbs, no nasty chemicals, last much longer and are almost unbreakable. These CFL bulbs are nothing but trouble.

Bear in mind that (semi-) metallic semiconductor LEDs are typically made of gallium arsenide phospide (GAsP). But it’s in solid form, and typically secured in tough plastic. Newer organic LEDs have just a little metal in them, but it’s in an organic form and some kinds do use nasty elements.

The best news is that the (semi-) metallic semiconductor LEDs will probably be good for at least five years, and that’s liable to improve with time.

njcommuter on March 20, 2008 at 12:25 AM

I use regular, earth heating, light bulbs. Anyone who doesn’t, needs to rethink how susceptible they are to suggestion and send me a dollar.

2Tru2Tru on March 20, 2008 at 12:27 AM

Dang, I almost bought a few more the other day. I’ll stop with the one I have now.

aikidoka on March 20, 2008 at 12:28 AM

For a moment I thought this was a post on the Canadian Football League.

The_Freeze on March 20, 2008 at 12:30 AM

For a moment I thought this was a post on the Canadian Football League.

The_Freeze on March 20, 2008 at 12:30 AM

Meh…….. humor, I love it!

Seven Percent Solution on March 20, 2008 at 12:42 AM

HEY F15Mech, watch it! Cats are people too! I’ll sic PETA on you! Got a cat and dog both and I’ll take a cat any day. Dogs are soooo needy!

Proudvet on March 20, 2008 at 12:57 AM

Minnesota requires that I take any CFLs to a disposal center certified to handle them. I didn’t know that until tonight, and I have no idea where such a center might be.

Study your state laws carefully Ed…particularly the changes made to accommodate the heavier usage of these bulbs.

Currently, many states consider most hazardous waste generated in the home to be unregulated or minimally regulated since it is “household waste”. What if they decide to regulate these more thoroughly, and you have to pay big money to dispose of them? It isn’t cheap.

Also consider you driving these bulbs to a disposal center. Check out the DOT regulations for transporting waste. What happens if the bulb(s) break in your car?

As for turning off your air or heat and opening a window for 15 minutes while vacuuming up the mess. Would you do this in Minnesota Ed at the height of a nice winter blizzard?

Considering Congress passed most of these laws, those nitwits should have thought of a little of this before passing this latest fiasco.

Oh, and check out the toxic effects, and the regulations concerning this, if you have young children in your home.

91Veteran on March 20, 2008 at 1:19 AM

There’s one person to blame for the idiotic CFL mandate: President Bush. He signed the “energy bill” that doesn’t actually generate any energy and contains a grab-bag of foolish payoffs to special interests and ideologues (e.g.: more ethanol subsidies, CAFE increase). I don’t know if this bill has a subsidy for Hooters Air like the last one, but you get the idea. Instead of showing some spine (vetoing the bill and explaining to the public why he wouldn’t sign), he decided to imitate the liberals and “do something” regardless of whether it’s the right thing and damn the true costs to society. The man truly is a chip off the old block: this is exactly what his father did when he got rolled by the Dems and signed the ADA and other foolish legislation like the “luxury tax” on cars and boats. Between Bush’s betrayal of conservative domestic policies at nearly every turn and Condi’s convincing imitation of Madeleine Albright at State, January 2009 can’t come soon enough for me.

Travis Bickle on March 20, 2008 at 1:20 AM

We should require Liberals with big ideas to take and pass an elementary-level exam before allowing them to implement or even suggest ideas on anything. Of course Liberals irrationally believe that anyone with actual knowledge of a subject is not qualified to discuss it, so we should not be surprised that most of their ideas fail.

Among their “greatest hits”:

1. The unnecessary deaths of over 60 million people (and counting) from the unwarranted banning of DDT.

2. The silly and entirely unnecessary banning of freon 12 (proven absolutely safe, efficient) and the substitution of poisonous refrigerant substitutes which are much less efficient at a probable cost of tens of billions worldwide, and untold environmental damage because of much lower efficiency (more electricity, more waste, more heat).

3. The worldwide banning of PCB’s on the strength of a rumor started in Japan and propagated (with no scientific evidence) by Scandinavian liberals. Cost is again in the billions due to needless effort to placate these dolts and replace them with substitutes which are inferior in every way. When a large electrical transformer starts a big fire, thank the Liberals.

4. Silicone breast implants. Bad…Deadly….now Good again… Actually risked people’s lives by encouraging unnecessary surgery.

5. Let forests burn instead of harvesting trees and clearing brush. Result: pollution, destruction, loss of life.

6. Convert foodstuffs into ethanol instead of using them as food. Results so far: food prices skyrocket, foodstuffs involved quadrupled in price, ethanol pollution now a problem, each gallon of ethanol takes more than a gallon of gas to produce so no oil is “saved”, pipelines don’t work anymore, cars fail due to damage by ethanol, cost of government skyrockets due to irrational ethanol subsidies, etc, etc. Coming soon: higher prices for everything made from chemicals, including clothing and shelter as well as food. Result: people starve.

…..I could go on and on, but I’m tired of typing…

Conclusion: Liberalism is a mental disease characterized by fits of self-delusion, self-destruction, and irrational actions. You can’t reason with a Liberal because he feels that he has been blessed with perfect knowledge about how things work (especially things he has no actual knowledge about) and how you should live.

landlines on March 20, 2008 at 1:24 AM

So old fashioned full size fluorescent tubes have never been a disposal problem? It’s only the compact ones?

LEDs will soon eliminate the issue anyway.

BL@KBIRD on March 20, 2008 at 1:28 AM

Who would of thunk it.

Johan Klaus on March 20, 2008 at 1:37 AM

Delusions of granduer.

Johan Klaus on March 20, 2008 at 1:39 AM

Who would of thunk it.

Johan Klaus on March 20, 2008 at 1:37 AM

Best Dr. Seuss line ever.

F15Mech on March 20, 2008 at 1:50 AM

That said…

My favorite book by Dr Seuss is Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

F15Mech on March 20, 2008 at 1:56 AM

In other words, we have opted for a product that has much more impact on our environment and could turn households into toxic-waste sites to replace a product that uses a little more energy, a change driven ironically by environmentalists.

Although I appreciate eco-snob just desserts as much as the next red-stater, I sure as hell wasn’t motivated by environmental concerns. CFLs save me hundreds of dollars a year.

Mark Jaquith on March 20, 2008 at 2:27 AM

Proudvet on March 20, 2008 at 12:57 AM

“Dogs look up to you. Cats look down on you. Pigs treat you like equals.” — Winston Churchill

That is my general problem with cats.

Cats generally have the attitude that they are above people.

So watch yourself you just made the entire cat world angry by saying they are people too. :)

F15Mech on March 20, 2008 at 2:41 AM

In Australia they are banning incandescent lighting. In the USA they are attempting the same. On a more mundane point – the CFLs get manufactured in China, the incandescents get manufactured in the US.

Never mind. Next year the government will be pushing LED lights instead of CFLs. Great, they will ban the CFLs because of the toxic effect then mandate LEDs. Change your lights twice in three years.

I wonder if GE manufactures the LED as well as th CFLs. Good marketing campaign.

davod on March 20, 2008 at 4:45 AM

PS: Sorry for the double post but, am I the only person in the world who doesn’t like the hue cast by flourescent lighting?

davod on March 20, 2008 at 4:47 AM

a change driven ironically by environmentalists

and the law of unintended consequences strikes again…

oldleprechaun on March 20, 2008 at 5:17 AM

I’m only familiar with LED Christmas lights and I HATE the look of them! They are the ugliest, eeriest, deadest looking lights I’ve ever seen. Do the LEDs for in the home give off light that looks like incandescant light?

As for the CFLs, don’t forget that they also can cause seizures and I think I read that they can give migraines, too.

Is there hope to reverse the ban that Congress already passed? I’ve already started stocking up on regular bulbs, but I know one day I’ll run out (duh).

-Aslan’s Girl

Aslans Girl on March 20, 2008 at 6:09 AM

davod, no you’re not the only one who doesn’t like the look of florescent lighting. They claim that it looks like daylight, but to me it’s a blue hue so it’s really like a bright cloudy day. I much prefer the warm, sunshiney look of incandescent.

Aslans Girl on March 20, 2008 at 6:11 AM

My favorite book by Dr Seuss is Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

Anyone who doesn’t say “The Sneetches” is raaaaacist!
/Obama

rhodeymark on March 20, 2008 at 6:14 AM

Hey I am sold on the new breed of CFLs. They come in warm and cool light types and save me a ton of money because I like to leave the on all the time.

What people fail to understand about wattage output is that it cost you twice.
once when you burn the light and then again when you have to pump the X number of watts of thermal gain out of your house with your air con.

TheSitRep on March 20, 2008 at 6:52 AM

We pretty near got our lead paint problem taken care of so we need to put our collective heads in our collective a$$e$ and contaminate our homes with another toxic substance.
Lets make it mercury this time. Ya, that should do it.
Nuclear power would eliminate the necessity to conserve electricity, but hey, why let logic enter into it.

leanright on March 20, 2008 at 6:52 AM

Glad to see this article. I broke one (lit at the time)
Didn’t realize the danger of inhaling elemental mercury.
I was ill for about four months. Mercury is a potent
central nervous system disabler and is very poorly eliminated
from the body.
You can easily look up on the net the symptoms of mercury
poisoning, they are not pleasant and the best thing is your
GP probably won’t help you much. This is too new a recurrence
of an old affliction for the medical community to have caught on.
If your kids get poisoned, they’ll probably just feel and
act really miserable but not be able to articulate what
is happening to them.
There are a class of drugs called “chelators” that bind
to heavy metal atoms and help the body eliminate them better.
About the only one you’ll be likely to get (on the net)
is something called EDTA. I found it helpful.
Six months have passed and I’m better now.
These things are stupidly dangerous. I will not have them
in my house again.

davem on March 20, 2008 at 7:00 AM

While nearly everyone has good points, the dangers of mercury are much exaggerated; ESPECIALLY BY THE ‘EXPERTS’.

I’ve personally ingested, inhaled and absorbed more mercury and mercury compounds in my life than is in, literally, more than a million CFLs. (Long story of many unusual occupations, hobbies and accidents)

Ever had a metal dental filling? You have the equivalent mercury content of at least 10,000 CFLs in your mouth.

Did you wear contact lenses regularly at any time prior to 1989? If you did, you probably put enough mercury containing compound in your eyes every week to fill 10 CFLs.

Prior to about 1980 about every third accident prone kid’s mother slathered the equivalent mercury of 5 CFls on just about every ‘boo boo’.

Eat much Tuna? (or several other types of fish)? A can of tuna will have nearly the same amount of mercury in it as A CFL.

Not only are there a lot of lies and hype about the dangers of mercury, adding to the confusion is that people are using miligram when they mean microgram…. (Including several EPA and other scientific studies:) They typed mg (which means miligram, when them should have typed µg, (if you lack a character map on your computer or are just too lazy to use it, you use mcg) when you mean microgram. I’ve read dozens of reports, studies and media hype articles that were off by a factor of one thousand too high because of that ‘little’ error.

I think I’m down to owning a total of 5 incandescent bulbs spread between home, office and workshop. I vastly prefer CFL light (especially in the 5000° to 6500° Kelvin ‘full spectrum’ range.) Since I do a lot of color critical work PLUS my eyes getting old and tired, It is a necessity, as well as saving me probably fourty dollars a month in electric bills, which is a nice little bonus.

LegendHasIt on March 20, 2008 at 7:02 AM

Will a broken CFL be something I would have to report on a disclosure form if I sell my home? Can I be sued if I don’t disclose this information?

Bicyea on March 20, 2008 at 7:16 AM

I throw my broken CFLs in Al Gore’s front yard. It’s only a 2 hour drive from here.

manfriend on March 20, 2008 at 7:58 AM

OK, you buy all the mercury containing health hazard light
bulbs you want, but don’t even think about trying to legislate to force me to do that. If I have to quickly buy a lifetime stock of good old incandescents then that is what I will do.

Yes, if you are buying a new home or selling yours, I suspect
mercury contamination will become one of the things you need to certify under law.

By the way, Global Warming isn’t happening. Recent data,
both atmospheric and oceanic show cooling has started. There is no reason to be concerned about burning fossil fuels.
It may even be helpful.

davem on March 20, 2008 at 7:59 AM

I have had two of these break in my house. They were a couple of the first ones that came out, not the low mercury models they have now.
.
.

Well, I am going to die one day. Perhaps my two breaks will knock off few days on the time I have left? At this point, why worry? I am going to have another cup of coffee that probably has pesticide residue on the beans and of course there are likely tons of drugs in the tap water I used to make it and of course there are all sorts of hormones and drugs in the milk. Did I mention I think we have asbestos in the building, mold in the crawl space and lead paint and the air outside looks a little hazy??? I just tested for radon–we are all clear on that!–well at the office–not my house–seems I have been breathing radon at unsafe levels for the last 12 years at my home.

USBB on March 20, 2008 at 8:08 AM

This is scaremongering. If Al Gore is trying to scare people into using CFLs, we need to scare people into using incandescents? Please.

Do you know that there is enough chlorine at your local swimming pool to kill thousands? Yeah, but you need to properly distribute it. Yeah, if you properly distribute mercury from a CFL, you could raise a lot of ground water to the EPA limit – which is set with plenty of room for error.

Yeah, mercury is toxic. However, it is extremely volatile. Mercury is liable to evaporate, so open a window and get some fresh air inside while you clean it up. Putting it in a plastic bag isn’t a bad idea – makes life easier on the people running the landfill. The rest of the listed steps are insane overkill – I might consider that for a radioactive spill or something else equally carcinogenic.

I use CFLs. I am typing this by CFL light. However, if you want to avoid mercury, I’d suggest supporting nuclear energy as a replacement for coal – coal power is the main source of toxic mercury. Stopping smoking would also help

OmegaPaladin on March 20, 2008 at 8:11 AM

I throw my broken CFLs in Al Gore’s front yard. It’s only a 2 hour drive from here.

manfriend on March 20, 2008 at 7:58 AM

You are on to something. Send them to Al.

Wade on March 20, 2008 at 8:13 AM

I’ve gotten rid of everyone of these pieces of junk in my house. As Cap’n Ed said, I had hoped to save a little energy and maybe a few pennies. They made no difference whatsoever. I went back to the incandescent and will continue to use them until the new law outlawing them takes effect in 2010. We no longer live in a free country but a People’s Republic where the government can tell you how much water to use when you flush, what kind of light bulbs to use, what kind of fuel to burn in your car. And we keep on voting in the same ol’ same ol.

abcurtis on March 20, 2008 at 8:16 AM

Anyone who thought these things are a good idea to distribute to the general public is a complete idiot.

You can’t break the stupid things or they cause a huge mess.

Not buying one – ever. I’d rather burn torches.

NoDonkey on March 20, 2008 at 8:25 AM

“Nothing is more important than saving the environment. Not even your lives.”

ZK on March 20, 2008 at 8:45 AM

I like the CFLs for some rooms in my house…not for the light they provide, which is generally less, but because some of my light fixtures go through incandescent bulbs about every two weeks due to startup power surges. CFLs don’t suffer from this problem.

When I paint and need ‘color-critical light,’ though, I use incandescent ‘daylight’ bulbs in my work lights.

James on March 20, 2008 at 9:03 AM

How could they not be dangerous, CFL (compact fluorescent lightbulbs) and CFL (chloral flora carbons) — they were doomed before they even got started. (Apologies to anyone who has already made that connection).

srhoades on March 20, 2008 at 9:26 AM

Have the environmentalists gotten one thing right? Do they ever fully analyze the consequences of their actions? Ever? What a bunch of fools.

melanzan on March 20, 2008 at 9:32 AM

I have calculated the amount of mercury in these new lights that tout to be environmentally friendly-saving energy costs.

Let the environmentalists beware. The amount of mercury in these bulbs is equal to the amount in a rectal thermometer.

But applaud their ingenuity, these new bulbs can server two purposes light up a room or your rear when you have a fever.

MSGTAS on March 20, 2008 at 9:38 AM

Everything the green idiots do, ends up costing us a fortune in time, money and even lives.

You left out “greater harm to the environment”. Nothing is good enough for them, so they block any “partial” improvement, meaning we’re stuck doing the same old thing and polluting even more.

For example, had they not blocked the development of nuclear power, we would have no need for all those coal powered electrical plants. And the “electric car of the future” would likely have been a reality by now because we would have the “unlimited electrical power” that was promised us in the 70′s. Not to mention how nice it would be if we were not dependent on foreign oil in the current political climate.

As I’ve said before, the “green idiots” have done more harm to the environment than any other group on the earth.

taznar on March 20, 2008 at 9:44 AM

What people fail to understand about wattage output is that it cost you twice.
once when you burn the light and then again when you have to pump the X number of watts of thermal gain out of your house with your air con.

What TheSitRep fails to understand that in Minnesota, the Mall of America has no heating plant. They rely on the thermal gain of the incandescent lights. What TheSitRep fails to understand that many of us, for a majority of the year, have no such thing as “excess” heat in our homes, and desire the thermal gain byproduct of our lights. Heck some of us would appreciate some global warming to reduce the months of sub-freezing weather.

MTinMN on March 20, 2008 at 9:58 AM

This is very timely as I just replaced my CFL’s with regular light bulbs not just for the mercury hazard (I have two kids) but the light quality was so poor. It takes about a minute to brighten up and the light isn’t full spectrum and looks like a morgue.

The average American’s light bulb’s only account for about 8% of their bill anyways. So if you’re a Gorebot or still just into conservation, I’d recommend other steps like tinting your windows, using shutters, getting an on-demand water heater, adding insulation, installing low flow shower heads, etc…

fudgypup on March 20, 2008 at 10:03 AM

The damn things burn out too quick at my house. I bought some rated for 7 years, and they were done in 7 months.

Back to the drawing board.

saiga on March 20, 2008 at 10:15 AM

I bought CFL’s for the house. Three 3-ways burned out after two months…. the over head CFL spot light in the kitchen burned out in 4 months. I’m already stocking incandescents. And there is a nut job in Eagan, MN ( where I live) that wants us to turn our lights off at the end of April to conserve energy( another stupid environut practice). I’m turning on every freaking light I have in protest.
Oh and for those who say I have faulty lamps….. not possible.

MNDavenotPC on March 20, 2008 at 10:26 AM

What TheSitRep fails to understand that in Minnesota, the Mall of America has no heating plant. They rely on the thermal gain of the incandescent lights. What TheSitRep fails to understand that many of us, for a majority of the year, have no such thing as “excess” heat in our homes, and desire the thermal gain byproduct of our lights. Heck some of us would appreciate some global warming to reduce the months of sub-freezing weather.

MTinMN on March 20, 2008 at 9:58 AM

What MTinMN rightly states is that heat gain for many people is a good thing but what MTinMN fails to understand is that TheSitRep Lives in Houston and we almost never need to heat our homes but when you do the least efficient and least economical way to do so is with electricity.

TheSitRep on March 20, 2008 at 10:28 AM

Ok, look, I hate AlGore as much as the rest of you.

But don’t be afraid.

I replaced every bulb in my house with CFLs about a year ago.

I used to change at least 8-10 bulbs every month before this change. It was as irritating as taking out the garbage.

Now life is now much simpler. I have not needed to replace a single CFL bulb!

I only paid about $1.00 each and they last 7 years.

Man up folks.

faraway on March 20, 2008 at 10:30 AM

Conclusion: Liberalism is a mental disease characterized by fits of self-delusion, self-destruction, and irrational actions. You can’t reason with a Liberal because he feels that he has been blessed with perfect knowledge about how things work (especially things he has no actual knowledge about) and how you should live.

landlines on March 20, 2008 at 1:24 AM

This is becoming more and more apparent with the advent of the internet. In the pre-internet days these people could only influence a very few they came in contact with. Now with the internet they are able to spread their tunnel vision delusions world wide and connect with others that were at one time contained. The bigger problem is that far too many news organizations have been taken over by them leading far too many politicians to believe their ravings.

jmarcure on March 20, 2008 at 10:36 AM

I use CFL’s in about half my household lights, just to save money. Interestingly, because I am an environmentalist (and also a conservative), when one burns out, which is not often, I have to drive about 8 miles across town to the disposal site, which, in Raleigh, takes about 25 minutes. How much gas do I use doing that, as well as the time?

I started using them in the store I run for a really, really big company, and the auditor told me to stop, because of the danger. OSHA apparently does not like them in businesses.

William Teach on March 20, 2008 at 10:42 AM

Welcome to the Church of the Gorical. These wackos will not be happy until we are all living in caves with lighting by candle. Working in management in the 60s we knew of the dangers of mercury tubes. We briefed all our employees on the safe measures needed to dispose of these lights. The Church of the Gorical will not be happy until it controls every aspect of your life.

pueblo1032 on March 20, 2008 at 10:50 AM

Does anyone else think these things look like robot IUDs?

Dr. Charles G. Waugh on March 20, 2008 at 10:54 AM

Man up? I don’t need to…….. I think it takes a man to realize these things are crap and is willing to say so in the face of this eco fanatical time we live. Go save China and India. Sorry, when ever I see terms like ” man up” or “dude” I go nuts. Must be my PTSD (Sarc off)

MNDavenotPC on March 20, 2008 at 11:02 AM

TANSTAAFL.

N. O'Brain on March 20, 2008 at 11:17 AM

So a compact fluorescent light bulb contains 5 milligrams of mercury. Elemental mercury is very volatile, and can easily evaporate if a bulb is broken in a home or in a landfill, and the toxic limit for mercury in air is 0.2 milligrams per cubic meter, meaning that a broken bulb will contaminate 25 m3 of air to the toxic limit. This is about the volume of air in a room 10 ft x 10 ft x 8 ft high, or slightly smaller than the average bedroom.

So, if you break a CFL in your bedroom, you’ve got to open the window and not sleep there that night. If you break a CFL in your bedroom in winter, the warm air goes out the window with the mercury, then you have to burn something to heat the room back up again. How much energy has been saved?

If Congress were smart, the prohibition of incandescent bulbs will go the way of the prohibition of alcoholic beverages. But that might be asking too much.

Steve Z on March 20, 2008 at 11:18 AM

Environmentalists are morons and have hurt the world and environment more than anyone else.

Decades of no nuclear power protesting has lead to a most industrial nations in the world running off coal power. Coal miners die… Clean inexpensive electricity was replaced by expensive dirty power. Who killed the electric car? Environmentalists, that’s who.

In an effort to curb petroleum usage, we now have ethanol…. fermented corn power. The price of corn has tripled world wide… cultures who use corn as a staple food are literally starving to death. Dairy prices have doubled. The effects of ethanol production has even raised the price of everything connected to the dairy industry.

Now we have CLF bulbs with mercury.

Next will be hydrogen power… and if you want to talk about global warming as a reality, hydrogen power will create it. Water vapor IS the primary greenhouse gas.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greenhouse_gas

CO2 has had little if any effect on the climate. Historically, CO2 has been a reactant to the natural changes in earth climate, not the cause. Water vapor IS the primary greenhouse gas. What’s the output of a hydrogen engine? That’s right, water vapor. When the nutty greenies get their hydrogen power they will actually cause global warming for real.

dougless on March 20, 2008 at 11:19 AM

I’ve got a few around the house. I’ve got the old incandescent ones mostly though.

If people think I’m going to drive to some disposal center to pitch a friggin light bulb, well, I don’t know what to tell them. I guess if it’s close by I will.

In five years they’ll be saying this theory was all wrong anyway.

Screw it.

Metro on March 20, 2008 at 11:44 AM

CFLs are worse than TERRORISTS!!!!

tmitsss on March 20, 2008 at 11:51 AM

CFL’s: I did the math on the energy savings, and it came out to something like 5 years just to pay for the conversion. LED technology is coming right along, I’ll wait, and stay mercury-free, thank you.

-

deesine on March 20, 2008 at 11:55 AM

Funny thing is, this is all gonig away in a while. LED light bulbs will soon be at a cost factor to make them attractive to the general public. You already see them in your new car taillights, you can also buy they for your older cars at auto parts stores. Energy efficient, cool, and NON TOXIC.

There is a reason while the military had a clean up procedure for broken florescent tubes in the 1970′s.

gstrickler on March 20, 2008 at 11:58 AM

tmitsss on March 20, 2008 at 11:51 AM

And Hitler!

lorien1973 on March 20, 2008 at 12:07 PM

When I need extra light in my house, I just throw another baby seal in the fireplace….What??

rjkitch13 on March 20, 2008 at 12:09 PM

wait…isn’t there the same exact mercury in the fluorescent lights that are above the heads of millions of office workers in America?

Seriously, why is this even news? Why is everyone NOW so afraid of something they have not been afraid of for nearly 100 years. The fundamentals of the bulb that is probably above your head at the office (and always has been) and the CFL’s are identical. You are simply passing a current through an excited mercury vapor in an inert gas. These bulbs have been filling land fills for decades and nobody complains. But attach the word “green” to it and now it falls under intense scrutiny.

Seriously, I don’t know who’s dumber. The people who really think that CFL’s are a silver bullet that will save the world, or the people who think they will bring about the end of it.

I acted on a hunch and did 5 minutes of research in Wiki and howstuffworks.com before this post. Is it too much to ask journalists on either side of the aisle to do the same?

I have these in my house, and they save me damn near $40/month.

beefytee on March 20, 2008 at 12:15 PM

Oil works well but we cant drill in ANWR because of some stupid reason,

F15Mech on March 19, 2008 at 11:26 PM

The first presidential candidate that promised to sign executive orders to allow oil companies to begin drilling in ANWR, off of both coasts and anywhere else we can find oil, would win in a landslide.

We no longer have the convenience to argue these asinine environmental issues. It’s a national security issue now.

labrat on March 20, 2008 at 12:18 PM

OK, both sides are making good points, maybe they are better for the environment, maybe they are dangerous to bring into homes.
I challenge anyone to make this argument, however:

You do not have the right to put incandescent bulbs in your house.

That is what the government has done to us with the bogus “energy bill” recently passed.
Let me choose whatever damn light bulb I want to put in my house. How is it your business?

redshirt on March 20, 2008 at 12:22 PM

I challenge anyone to make this argument, however:

You do not have the right to put incandescent bulbs in your house.

That is what the government has done to us with the bogus “energy bill” recently passed.
Let me choose whatever damn light bulb I want to put in my house. How is it your business?

redshirt on March 20, 2008 at 12:22 PM

Anyone who argues against this point should be banned from the website….and from life.

beefytee on March 20, 2008 at 12:30 PM

Let me choose whatever damn light bulb I want to put in my house. How is it your business?

redshirt on March 20, 2008 at 12:22 PM

It is the business of the same people who can take you house and give it to someone who will pay more in taxes.

Wade on March 20, 2008 at 12:37 PM

I use CFL’s in my house not because their efficient, use less power, or even look different. I just got tired of changing incandescent bulbs all the time. CFL’s just last longer then incandescent bulbs.

I’m just a lazy American and Proud of it.

Kini on March 20, 2008 at 12:50 PM

I see parallels to nuclear energy. The reactor does a great job of producing the desired commodity (electric power) with a small amount of very hazardous waste that requires special handling. CFLs do a great job of producing the desired commodity (light) with a small amount of very hazardous waste that requires special handling.

Yet somehow, nuclear power is taboo and CFLs are on their way to being mandatory.

I’ll_Never_Understand_Liberals.

innominatus on March 20, 2008 at 12:55 PM

I have these in my house, and they save me damn near $40/month.

beefytee on March 20, 2008 at 12:15 PM

Excuse me, but this would mean that you saved 1000 KWH per month by changing your light bulbs???

“It may be so,
I do not know…
It sounds so awfully queer…
I hate like heck to doubt your word..
But THAT STUFF DON’T GO HERE!!!

landlines on March 20, 2008 at 12:57 PM

Great. A whole thread, and less than five cogent posts. SteveZ attempted to analyze the problem, but left out the vapor pressure of mercury, instead assuming that all of the liquid mercury will spontaneously leap into the air.

In order to harm yourself with the mercury in a CFL, you would have to break it in an airtight box the size of your head, and keep your head in the box more than 8 hours. I have done this calculation before. This is science. Mercury is no more dangerous than any other chemical, provided that you understand its properties, which the vast majority of people do not.

I also note with ironic glee the amount of faith that many people have in the EPA or OSHA. These organizations (especially the EPA) excel in mandating for worst-case scenarios, which is easier than trying to make people understand the real risks involved in handling chemicals.

chunt31854 on March 20, 2008 at 1:04 PM

I’d rather make the choice myself as to what bulbs I use. There are way too many guvmint officials telling me what I can do and Bush signed some crazy law outlawing 100w incandescent lamps in four years. WTF? Is that his compassionate conservatism screwing me again?

JAW on March 20, 2008 at 1:06 PM

I think CA has mandated all light bulbs be switched over to these dopey flu. bulbs. I use them but only because it lowers my utility bills, not because it’s “safer” or “better” for the environment.

Or maybe it was Congress that passed the law. Yeah, like, how are they going to enforce such a stupid law?

Weebork on March 20, 2008 at 1:09 PM

I have quite a few CFL bulbs in my home. I started using them WAY back when they first came out, and were touted for SAVING MONEY. NOT as an Environmental tool.

They did indeed save us money. At my old house we had quite a few 60 and 100 watt bulbs in use, and replacing all of them with CFL lights saved us an average of about $50.00 each month, more during the winter when we had the lights on more often.

We did have more than one break due to my butterfingers dropping them, and all we ever did was sweep them up and wipe up the dust with a damp cloth. I really never worried about mercury exposure because I had heard that MOST of the mercury in these bulbs is not in the glass bulb, but in the transformer (the fat white base of the bulb) just like a regular fluorescent bulb.

So are you saying that the mercury is in the bulb itself? That sounds rather strange to me, because I’ve never heard of the BULB having mercury, JUST the transformer. Perhaps we can get some clarification on this point?

wearyman on March 20, 2008 at 1:12 PM

There is a very comprehensive, and fair, discussion of CFLs here

There is much more to this than just Mercury.

For example, they can’t be used outside or in damp areas.

They overheat and fail, sometimes catastrophically, when used in a completely closed, or even just recessed, fixture.

That’s a lot of fixtures that will have to be changed.

Because of something called the “power factor” they are not as efficient as the greenies are claiming, either.

CFLs do have a place, but outright banning of incandescent lights is stupid

dinasour on March 20, 2008 at 1:17 PM

I’ve got a line on incandescents out of Asia that come filled with DDT.

BL@KBIRD on March 20, 2008 at 1:26 PM

Environmentalists are such, er, um, how should I put it…”F”ing MORONS. (My brother-in-law is one – debate over.) This “cure” is worse that an disease. As Hippocrates said, “First, do no harm.”

jimbo2008 on March 20, 2008 at 1:29 PM

I’ve been using CFLs for about a two years now, and am seeing failures of about 1 in 4. And yes, one lamp fell over and the resulting THUD and SMOKE PUFF was startling.

desertdweller on March 20, 2008 at 1:41 PM

Oh, my reasons for using CFL were economic, not environmental. They are supposed to last longer, and I put them in some high fan lights that are hard to reach for starters.

desertdweller on March 20, 2008 at 1:43 PM

I have them all over my house. Saves a wad of cash on my electric bill. I make regular trips to the dump (they handle these things where I live) for other stuff, so I’ll dispose of them that way. I have had them installed for three years and not one has failed or broken (knock on wood, don’t want my cat to grow dorsal fins or anything). I’d love to see the data on Mercury emissions at the power-plant because of the considerable energy savings vs. mercury in CFLs. I’m open to enlightenment. I guess that makes me a Commie Pinko, but I’m happy with my decision so far.

INFDL on March 20, 2008 at 1:45 PM

Also, if you break one of these over a 6,000 gallon vat of water, don’t drink all of it.

INFDL on March 20, 2008 at 1:48 PM

In order to harm yourself with the mercury in a CFL, you would have to break it in an airtight box the size of your head, and keep your head in the box more than 8 hours.
chunt31854 on March 20, 2008 at 1:04 PM

Maybe…but to seriously HURT YOURSELF with a CFL bulb, you only have to break your skin with the glass, which is coated with a poisonous phosphorescent compound. There is no such compound, and no comparable danger from conventional incandescent bulbs.

You are unable to see the forest for the trees. The issue is consumer safety: nobody cares if you require expensive medical treatment for mercury poisoning or phosphorous poisoning if it is unnecessary medical treatment caused by these stupid CFL bulbs and it would be easily avoided by NOT USING THEM!

Amazing how “environmentalists” think they are smarter than the entire body of engineers and scientists who actually work in the illumination industry and have explored all of these issues and tradeoffs in detail for well over 100 years.

landlines on March 20, 2008 at 2:10 PM

Excuse me, but this would mean that you saved 1000 KWH per month by changing your light bulbs???

“It may be so,
I do not know…
It sounds so awfully queer…
I hate like heck to doubt your word..
But THAT STUFF DON’T GO HERE!!!“

landlines on March 20, 2008 at 12:57 PM

I will say that Con edison of NY does things a certain way. They don’t actually come out and read your meter…it’s based on estimates, then they read and correct as necessary, so it’s possible that part of my savings are in corrections, however, January bill was $40 more than February bill. It may all average out to far less savings.

beefytee on March 20, 2008 at 2:16 PM

Excuse me, but this would mean that you saved 1000 KWH per month by changing your light bulbs???

landlines on March 20, 2008 at 12:57 PM

This would be based on the actual price one is paying per kilowatt. I pay 11¢ per kWh (10.31 being the US average). Based on the statement of saving $40 per month, that’s only 363 kWh in savings. Taking into acount the local sales and other taxes,mine are 2.01%, this number will less- around 356 kWh. My average monthly usage over the last 13 months is 1844 kWh. This would constitute a 19% saving over the course of a year. So his statemnet of saving $40 per month is very plausible.

Zaire67 on March 20, 2008 at 2:21 PM

I think CA has mandated all light bulbs be switched over to these dopey flu. bulbs

Once this is complete, the plan in to enact laws dictating proper disposal methods. The resulting costs will make using CFLs ten times more expensive to use than the old incandescent bulb. I think its time to start a company in California that handles the disposal of these things. I may end up brain-damaged, but I’ll be rich!

taznar on March 20, 2008 at 2:27 PM

Question: If you throw one of these bulbs at someone, would it be considered assault with a deadly weapon?

This laundry list of cleaning steps is a nightmare. I say mail the bulbs to every member of congress who voted to support them.

madmonkphotog on March 20, 2008 at 2:29 PM

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