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Gingersnap
09-04-2009, 11:19 AM
The fluorescent light bulb boogeyman
Experts say the super efficient bulbs - soon to dominate store shelves - are plenty safe. But skeptics remain.

By Steve Hargreaves, CNNMoney.com staff writer
Last Updated: September 3, 2009: 2:17 PM ET

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- So now the government's going to tell you what light bulb to buy, and it could be hazardous to your health.

That was the takeaway from some conservative and libertarian-minded folks when the energy bill of 2007 mandated more efficient lighting that would lead to a gradual phase out of many incandescent bulbs. Europe's ban began this week and the new U.S. rules take effect in 2012.

The concept of the government dictating light bulbs seemed too juicy for some groups to pass up. The fact that the more efficient fluorescent bulbs contain mercury - a highly toxic element - gave actual grounds for objection.

But environmentalists point out that the increased electricity required to run a regular lightbulb from a powerplant produces a lot of mercury too.

Nonetheless, criticism of fluorescent bulbs was fast and furious.

"Everyone is being urged, cajoled and guilt-tripped into [replacing] Thomas Edison's incandescents," wrote the WorldNetDaily, a news Web site that bills itself as "a free press for a free people." "However, there is no problem disposing of incandescents...you can throw them in the trash can and they won't hurt the garbage collector...they won't kill people working in the landfills."

The poster-child for the anti-fluorescent bulbers is Brandy Bridges, a mother in Maine who broke a bulb in her daughter's bedroom a couple years back.

Bridges, aware the bulbs contained mercury, called state officials, who came over, did tests, and told her to have the room cleaned by a hazardous waste crew - to the tune of over $2,000. Maine officials eventually came to her house and cut out the carpet.

This story has been widely circulated on the Internet, and sharp criticism of the government mandate continues today from email chain letters to rants on Capitol Hill.

The mandate, which doesn't ban incandescent bulbs but requires much greater efficiency that will effectively take most of them off the shelf, phases in starting in 2012. One in Europe began earlier this week.

But much of the fear surrounding fluorescent light bulbs may be overblown.

When contacted about the Bridges case, Maine officials said the advice to get a professional hazardous waste cleaner and remove the carpet was given before a policy on fluorescents was fully developed. They no longer tell people to call a hazmat crew or remove rugs, unless the homeowner is particularly concerned.

I've got enough incandescent bulbs to last until LED technology gets better. Anyone else stockpiling light bulbs? Anyone here who has used and likes CFLs? Aside from the nanny state stuff, these bulbs are too dim (yet also bizarrely harsh) for me.

CNN Money (http://money.cnn.com/2009/09/03/news/economy/light_bulbs/?postversion=2009090312)

linda22003
09-04-2009, 11:20 AM
I'm doing modest stockpiling - we buy a few every time we go to the grocery store. I don't like the light quality of the new bulbs, and pretty much everything I have connected to a wall switch is on dimmers.

Rockntractor
09-04-2009, 11:22 AM
Call me weird but I like the curly cue light bulbs I use them wherever I can. It is nice not having to change bulbs all the time.

BadCat
09-04-2009, 11:25 AM
I'm doing modest stockpiling - we buy a few every time we go to the grocery store. I don't like the light quality of the new bulbs, and pretty much everything I have connected to a wall switch is on dimmers.

I have dimmers on most every switch in the house, so the swirly bulbs are not for me. I have experimented with them, and don't like them. And they DO NOT LAST as they advertise. I've had them blow in as little as one month.

PoliCon
09-04-2009, 11:27 AM
I'm doing modest stockpiling - we buy a few every time we go to the grocery store. I don't like the light quality of the new bulbs, and pretty much everything I have connected to a wall switch is on dimmers.

http://www.thinkgeek.com/gadgets/lights/9ceb/

linda22003
09-04-2009, 11:28 AM
They don't look like they'll fit inside the harps of my lamps, some of which are very expensive.

Gingersnap
09-04-2009, 11:30 AM
I have dimmers on most every switch in the house, so the swirly bulbs are not for me. I have experimented with them, and don't like them. And they DO NOT LAST as they advertise. I've had them blow in as little as one month.

This also happened to me! I had a few in an overhead light fixture in my sun room. While that light gets flipped on and off a lot, the quality of the light isn't important since I use lamps in there for reading.

One bulb went in a month and the other one lasted about 3 months. Somebody told me that turning them on and off a lot causes premature bulb death. Well, who doesn't turn lights on and off a lot? :confused:

PoliCon
09-04-2009, 11:32 AM
FROM THE EPA:

What to Do if a Fluorescent or Other Mercury-Containing Light Bulb Breaks

Compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) are lighting more homes than ever before, and EPA is encouraging Americans to use and recycle them safely. Carefully recycling CFLs prevents the release of mercury into the environment and allows for the reuse of glass, metals and other materials that make up fluorescent lights.

EPA is continually reviewing its clean-up and disposal recommendations for CFLs to ensure that the Agency presents the most up-to-date information for consumers and businesses. Maine's Department of Environmental Protection released a CFL breakage study report Exit EPA Disclaimer on February 25, 2008. EPA has conducted an initial review of this study and, as a result of this review, we have updated the CFL cleanup instructions below.

Pending the completion of a full review of the Maine study, EPA will determine whether additional changes to the cleanup recommendations are warranted. The agency plans to conduct its own study on CFLs after thorough review of the Maine study.

Fluorescent light bulbs contain a very small amount of mercury sealed within the glass tubing. EPA recommends the following clean-up and disposal below. Please also read the information on this page about what never to do with a mercury spill.

Before Clean-up: Air Out the Room

* Have people and pets leave the room, and don't let anyone walk through the breakage area on their way out.
* Open a window and leave the room for 15 minutes or more.
* Shut off the central forced-air heating/air conditioning system, if you have one.

Clean-Up Steps for Hard Surfaces

* Carefully scoop up glass pieces 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.
* Use sticky tape, such as duct tape, to pick up any remaining small glass fragments and powder.
* Wipe the area clean with damp paper towels or disposable wet wipes. Place towels in the glass jar or plastic bag.
* Do not use a vacuum or broom to clean up the broken bulb on hard surfaces.

Clean-up Steps for Carpeting or Rug

* Carefully pick up glass fragments and place them in a glass jar with metal lid (such as a canning jar) or in a sealed plastic bag.
* Use sticky tape, such as duct tape, to pick up any remaining small glass fragments and powder.
* If vacuuming is needed after all visible materials are removed, vacuum the area where the bulb was broken.
* Remove the vacuum bag (or empty and wipe the canister), and put the bag or vacuum debris in a sealed plastic bag.

Clean-up Steps for Clothing, Bedding and Other Soft Materials

* If clothing or bedding materials come in direct contact with broken glass or mercury-containing powder from inside the bulb that may stick to the fabric, the clothing or bedding should be thrown away. Do not wash such clothing or bedding because mercury fragments in the clothing may contaminate the machine and/or pollute sewage.
* You can, however, wash clothing or other materials that have been exposed to the mercury vapor from a broken CFL, such as the clothing you are wearing when you cleaned up the broken CFL, as long as that clothing has not come into direct contact with the materials from the broken bulb.
* If shoes come into direct contact with broken glass or mercury-containing powder from the bulb, wipe them off with damp paper towels or disposable wet wipes. Place the towels or wipes in a glass jar or plastic bag for disposal.

Disposal of Clean-up Materials

* Immediately place all clean-up materials outdoors in a trash container or protected area for the next normal trash pickup.
* Wash your hands after disposing of the jars or plastic bags containing clean-up materials.
* Check with your local or state government about disposal requirements in your specific area. Some states do not allow such trash disposal. Instead, they require that broken and unbroken mercury-containing bulbs be taken to a local recycling center.

Future Cleaning of Carpeting or Rug: Air Out the Room During and After Vacuuming

* The next several times you vacuum, shut off the central forced-air heating/air conditioning system and open a window before vacuuming.
* Keep the central heating/air conditioning system shut off and the window open for at least 15 minutes after vacuuming is completed.

http://www.epa.gov/mercury/spills/index.htm#flourescent

linda22003
09-04-2009, 11:33 AM
When I was in elementary school, they gave us blobs of mercury to push around on our desks with a pencil.

bijou
09-04-2009, 11:34 AM
I have a handy stockpile of incandescents. I'm hoping to last out until something better comes along.

PoliCon
09-04-2009, 11:34 AM
When I was in elementary school, they gave us blobs of mercury to push around on our desks with a pencil.

I will refrain from making the comment that comes to mind here ;)

linda22003
09-04-2009, 11:34 AM
What, that "that explains a lot!" ? :p

PoliCon
09-04-2009, 11:37 AM
What, that "that explains a lot!" ? :p More something along the lines of - yea and when you went to school alchemy was still an academic subject! :p

BadCat
09-04-2009, 11:38 AM
When I was in elementary school, they gave us blobs of mercury to push around on our desks with a pencil.

Same here.
That's where I learned about Au/Hg amalgams.

linda22003
09-04-2009, 11:38 AM
More something along the lines of - yea and when you went to school alchemy was still an academic subject! :p

Well, I guess you need to say the same thing to BadCat, too!

Gingersnap
09-04-2009, 11:45 AM
I have a handy stockpile of incandescents. I'm hoping to last out until something better comes along.

LEDs are the future. They just need a little tweaking. ;)

PoliCon
09-04-2009, 11:46 AM
Well, I guess you need to say the same thing to BadCat, too!

Nope. I'm refraining. Remember? ;)

FlaGator
09-04-2009, 11:52 AM
When I was in elementary school, they gave us blobs of mercury to push around on our desks with a pencil.

Mercury is only harmful in gaseous form or with combined with another substance. In Mexico and Central America it is swallowed as a remedy for stomach and intestinal illnesses.

Gingersnap
09-04-2009, 12:25 PM
Mercury is only harmful in gaseous form or with combined with another substance. In Mexico and Central America it is swallowed as a remedy for stomach and intestinal illnesses.

I wouldn't bet the farm on that one. I have a pretty cavalier attitude toward a lot of compounds that most people would only approach in a hazmat gear but I would never swallow mercury. It's a neurotoxin in all forms. I'm not saying that playing around with mercury a few times as a kid will cause permanent impairment but swallowing mercury is just crazy.

stsinner
09-04-2009, 01:30 PM
I've got enough incandescent bulbs to last until LED technology gets better. Anyone else stockpiling light bulbs? Anyone here who has used and likes CFLs? Aside from the nanny state stuff, these bulbs are too dim (yet also bizarrely harsh) for me.

CNN Money (http://money.cnn.com/2009/09/03/news/economy/light_bulbs/?postversion=2009090312)

I do't agree with the government telling incandescent bulb makers they can't do it any more, and I don't really like CFL's because they contain mercury and are hazardous, but I do have many, and they are just as bright as 75 watt bulbs and use much less wattage..

I don't mind them, but small lamp shades that are bulb-mount won't mount to them, and, again, it's the control issue I have a problem with.. And the fact that not one of these bulbs is made in America..

linda22003
09-04-2009, 01:37 PM
I wouldn't bet the farm on that one. I have a pretty cavalier attitude toward a lot of compounds that most people would only approach in a hazmat gear but I would never swallow mercury. It's a neurotoxin in all forms.

Remember the "Mad Hatter" in Alice in Wonderland? Hatters were considered "mad" because they cured the felt for hats with mercury, and it eventually poisoned them.

Rockntractor
09-04-2009, 01:50 PM
Remember the "Mad Hatter" in Alice in Wonderland? Hatters were considered "mad" because they cured the felt for hats with mercury, and it eventually poisoned them.
You remember way back to hatters?

linda22003
09-04-2009, 01:58 PM
You remember way back to hatters?

No, I don't personally remember. I have a book called "The Annotated Alice", which explains the background of a lot of things in the story.

Maybe you'll have a book someday, too, and then you can learn things. :)

PoliCon
09-04-2009, 02:07 PM
You remember way back to hatters?
remember - alchemy was still a core subject when she went to school so - of COURSE she remembers hatters! :D

FlaGator
09-04-2009, 02:41 PM
I wouldn't bet the farm on that one. I have a pretty cavalier attitude toward a lot of compounds that most people would only approach in a hazmat gear but I would never swallow mercury. It's a neurotoxin in all forms. I'm not saying that playing around with mercury a few times as a kid will cause permanent impairment but swallowing mercury is just crazy.

I didn't say that I did it. I said that people south of the border do it. The practice was featured on an episode of CSI and I got curious and googled it. It was true. That is also where I learned it wasn't harmful in its solid form because it can't be digested and is too dense to be absorbed by the body.

jinxmchue
09-04-2009, 02:42 PM
Mercury is only harmful in gaseous form or with combined with another substance. In Mexico and Central America it is swallowed as a remedy for stomach and intestinal illnesses.

You totally learned that from CSI. (Like I did.) ;)

jinxmchue
09-04-2009, 03:03 PM
FROM THE EPA:

What to Do if a Fluorescent or Other Mercury-Containing Light Bulb Breaks

Compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) are lighting more homes than ever before, and EPA is encouraging Americans to use and recycle them safely. Carefully recycling CFLs prevents the release of mercury into the environment and allows for the reuse of glass, metals and other materials that make up fluorescent lights.

EPA is continually reviewing its clean-up and disposal recommendations for CFLs to ensure that the Agency presents the most up-to-date information for consumers and businesses. Maine's Department of Environmental Protection released a CFL breakage study report Exit EPA Disclaimer on February 25, 2008. EPA has conducted an initial review of this study and, as a result of this review, we have updated the CFL cleanup instructions below.

Pending the completion of a full review of the Maine study, EPA will determine whether additional changes to the cleanup recommendations are warranted. The agency plans to conduct its own study on CFLs after thorough review of the Maine study.

Fluorescent light bulbs contain a very small amount of mercury sealed within the glass tubing. EPA recommends the following clean-up and disposal below. Please also read the information on this page about what never to do with a mercury spill.

Before Clean-up: Air Out the Room

* Have people and pets leave the room, and don't let anyone walk through the breakage area on their way out.
* Open a window and leave the room for 15 minutes or more.
* Shut off the central forced-air heating/air conditioning system, if you have one.

Clean-Up Steps for Hard Surfaces

* Carefully scoop up glass pieces 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.
* Use sticky tape, such as duct tape, to pick up any remaining small glass fragments and powder.
* Wipe the area clean with damp paper towels or disposable wet wipes. Place towels in the glass jar or plastic bag.
* Do not use a vacuum or broom to clean up the broken bulb on hard surfaces.

Clean-up Steps for Carpeting or Rug

* Carefully pick up glass fragments and place them in a glass jar with metal lid (such as a canning jar) or in a sealed plastic bag.
* Use sticky tape, such as duct tape, to pick up any remaining small glass fragments and powder.
* If vacuuming is needed after all visible materials are removed, vacuum the area where the bulb was broken.
* Remove the vacuum bag (or empty and wipe the canister), and put the bag or vacuum debris in a sealed plastic bag.

Clean-up Steps for Clothing, Bedding and Other Soft Materials

* If clothing or bedding materials come in direct contact with broken glass or mercury-containing powder from inside the bulb that may stick to the fabric, the clothing or bedding should be thrown away. Do not wash such clothing or bedding because mercury fragments in the clothing may contaminate the machine and/or pollute sewage.
* You can, however, wash clothing or other materials that have been exposed to the mercury vapor from a broken CFL, such as the clothing you are wearing when you cleaned up the broken CFL, as long as that clothing has not come into direct contact with the materials from the broken bulb.
* If shoes come into direct contact with broken glass or mercury-containing powder from the bulb, wipe them off with damp paper towels or disposable wet wipes. Place the towels or wipes in a glass jar or plastic bag for disposal.

Disposal of Clean-up Materials

* Immediately place all clean-up materials outdoors in a trash container or protected area for the next normal trash pickup.
* Wash your hands after disposing of the jars or plastic bags containing clean-up materials.
* Check with your local or state government about disposal requirements in your specific area. Some states do not allow such trash disposal. Instead, they require that broken and unbroken mercury-containing bulbs be taken to a local recycling center.

Future Cleaning of Carpeting or Rug: Air Out the Room During and After Vacuuming

* The next several times you vacuum, shut off the central forced-air heating/air conditioning system and open a window before vacuuming.
* Keep the central heating/air conditioning system shut off and the window open for at least 15 minutes after vacuuming is completed.

http://www.epa.gov/mercury/spills/index.htm#flourescent

Buddha H. Siddhartha! :mad: Break an incandescent and you don't have to jump through these hoops for weeks - even months - after you break it.

jinxmchue
09-04-2009, 03:04 PM
I have dimmers on most every switch in the house, so the swirly bulbs are not for me. I have experimented with them, and don't like them. And they DO NOT LAST as they advertise. I've had them blow in as little as one month.

Supposedly you can get a replacement (dunno if you can get a refund) for such defective bulbs.

jinxmchue
09-04-2009, 03:04 PM
I've got enough incandescent bulbs to last until LED technology gets better. Anyone else stockpiling light bulbs?

I need to start. No way I'm buying CFLs anymore with the .


Anyone here who has used and likes CFLs? Aside from the nanny state stuff, these bulbs are too dim (yet also bizarrely harsh) for me.

What I've seen in regards to their benefits is outweighed by the negative things. They usually last a long time, which is nice when you have sockets that are difficult to get to (e.g. high ceilings). They give off a nicer light than fluorescent tube bulbs, but not as nice as incandescents. And, of course, they use less power.

But the downsides turn me off to them. The main thing is disposal. Here in Minnesota, we can't dispose of them in the trash. We have to take them to a hazardous waste disposal facility (the nearest one to where I live in 50 miles away) and pay 50 cents per bulb!

Another downside is that unlike incandescents, the brighter the CFL, the bigger it is. We have a ceiling fixture in our bathroom that can only fit an incandescent-sized CFL, which gives off really pitiful light, especially with the opaque light cover on it. A bigger, brighter CFL won't fit.

Lars1701a
09-04-2009, 03:06 PM
You remember way back to hatters?

Short and sweat :)

linda22003
09-04-2009, 06:27 PM
Short and sweat :)

What does perspiration have to do with it? :confused:

Lars1701a
09-04-2009, 06:33 PM
What does perspiration have to do with it? :confused:

Do me a favor and look up the word "typo" and write a 3000 word paper on its meaning. I want that back in a week.

Milly
09-04-2009, 06:38 PM
When I was in elementary school, they gave us blobs of mercury to push around on our desks with a pencil.

They did that in my school, too. We also stuck our feet in the Xray machine at the shoe store to check the fit of new school shoes.

It's a wonder we aren't all dead. :eek:

For the record, I'm stockpiling, even though they'll probably be confiscated when the cops come around to check on my swine flu status.

PoliCon
09-04-2009, 09:37 PM
Buddha H. Siddhartha! :mad: Break an incandescent and you don't have to jump through these hoops for weeks - even months - after you break it.

Catching on eh? Dead of winter - break a CFB and the EPA says you have to turn off the heat and open the windows.

PoliCon
09-04-2009, 09:37 PM
Do me a favor and look up the word "typo" and write a 3000 word paper on its meaning. I want that back in a week.

That's not a typo - that's being a piss poor speller :p