Now Where Was I?…
To sum up: our intrepid householder replaced most of his regular bulbs with pricey compact fluorescent ‘curly-bulbs’– some of which then died, broke, or nearly caught fire. Our hero feels puzzled, taken advantage of, and uncertain about the alleged wonder-bulbs. The story continues…
After all of this, all I had was questions– and the internet. I kept my eyes peeled online for curly-bulb stories. After all– maybe I’d just had really bad luck with my particular set of bulbs or home electrical, or something.. or perhaps, the same problems and questions were occurring for others out there.
Boldly onto the interwebs, to see what we can see.
Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?
It took only a few moments on Google to find all of the following, none of which you’ll hear from Eco-people, our government, or even the authorities responsible for such matters. You go to WalMart, buy the nice new curly-bulb to save energy and be nice to Mother Earth or whatever, and suddenly, you’ve left behind the proven & safe technology of old Thomas Edison’s certified tungsten-vacuum lightbulb for…
Radiation, you say? Skin Burns & Rashes? Seizures?!
Emissions From Compact Fluorescent Lights – Health Protection Agency, UK, 2008
UV Radiation galore, is it?
You can poison your house with one broken bulb?!
“The DEP sent a specialist to Bridges’ house to test for mercury contamination. The specialist found mercury levels in the bedroom in excess of six times the state’s “safe” level for mercury contamination of 300 billionths of a gram per cubic meter. The DEP specialist recommended that Bridges call an environmental cleanup firm, which reportedly gave her a “low-ball” estimate of US$2,000 to clean up the room. The room then was sealed off with plastic and Bridges began “gathering finances” to pay for the US$2,000 cleaning. Reportedly, her insurance company wouldn’t cover the cleanup costs because mercury is a pollutant.”
“As each CFL contains five milligrams of mercury, at the Maine “safety” standard of 300 nanograms per cubic meter, it would take 16,667 cubic meters of soil to “safely” contain all the mercury in a single CFL.”
Face turning pale, dizzy, feeling angry. Are we really getting all the information we need to make a responsible, informed decision about whether or not to introduce this technology into our bedrooms and kitchens, and over the baby-crib?
Cheer up– it gets much worse.
The US-EPA recommends Special Procedures if a curly bulb breaks?!?
Funny, they don’t mention recommended EPA emergency protocols on the box, or commercials, or go-green “We love dem curly-bulbs” advertising, do they? Odd, that.
Good old tungsten bulb breaks, you pick it up, put in a box, throw it out. Scary lightbulb of evil curly-bulb dies, and you got yerself special DIY at-home hazmat procedures, possible mercury poisoning, and a danger to people in your home, especially kids. The following, via the “U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Hazardous Waste Minimization and Management Division“, no less.
Red Alert! Curly-Bulb Down!
“Jim Berlow, director of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Hazardous Waste Minimization and Management Division, recommends….”
- starting by opening the windows and stepping outside. “Any problems at all frequently are handled for the most part by quickly ventilating the room,” he says.
- “Get all the people and pets out of the room for 15 minutes and let the room air out.
- If you have a central heating system or an HVAC [heating, ventilating and air-conditioning] system, you don’t want it sucking the fumes around, so shut that down.”
- After airing out the room, the larger pieces of the bulb should be scooped off hard surfaces with stiff paper or cardboard or picked up off carpeted surfaces with gloves to avoid contact.
- Use sticky tape or duct tape to pick up smaller fragments; then, on hard surfaces, wipe down the area with a damp paper towel or a wet wipe.
- All materials should be placed in a sealable plastic bag or, even better, in a glass jar with a metal lid.
- “If it gets in the jar, that’s pretty good containment,” Berlow states. “We’ve found that the plastic bags actually don’t contain any mercury fumes, so absolutely, if you’ve got the plastic bag, get it outside when you’re done.”
- Vacuums or brooms should generally be avoided, as they can spread mercury to other parts of the house.
Er.. um– right, then.
News to me. Don’t manufacturers and pushers of curly-bulbs have a legal duty to warn customers about this? Sounds like a class-action suit to me.
If companies have to put “THIS IS NOT A TOY” on all the plastic bags, surely we need hazmat/ radiation/ special procedures/ hazardous waste warnings on curly bulb packages and advertising. Mind you, that would crowd out the green happy messages a bit.
And who told us any of this important information– even in a “by the way” style– along with telling us that these dangerous bulbs would be mandatory in some jurisdictions in the next few years?
What about the disposal of unbroken bulbs? How much mercury is acceptable in our local landfills? What’s the master plan for this?
What if a kid breaks one of these bulbs and gets it all over themselves? Should they be taken to the doctor? What if some of the mercury is ingested? What’s a safe level? Why are we being told to fill our homes with tiny mercury-bombs that have all the other problems being reported in the media, as noted above?
Something stinks about these curly-bulbs. I am browned off.
Stay tuned.. it gets worse.