Do we Really Need to Worry about
HEATHER THOMAS: Despite their environmental benefits, there have been several recent questions about the health concerns of Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs or CFLs, due to both the mercury contained within the bulbs and the amount of 'dirty electricity' that is emitted from them.
Before resorting to mass hysteria and changing all of the light bulbs in your house back to incandescent, please stop to review all of the facts. Three important key elements to consider in your decision-making are: information, moderation and preservation.
FACTS ABOUT DIRTY ELECTRICITY:
Sources: Computers, TVs, fluorescent tubes, some CFL and low-voltage halogen bulbs, electronics, radio broadcast towers, dimmer switches and ground currents running into your home electrical current through gas and water pipes and phone lines.
Health Effects: Headaches, nausea, unstable blood pressure, rashes, joint/muscle pain, vision and digestive problems to name just a few. These adverse effects seem to be specifically dangerous to those suffering from diabetes, asthma, migraines, and multiple sclerosis.
FACTS ABOUT MERCURY EMISSIONS:
FACTS ABOUT CFLs:
EPA CLEANUP AND DISPOSAL GUIDELINES FOR CFLs:
2. Clean-Up Steps for Hard Surfaces
3. Clean-up Steps for Carpeting or Rug:
4. Clean-up Steps for Clothing, Bedding, etc:
5. Disposal of Clean-up Materials
6. Future Cleaning of Carpeting or Rug: Air Out the Room During & After Vacuuming
After reviewing this collection of information, decide whether changing some light bulbs is enough to impact your health and well-being. Consider that you will probably also need to stop eating fish, watching TV and driving your car. Also consider other factors such as chemicals and preservatives in food, radiation from the use of microwaves, UVA & UVB exposure from the sun, and even radiation from prolonged use of cell phones, or even hair dryers, which all have adverse effects on health.
There are options. You CAN switch to LED lights, remove dimmer switches or touch lamps, recharge laptops when you are not at home, or purchase special filters to help reduce high frequency emissions. For a complete list of ways you can reduce your exposure to 'dirty electric' visit electricalpollution.com
Once you evaluate the pros and cons, you can decide the best course of action for you and your family. It's important that you make your choices based on information and not just reaction to media hysteria. In a time when we are bombarded by twenty-four hour access to public opinion through social networks, video sharing sites and news media, it is even more critical to ask questions and become an informed decision-making leader instead of a weak-minded follower of the masses.
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Mar 20, 2011 - 12:11 AM
Thank you for your detailed analysis Erik, however if you refer back to the original comment, the context was much more general than the specifics you outlined, and no reference was ever made to the specific amount of mercury in a single room.
The statement was a general reference to the overall amount of mercury that contaminates air and water from coal-fired power plants in comparison to the amount generated by CFL's.
We all need to consider the impact of our energy sources. Many pose dangers - for example: nuclear (look at what's going on in Japan) and coal-fired (as referenced above); and consider the more earth-friendly alternatives of wind or water power. But in the end, a mass panic about CFL bulbs seems like the least efficient use of our time and energy.
But thank you again for taking the time to read the article and for providing such a detailed mathematical analysis. A switch to LED bulbs sounds like a win in the short term.
Mar 18, 2011 - 4:54 PM
Math FAIL! Let's take your claim that coal-powered plants add more mercury to a room than a broken light bulb. I Googled for a state where people are complaining about mercury emissions from coal - the first one I came up with was Wisconsin, which in 2009 emitted 2,270 lbs of mercury from its coal-burning plants. This has dropped considerably in 2010 thanks to new technology, but let's take the old numbers for the sake of argument.
Wisconsin is 65,498 square miles, multiplied by
Now, one could argue that there are several unknowns here - first of all, not all of the mercury emitted into the air would stay in the state, but some would probably come in from neighboring states as well so we'll just assume it evens out. One could also assume that much of the mercury would not wind up indoors - it's much more likely to land somewhere outside (unless your hypothetical room has no roof), but I'm too lazy to measure the reduction so let's assume a worst-case of 1:1 (which is probably off in your argument's favor by an order of magnitude but whatever). The only question left is whether or not you break less than one lightbulb per room per 16.6 years. Maybe I'm just unusually clumsy, but for me the answer is "heck yes, much more."
But then, my area is powered by nuclear energy so if it weren't for these stupid CFLs, I wouldn't have to worry much about mercury anyway...
Nov 17, 2010 - 4:16 PM
Pablo Machuca -
Lovely....I felt much informed!!!
After a near-death experience with Stage 4 Hodgkin's Disease in 1998, Heather found clarity of purpose when it came to making positive life choices. During the next eleven years of her remission, the "new Heather" decided to do things that interested her, like pursue her love of writing, and study Massage Therapy, Reiki, EFT and other holistic methods of healing. Having been mentored and coached by amazing, powerful and successful teachers; schooled in everything from spirituality to business, Heather gained invaluable skills for a total transformation, and now lives a life governed by Passionate Purpose.
The Universe has opened doors allowing Heather to meet incredible people who contributed to her life in both personal and professional ways, and ultimately, brought her to a place where she can offer assistance to others. So, with the opportunity to live out her passion through her own business, The Recycled Mind www.therecycledmind.com , Heather shares her knowledge and information with countless people who are looking to raise both their personal and environmental awareness. You can read her daily insights and inspirations on The Recycled Mind's Facebook page(www.facebook.com/therecycledmind ). She inspires people to Think Differently, Live Better.