Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs: A New Cancer Risk in Your Home

February 19, 2013
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broken-cflHave the government and General Electric lied to us? Action Alert!

The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA) mandates the phase-out of incandescent light bulbs, and favors energy-efficient compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs.

Sounds good—until you realize that CFL bulbs contain mercury, and mercury poses a significant cancer risk. A new study shows that CFL bulbs also emit high levels of ultraviolet radiation—specifically, UVC and UVA rays. In fact, the UV rays are so strong that they can actually burn skin and skin cells. Experts say the radiation could initiate cell death and cause skin cancer in its deadliest form—melanoma.

In every bulb the researchers tested, they found that the protective phosphor coating of the light bulb was cracked, allowing dangerous UV rays to escape. Healthy skin cells exposed to CFLs showed a decrease in their proliferation rate, an increase in the production of reactive oxygen species, and a decrease in ability to contract collagen.

On top of that, it’s a sad fact of life that light bulbs break. How do you clean up the mercury after a bulb breaks? The Institute for Molecular and Nanoscale Innovation measured the release of mercury vapor from broken bulbs. They recorded concentrations near the bulb of up to 800 mcg/m3, which is eight times the average eight-hour occupational exposure limit allowed by OSHA (100 mcg/m3).

Even more shocking, the recommended limit for children is a mere 0.2 mcg/m3. A child exposed to a broken CFL bulb will receive eight thousand times the recommended amount of mercury vapor!

A broken 13-watt CFL bulb will only have released 30% of its mercury a full four days after it is broken—the remainder is trapped in the bulb. So picking up shards with your bare hands or leaving them in poorly ventilated room while you ponder the best disposal method is a particularly bad idea.

Unfortunately, there is no good solution for cleaning up after a broken CFL bulb. Researchers at Brown are testing a cloth made with a nanomaterial (nanoselim) that can capture mercury emissions for proper disposal. But until this is commercially available, it is best to avoid CFLs altogether. And how will we dispose of the clean-up cloth?

General Electric claims that CFLs don’t produce a hazardous amount of UV radiation, and that UV is far less than the amount produced by natural daylight. The truth is that all compact fluorescent lights bulbs contain mercury vapor. Once that vapor is hit with an electric current, it emits a great number of UV rays. UV rays are theoretically absorbed by the layer of phosphor that coats the bulbs—but the signature twisted spiral shape makes these bulbs more prone to cracks in the phosphor, which dramatically increases UV/mercury exposure. Researchers found cracks in almost all bulbs purchased from retail stores, indicating that it is a standard design flaw of these bulbs.

CFL bulbs contains other cancer-causing chemicals as well. German scientists found that several different chemicals and toxins were released when CFLs are turned on, including naphthalene (which has been linked to cancer in animals) and styrene (which has been declared “a likely human carcinogen”). A sort of electrical smog develops around these lamps, which could be dangerous.

CFLs are supposedly better for the environment, but according to the Association of Lighting and Mercury Recyclers, 98% of CFLs end up in landfills—creating a mercury build-up that can escape into our soil and waterways.

We’re happy that the federal government is tackling environmental problems, but this “solution” is especially short-sighted—and not unlike the national smart meter push, is creating serious health risks in the long-term.

Worse, soon consumers won’t have the option to buy incandescent lights—they simply won’t be available. The government hasn’t placed an outright ban on incandescent light bulbs. Section 321 of EISA mandates higher efficiency standards for general service lamps. But these standards are high enough that most commonly used incandescent bulbs just won’t meet the new requirements. EISA will effectively eliminate 40-, 60-, 75-, and 100-watt incandescent bulbs. The new efficiency levels will be in full force by 2014.

Even the United Nations has acknowledged the problem of mercury in CFL bulbs, and has instated a ban on certain types of CFLs. We won’t know the full implications of that ban until the treaty is made publically available.

The good news is that CFLs are not the only energy-efficient bulbs out there. There are also light-emitting diodes (LEDs), which are mercury-free—though LEDs emit blue light, which can be disruptive to sleep, as we noted in our 2012 article.

Action Alert! Please contact your legislators immediately and call for a repeal of the ban on incandescent lights. Tell them about the cancer risks and the lack of proper disposal methods. Please take action today!

Take Action

110 Responses to “Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs: A New Cancer Risk in Your Home”

  1. Erik says:

    I personally cannot stand CFL light bulbs they irrate the crap out of me. It feels like my eyeballs are being hit with a high frequency laser beam burning my eyes. It is absolutely no surprise to me that the FDA have lied, that’s what they do for a living is deceive and lie. I replaced my CFL light bulb with a full spectrum bulb and immediately felt dramatically better. No irritation, no burning of my eyes no headache. I am lucky that I can sense these evil devices and get rid of them. Most people are clueless sheep thinking that everything that is approved by the FDA is safe and healthy. Replace your light bulbs and see a dramatic difference immediately. Full spectrum is the only option for light bulbs.

       0 likes

  2. Mary Reynolds says:

    A few months ago my son and daughter-in-law remodeled their kitchen. Part of the remodeling was to put in recessed lights overhead and to use CFLs in them. From that time on every time I went to their house and sat with them at the kitchen table I coughed the whole time I was in there. If I would go upstairs to the computer room I would find relief. I usually go there to visit every week, and from the time they remodeled I coughed worse and worse with each visit. Today they turned the lights off when I was in their kitchen. Guess what!! I didn’t cough.

    I feel sorry for the people who want to believe those bulbs are safe. They will pay the price for this fantasy, and sadly, so will their children. It’s not going to make any difference what they believe when they and their children get cancer early in life. They will die just the same. I just happen to be more chemically sensitive than most people, and because of this, I can tell that something is wrong by my body’s reactions. I believe that people who don’t have the same built-in warning system that I have and who won’t question what is being done to them and theirs in the name of ecology are in a lot of danger, and I sympathize. I intend to use incandescent lights just as long as I can get them. And when I can’t get then anymore, I will look for solar. I believe that CFL’s and LED’s are a tragedy for the American public, something that should never have happened.

       10 likes

    • Gigi says:

      My Mother got Stage three Melanoma skin cancer on her head, from sitting directly underneath a CFL at her kitchen table for years. She also died from COPD, and had a terrible cough that eventually required Oxygen 24/7. She never smoked. Coincidence? I think not. I will be the next Erin Brochovich for this crusade against the mandating of the people using CFL’s. Seriously. I will take it to the highest court in the land. Peace.

         3 likes

      • Gigi,
        There is an alternative to the CFL’s. Even though the government has banned the manufacturing or importing of the original incandescent light bulb, the ban DID NOT include “rough service” incandescent light bulbs. The “rough service” means only that they are constructed of a more heavy duty filament designed to withstand shock and vibration. They also last considerably longer than the standard incandescent bulb. No mercury. When it burns out, throw it in the trash. The best part is, they are made right here in the United States in contrast to virtually every other light bulb on the market being imported. These bulbs are manufactured in New Jersey and are offered by my company through eBay.

        http://www.ebay.com/usr/americanpatriotexchange

           2 likes

  3. w.b. says:

    check out the link below. nuff said.

    http://www2.epa.gov/cfl/cleaning-broken-cfl#important

       3 likes

  4. This story is nothing more than unscientific fearmongering. CFLs are a better solution than incandescent bulbs, which ultimately result in greater mercury exposure than CFLs, because they consume more power and require more power generation. Since mercury is a byproduct of burning coal, coal-fired power plants are a larger source of mercury pollution than the mercury content in the CFLs. With a proven packaging configuration and proper disposal, CFLs can be used effectively without releasing harmful mercury vapor.

       5 likes

    • Robert Edward says:

      If you want to use CFLs – use them and you run the risk of cancer. BUT do not force others to use CFL or LEDs. A large number of people cannot tolerate light from CFL and LEDs.

      Mercury from power stations depends on filters fitted. CFL and LEDs made in China are produced on power plants with no filters. With CFLs you are brining mercury vapour into your kid’s bedroom. Do you smoke in front of your kids as-well?

      CFL and LEDs do not lasted their claimed life – result they use more energy and create more toxins than incandescent bulbs produced and run on Canadian Hydro power or wind power.

      Energy is measured on a meter – if you ban CFL and LEDs – better to limited everyones use of energy to x units and let them CHOOSE how to use their energy – do not dictate to others what bulbs they can and cannot use in their homes – and doing so in full knowledge that CFL and LEDs make some people ill – these are the actions of evil

         3 likes

  5. John Hartshorn says:

    It is difficult to know what hazard CFL bulbs pose without some context. The Stony Brook research details are behind a paywall but I found this site with a comprehensive summary of research on CFL emissions of UV radiation: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1600-0781.2011.00576.x/full. To summarize briefly, there may be some slight risk of exacerbation of skin problems in highly photosensitive people like many with lupus, but for most folks the amounts of UV radiation from these bulbs are relatively tiny compared to normal sun exposure which is hundreds of times higher. The mercury exposure issue seems to be negligible compared to the amount already in our daily environments. If you spend long hours with a CFL lamp within a foot or less of your skin you could theoretically experience some reddening IF the bulb is a high emitter of UV and you have highly sensitive skin.

    Not using CFLs means higher power bills and less “natural” lighting, and of course ignoring the contribution unnecessary power consumption makes to climate change. My review convinces me this is a case of making a mountain out of a molehill.

    As Paracelsus, the founding father of toxicology famously stated “The dose makes the poison”.

       5 likes

  6. Jessi says:

    I am in shock…although I suppose I shouldn’t be. The more I read and learn, the more disgusted I am. What happened to “Look before you Leap”?! My little girl (7) accidentally broke one of these light bulbs in her bedroom, cleaned it up all by herself, touching the bulb, the glass, breathing the air, sleeping in her small room after it happened. I never thought anything of this! How awful to realize that my little girl was subjected to 8 THOUSAND TIMES more Mercury vapor than the recommended safe amount!

       4 likes

  7. C Tongo says:

    I used to work in one of the London (UK) big hotels as shift engineer. In late 2008 or beginning 2009, I sustained an accident (one of my fingers was slashed) caused by a broken fluorescent bulb that broke whilst I was replacing it.
    Early 2010, I started developing severe skin problems that happened to be a cancer (Peripheral T Cell Lymphoma).
    Could this be a coincidence? My doctors cannot explain where I got it from.

       7 likes

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    great, the articles is in point of fact nice : D.
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       4 likes

  9. David says:

    What about all the Mercury that most everyone is walking around with in their mouths in the form of amalgam cavity filings that the dentists have been putting in peoples mouths now for decades.? Mercury in dental amalgam emits many times the level of radiation considered safe!! In the documentary, “The Beautiful Truth” shows this as a fact as a tooth that has an amalgam filling that was extracted over 50 years ago and they dip the tooth in a plain container of water to simulate the tooth being inside someones mouth and then hold it in front of a specially treated card that allows the viewers to see the mercury vapor flowing very freely from the tooth. Then a Geiger counter is held over the tooth to show the deadly amounts of radiation emanating within the mercury vapor.

    This truth has been hidden from the public for far too long and has been causing who knows how many health problems for all that have these filings in their mouths.

       9 likes

  10. Susan says:

    As someone with (medical) photosensitivity I hate these bulbs as they cause me actual pain as I react to them indoors. There was absolutely no thought to people with lupus and other auto immune diseases when they forced these bulbs on us. Some people even suffer seizures. How exactly are we supposed to work and live? Do I wear a beekeepers or hazmat suit to function?!

    How about mandating UV filters on all of these lights in public places? Or is that not goingto make anyone money? I didn’t get to vote on this.

       10 likes

  11. Harvey says:

    Your facts are a bit skewed. You state:

    Even more shocking, the recommended limit for children is a mere 0.2 mcg/m3. A child exposed to a broken CFL bulb will receive eight thousand times the recommended amount of mercury vapor!

    In response I say: if the mercury is vaporized, the child (or any other person) will only receive a tiny fraction of the mercury emitted.

    Then you state:

    A broken 13-watt CFL bulb will only have released 30% of its mercury a full four days after it is broken—the remainder is trapped in the bulb. So picking up shards with your bare hands or leaving them in poorly ventilated room while you ponder the best disposal method is a particularly bad idea.

    In response I inquire – does the amount of mercury you made in the first statement reflect the 30% or are you leveraging the same numbers in two incompatible ways?

       8 likes

  12. ACBaughman says:

    I’ve noticed that these bulbs become loose from the mounting. I only bought them because I thought they could save money. I find that I actually am replacing them more often. This overrides the cost advantage to me.

       4 likes

  13. Eli says:

    I also have a problem thinking of using CFL light bulbs in the overhood range of my stove. I wouldn’t want one of these light bulbs breaking over the stove I cook on. Or using one in my refrigerator. I don’t want one of these bulbs near my food supply or where I cook. And what if you live in earthquake prone area? Then what? I heard that LED bulbs will probably replace CFLs in the near future as the way to go. Hope it will be safer….

       8 likes

  14. Heidi says:

    I don’t use CFL’s. I opt for the full spectrum, daylight correct light bulbs which burn for 5000-10000 hrs.

       8 likes

    • Karen says:

      Are the ” full spectrum” bulbs you use not fluorescent?. If they are fluorescent bulbs THEY CONTAIN MERCURY

         1 likes

  15. Dye Diet says:

    I understand the reasoning in the article, BUT…. People, do NOT overreact. NATURAL irradiation of sunlight contains 10% of ultraviolet (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sunlight). DO NOT BREAK bulbs at home to avoid being exposed to TRACES of mercury. You cannot live the life fearing every corner. But what I do tell the public: WE need avoid CHEMICALS added INTENTIONALLY (as “food” additives) to our everyday food.

       13 likes

  16. Jan Martin says:

    When they first pushed these bulbs I sounded off about the mercury risks and since that time I’ve had countless numbers of people posting for advice on what to do because one of these light bulbs shattered with their toddler in the room and now they have been exposed to mercury.

    The problem with these light bulbs is if they break you are will have mercury vapor emitted into the room its in and it will be there for a while. And you will be exposed to it. And now we fill landfills with the CFL’s simply because no one is following the government recommendations for taking used bulbs to the hazardous waste facility. And that’s more environmental mercury. This is a not a viable solution to conserving energy. Using less in the first place would be a start. Compare the amount of electrical appliances used in the average 1950’s home, to the home of today and you will see why there is a problem iwth energy consumption.

    Either way, I don’t want these bulbs around my kids.

       11 likes

  17. Joanne T Becker says:

    I am about to find out if this is merely coincidence or not when I see my dermatologist this coming Friday: My reading lamp, next to which I sit every evening for 5-6 hrs has a compact fluorescent bulb, installed over a year ago, as well as my office desk lamp. (That one is snapping and popping, so the bulb will have to be replaced). I noticed recently that I have developed 2 small black moles. One is on my face, under my eye and the other on my left arm. Both areas are exposed constantly to the lights. I am 78 and have never had a black mole, and the one on my arm is growing larger. After reading about the relationship between the bulbs and melanoma, I
    am suspicious and somewhat worried. Stay tuned!

       5 likes

  18. O S says:

    When the government approves it beware! When they say that the levels of X are safe beware! This is the same government that says feeding chickens arsenic is safe; that GMOs are safe despite independent studies that show rats developing tumors and sterility; that declare raw milk unsafe despite centuries upon centuries of people safely consuming raw milk (and maintaining strong teeth see Weston Price); and on and on. Every normal person everywhere is going to wake up to all of this, and there’s nothing those that spread lies and disinformation can do.

       14 likes

  19. Arthur Corbin says:

    I want to respond to this statement,” There are also light-emitting diodes (LEDs), which are mercury-free—though LEDs emit blue light, which can be disruptive to sleep, as we noted in our 2012 article.”

    1) the manufacturing process to produce an LED is not mercury free. Numerous toxins are used to produce LEDs and many countries have lax disposal laws.

    2) LEDs may emit blue light. Not all LEDs produce blue light. And any light other than red light can be a sleep disruptor.

    Please fact check before posting. LEDs are an electronic device that are complicated. LEDs are improving and changing at a blistering pace so what is true today may not be true in 6 months. And LEDs, the better LEDs, carry a high purchase price. I suggest thinking of LEDs as an appliance with a 15 to 25 year life. Look at the Philips L Prize lamp for an example of an exceptional medium base LED fixture.

       5 likes

  20. Francis Rubinstein has continued his research into mercury. his 24 page report is here
    https://dl.dropbox.com/u/16546920/BodyBurdenmodel.pdf?goback=.gmp_3834245.gde_3834245_member_198713038

    Francis posted the following report conclusion at the LinkedIn group Hot button Issues in Lighting,
    “Our analysis leads us to believe that current concerns over the health risks from mercury exposure from a broken CFL have been overstated, and that policies and guidelines should be rewritten with a more realistic view of the actual risks. In particular, there is evidence that mercury needs to be analyzed with a cumulative tissue burden model, when assessing adult, or even developmental risk, for short-term exposures. The cumulative nature of mercury implies that much higher concentrations of mercury are required for a short exposure to be harmful, than for a longer exposure. Use of a cumulative model reduces the estimated risk from a broken CFL by a factor of almost one thousand.
    CFLs represent a prime example of a situation where an overly conservative estimate of one risk can be harmful, because it leads to an increase in other risks. Inconvenient, and even frightening, cleanup and disposal guidelines based on an overly conservative estimate of the mercury risk from CFLs discourage people from purchasing and using them.[23] This is not to society’s benefit, because CFLs significantly reduce electricity use compared to the incandescent alternatives, and therefore reduce health risks associated with electricity production, as well as reducing environmental risks from greenhouse gas emissions. The positive societal benefits of increased use of energy-saving CFLs are jeopardized when the health risks of occasional CFL breakage are exaggerated.”

    In other words, look at your total mercury exposure over time.

    CFL provide 2 benefits:
    1) a reduction in energy consumption of 70% to 80%, and
    2) an increase in lamp life from 1,000 to 10,000 hours.

    Look for name brand CFLs to insure performance and light quality. I like and recommend the GE Reveal because of their pinkish lavender color. The downside is the appearance of less light and a slow warm-up time.

    Always use CFLs in open fixtures with air flow unless the CFL is rated for heat. The operating temperature range is available on manufacturer web sites.
    Always use CFLs where they will be operated for 15 minutes or more. Less than 15 minute use will result in shorter life.

    I hope this clarifies my…

       2 likes

    • Keaka says:

      This is short sighted. The household impact of mercury when a bulb breaks is minimal. But consider the fact that almost all of these bulbs end up in landfills. These bulbs break. And when the mercury is released it either sinks into the landfill (colder climates), or vaporizes into our air (tropics and warmer states). We are creating toxic vents with a steady release of mercury that will be breathed, or captured in clouds and concentrated in lakes. Then fish will eventually end up on our plates. The bulb is not the enemy, but the lack of recycling is. And I blame the makers for not ensuring that the buyer knows by making a large prominent note of the requirements of recycling, and the infrastructure for creating a recycling program ensuring people can recycle them with minimal effort. Still I’m afraid we will see less bulbs recycled than thrown out. This is a product that should not be pushed!

         5 likes

    • Karen says:

      Thanks for quoting a NON peer reviewed article from a NON medical professional.

         0 likes

  21. Arthur Corbin says:

    This article is one biglie & fabrication. No scientific sources are cited. No effort is made to be objective.
    Example. How much mercury is in a CFL? The amount would sit on the head of a pin. The amount is less than a bite of tuna. See Lawrence Berkeley Lab for a study by Francis Rubenstein.
    Example. Prodigous amounts of mercury are produced in coal-burning power plants. This mercury is carried into the atmosphere and ends up in our soil & water including our oceans. A result of this mercury is the medical recommendation to limit eating of high level fish no more than once a week. One reason for CFL / LED / OLED replacing incandescent is more efficient use of electricity.
    Example. Remove a 100 watt inandescent, install a 26 watt CFL & reduce energy use by at least 70%. Remove a 100 watt incandescent, install a 20 watt LED & reduce energy use by at least 80%.
    I suggest some research & less hysteria. You can start with the DOE Energy Star site.

       14 likes

    • Bob says:

      Lets all suck on so broken bulbs are people this bored in life . my house is full of them and my office . I don’t see the flesh dripping from my body yet.

         1 likes

    • PAUX says:

      Sorry, you are misinformed. The CFL bulbs are suppose to have a longer life, but this is based on usage of only 4 hours daily, after this their life decreases greatly. If a bulb gets broken it goes far beyond just airing out the area. Several states EPA state that if they break on a bedspread, dispose of it, but not in the regular garbage. If it breaks on a rug, cut out the area of rug. Do not vacumn the area because it makes an aresole of any remaining mercury particles and is very toxic, women and children are very suscepible to any amount of mercury, even mminute amounts. The recycling of these bulbs diminish any energy savings receives. They are suppose to be left at a pick up point, then trucks pick them up and transfer them to a holdiong area where they may be shipped to another country to be broken down. All costing energy and depletion of environmental and natural resources. The clean up of these bulbs are treated as a “hazardous spill”. They are not being disposed as they are suppose to be and are contaminating our soil, environment and in time our ground water.

         9 likes

      • @nyrhymes says:

        Shipped to another country? Are the lives in the USA more valuable than the lives of those in the countries where toxic waste is being shipped to?
        On the article, I think it is too sensational but I like the fact that it sensitizes us on the risks involved in the use of CFL bulbs, even thoug exaggerated, they are risks nonetheless.

           1 likes

    • Joe says:

      “Fits on the head of a pin” – thanks for the scientific counter-argument! I’m not familiar with what that scientific unit of measure signifies. I do know two facts: after replacing all the bulbs in my house with CFLs many years ago, I saw zero reduction in electricity cost. I felt good anyway because according to science, I was ‘doing the right thing’.
      More recently I found out that CFLs are only more efficient when kept on for a period of time. Not being an energy pig, I don’t leave bulbs on for a long time. They are on and off all day, and so there was no benefit.
      I’ve broken a couple of them at least. After the first bulb break, I googled how to clean up a broken CFL: you essentially need a hazmat suit. It is recommended you wear a mask, and DO NOT vacuum so as not to kick up the harmful dust.
      Our recycling center would not take a broken bulb. So I threw it out. That’s ok though, it’s less than a head of a pins’ worth of mercury on a garbage heap after all!
      After the 2nd bulb break, I since stocked up on incandescent bulbs and replaced all the CFLs, in hope that they last until LEDs become affordable. Though I understand that while not harmful, the manufacturing of LEDs does hurt the environment as well.
      I’ll never get the ‘science cures everything’ crowd; as long as capitalism and self-interest trump community investment and self-sacrifice, we are doomed.

         9 likes

      • Jesse Ritz says:

        In SE Penna we need lighting from 5:00 to 11:00 PM in the winter and 9:00 to 11:00 PM in the summer. (We spend more time outdoors in the summer and it is light much later. Note: I’m not even counting the difference lighting requirements in the AM; it varies too much.)

        At this latitude our annual heating costs exceed our annual electric costs; air conditioning costs is insignificant compared to heating costs. But the six hours a day that we light our homes in the winter is important for the following reason:

        When we use 500 watts (only five 100 watt bulbs) of incandescent lighting in the winter for six hours a day, 450 watts of that energy provides heat… per hour. That’s 2,700 KWH… every day.

        When we use 500 watts equivalent fluorescent lighting, that energy provides almost no heat! It has to be supplemented by running our oil, gas or electric heat. Where is the savings? All the energy that is supposedly saved, in northern climates isn’t saved at all… it is replaced by another form of energy to heat our homes! And we’ve spent 5 times as much for bulbs that have a terrible failure rate. So far none has lasted us 5 times as long as incandescent. (We have 48 in use since 1997.)

           2 likes

    • Heidi says:

      “No scientific sources are cited.”
      Arthur, the citations are highlighted links within the article.
      It is never a good idea to allow the monopoly of a certain product under the auspice of “reduction.” One environmental impact decreased at the price of more impact from something else not only doesn’t make sense, but is crazy.

      I have NEVER purchased a CFL, and make it a point to remove them where ever they are in my homes. Fluorescent lights have been shown to leech nutrients from food sitting under them, and cause head aches, as well as a host of other things.

      The element fluorine is a halogen that is extremely electronegative (in fact, it’s the most electronegative element known to science), and will stop at nothing to absorb electrons, whatever their source. Therefore the only true reduction that occurs in the presence of a CFL is the reduction of the fluorine atoms as they oxidize any atom in its path.

         2 likes

  22. Leslie Ralph Berger says:

    There is always an element (pun unintended) of truth to all articles such as that on CFL, UV emission and the danger of Hg exposure when released by accident or deliberately (disposed of improperly). But it would be better if that “element” were put in perspective.
    We are warned of a potential danger … now must know whether it is real and in what magnitude it poses a danger. All innovation poses potential or imagined risks. Do the benefits of CFLs outweigh their risks. Is it a question of energy saved, costs, $ for CFL manufacturers, are CFLs deliberately given shortened lives as are/were incandescent household bulbs?
    We now know some potential advantages and dangers of CFLs but let’s get some unbiased FACTS.
    ( PS: A fact is an indisputable truth)

       5 likes

  23. LJC says:

    I had a CFL in my kitchen ceiling light that must have been defective. It burned out way before it should have. I was in the other room and it smelled so bad, I thought my apartment was on fire! I was so scared, until I realized what had happened. Also, the bulb I tried in my bedside lamp caused static on my radio! I called Duke Energy for an explanation, but they had no clue. We need to save energy, but this just isn’t working!!

       6 likes

    • PAUX says:

      You are not alone in experiencing this. There are many whom have had this smoke out by these bulbs, some have called in the fire dept, thinking that there was a fire behind their walls only to find that it was the bulb burning out.

         2 likes

  24. Patrick says:

    “Despite their large energy savings, consumers should be careful when using compact fluorescent light bulbs,” said Professor Rafailovich. “Our research shows that it is best to avoid using them at close distances and that they are safest when placed behind an additional glass cover.”

    Problem mitigated …

       1 likes

  25. BarryTML says:

    Thanks for this article. As soon as I read it, I replaced the CFL above my computer desk (which is shining down on my head lots of hours a day) with an incandescent. I knew about the mercury risk if they broke, so I was being really careful about not breaking them. But I had no idea about the UV issue. I’ll try LED’s eventually, but I just can’t afford them now.

    Thanks for the info!

       5 likes

  26. Doc says:

    Incandescent bulbs should not be discontinued.
    The US should not be forced to use these dangerous CFL forms of light.
    It’s just another form of government control taking away our freedom of choice.

       20 likes

  27. anothernonymous says:

    All capitalist industries aren’t forthcoming in areas suited for they’re (and their investor’s) prosperity. That it’s occurring in this industry isn’t a surprise, however, I recently read an article that stated by 2014 anything mercury will be banned (including thermometers) so maybe this is a moot issue yet up until then the danger will still exist and the (then) defunct product will still be around, possibly for years. I apologize for not producing a link as it was stated long before I read this article.. I might add that in this article, it gave me the indication that the g’ment banning wasn’t a good thing but according to this one, it will be a good thing.. I’ll go with natural health..

       4 likes

  28. Les Peterson, D.C. says:

    When the detrimental-to-health effects of governmental policy decisions come to light, one of my friends always poses the question, “are they TRYING to kill us?” The more of these hamfisted attempts to make positive changes that turn out to be a health hazard, the more I wonder if she is not on to something.
    This reminds me of Bill Gates at a TED conference at which he outlined the options to reduce global climate change, based of course on the assumption our efforts will have a meaningful impact. The bottom line of his strategy could only be summed up as: a smaller human population. All of the factors he mentioned would lead to that end.

       4 likes

  29. MaryLynn says:

    Everybody, EVERYBODY, calm down! Geez, you’d think that this article came directly from The Great Oracle In The Sky. First, ask yourself: WHO FUNDS these reputation-shredding “studies”? Who would be motivated to impugn an industry (cleaner energy) that is taking BIG bucks away from the extraction (oil, gas, coal) industries?

    Mais, non! It can’t be! Could the Koch Bros possibly be behind these self-preservation “studies”? Or Exxon-Mobil, BP, Chevron? The US Chamber of Commerce (who loves to dwell in the 19th century)? Or a university whose faculty is being taken over with hiring decisions by the Koch Bros (try Florida State University, for one) because they receive generous “gifts” from the Kochs?

    Get a grip, people. Then go read the sixth comment from the beginning here by an informed person (Vince Gutschick) who obviously isn’t a Glenn Beck fool. Then stop believing everything you read by ANH-USA. I find the “warnings” they put out in their emails to be questionable at least half the time. Read these articles at your own risk and go look elswhere for informed, objective studies done by non-special interests.

       6 likes

  30. John Min says:

    Folks, just stock up on incandescent bulbs while you can. CFL’s are horribly dangerous and I think this madness will pass…just have a 4-5 year supply of the good old light bulbs and wait for this to end. CFL’s are dangerous in ways not mentioned here…when they burn out, they don’t just stop like an incandescent bulb does (circuit broken – no activity), but they continue to use electricity, heat up and emit some kind of vile smoke. Happened once in my house and that was all I needed to ban them in my home. And nobody is disposing of these bulbs like the hazardous materials they are, they are going straight to the landfill. Way to go USA government!

       10 likes

  31. Gene in L.A. says:

    Who in the world leaves a broken bulb around for four days? Who picks up the pieces of a broken bulb with their bare hands? I’m really getting tired of the sensationalist approach to “health” displayed by this site. I’m unfriending you on Facebook.

       3 likes

  32. Jean Leclair says:

    We had two bulbs so far that have given us problems. This one was in a bedroom. The first one blacked out and also emitted smoke. The other one which was in the bathroom blew out and the base turned black and also showed cracks in the rest of the bulb. We will not buy more until something is done. “If then”

       2 likes

  33. Electrical Engineer says:

    Best Product – LED…. but Cost Prohibitive

    UV Danger…. There, but realistically danger is relative to the intensity (or how close you are)… Every office building in the world has thousands of higher power bulbs that run more hours and the phospor coating breaks down (Would be more concerned about that)

    Environmental Danger… I have never seen a broken one… But the idiots who are lazy who throw them in the garbage can are the real danger… I have seen dumpsters of the 4′ tube which have 100’s of times more mercury in them..

    CFL’s are the best we have until LED production gets ramped up. Using incandescents creates more environmental danger and damage… but they are superior to CFL’s in quality of light

       4 likes

    • PAUX says:

      How are incandescent bulbs “create more environmental danger and damage”? As an electrical engineer I would think that you would be aware that these CFL bulbs cannot be safely used in dimmer switches (there are new ones that are suppose to work in them) but electricians feel that dimmer switch usage for these bulbs are bad and unsafe…the bulbs damage these switches. The incandescent bulbs are not a danger to clean up nor for our landfields. How does a handicapped or blind person clean up a broken CFL bulb safely? They don’t.

         3 likes

  34. Rosemarie says:

    I have had my pupil stop working because of working with a fluorescent lighting close to my eyes. This problem can become permanent causing pain and loss of vision. Now my pupil stops working if I am sitting near wireless equipment such as a printer with wireless LAN.

       1 likes

  35. Expat says:

    When I was living in California, It was advised to vacate and seal off a room in which one of these CFLs had broken and call a hazmat disposal company for the clean up. The cost, about $300. Here in France we still have options. Incandescent bulbs above 40 watts are nonexistent, but halogen replacements are available everywhere. They look just like conventional bulbs, but they have a tubular halogen element in the center. They are energy efficient and offer good reading light. They are available in lumen output up to that of a 150w conventional bulb. Judging by the amount of retail space devoted to the halogens, it looks like the French are voting with their pocketbooks. The CFLs are a much smaller presence on the store shelves than when they were first introduced.

       6 likes

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