Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Lucia Energy Saver Lightbulbs Very Dangerous

That does it! I've thrown out three of the energy saver light bulbs in my kitchen so far, I've just got two of the things to go. I thought that they were safe as long as they weren't accidentally broken, but reading about how they can cause house fires when they burn themselves out has been the last straw for me. Out they go!

Related Link: Editorial on CFL mercury danger ~ TBR
Investigate Magazine - current issue

21 comment(s):

Lucia Maria said...

One to go! The hardest part is getting the glass covers back on the the light fitting. Those screws they use are evil!

Sb said...

Come on then I'll bite where is this evidence that CFL are a health hazard?

Lots of people like Investigate go on about it being available but strangely seem to be unable to produce it?

I have been using CFL for 10+ years now without any problems. They have saved me quite a nice sum.

remember that CFL are just the same as normal tubes and they have been around since what 1940?s and have not killed off the human race

CFL bad for you - yeah right!


ZenTiger said...

Its in the article in Investigate SB.

The article is heavily dependent upon a detailed study conducted by the State of Maine, and concerns the dangers around accidental breakage of CFLs.

It seems that the small amount of mercury each of these things contain, is released as a vapour, not as an easily cleaned up pool of 'liquid' like in a thermometer.

Whilst the chances of breakage are low, in a house with kids those odds change. Then there is the issue of general leakage from a bad unit.

The article is quite extensive, and seems to raise credible issues that are not discussed on the generic (lightweight) CFL promotion sites.

ZenTiger said...

Oh, and the vapour spreads and hangs around in quantities that are still dangerous.

Whilst the article quoted extensively from this report by the State of Maine, other sources were also cited on a range of related issues and it seems this is not a "one off report".

It could indeed turn out to be an issue on par with "lead in petrol is safe" that was widely believed and promoted in the 20's and 30's. The guy who invented the lead additive for petrol (and he also invented those ozone destroying fluorocarbons) ended up paralyzed from a condition looking like the effects from lead poisoning. He strangled himself to death with another one of his inventions that went wrong. Poetic justice really.

I.M Fletcher said...

I've got the magazine and read the whole article - it's scary stuff. It's not only the accidental breakage problem; apparently some of these lights are designed to burn-up as they reach the end of their lives.

It's not only the danger of mercury, also the article reckons that because of harmonic distortion caused by these bulbs, that our creaky electricity network wouldn't be able to handle the load if everyone was forced to switch to CFLs.

The article also quotes John Key as saying that if National came to power then they wouldn't make the switch to CFLs mandatory.

I'm going to go and buy a normal bulb tonight for my bedroom.

Sb said...

The Maine people have released an FAQ.

I'm going to go and buy a normal bulb tonight for my bedroom

That's nice - I am not, I am going to continue to use CFL in every socket in my house.

I also don't believe in taking electrical engineering advice from the people who produce BS like Investigate.

Remember its the people behind Investigate who claimed that in you wrote your name all in CAPITALs you did not have to pay income tax?

When I next break a CFL (2 in 10 years) I will follow the procedure in the FAQ or what ever is current at that time.


ZenTiger said...

Fair enough. Let's hope the country remains free enough though that people concerned about the health and safety issues are able to exercise choice in the matter.

Personally, I'm concerned about the disposal of these things. Some people will not put them in the proper place for recycling (once we have one) and there is talk about an expensive plan for New Zealand to send our CFL rubbish to Australia for proper handling from the year 2012. That doesn't sound like they are safe to me.

Finally, my plan is to install solar power as a supplement to my electricity consumption. In this case, whatever bulb I chose to burn will not be a significant strain on the grid, and use of CFL or not would be meaningless in this situation (aside from me reducing the environmental impact of CFL's if I continued with incandescent and halogen).

I.M Fletcher said...

sb, that's up to you. I do suggest reading the article though before you make up your mind. There's an important excerpt HERE.

I feel that you're just being stubborn because it's Investigate. Whatever your feelings or bias towards Investigate and it's subject matter is it worth the health of family and yourself not to look into it? What if the same article was printed in the Listener or North and South? Would you take notice then?

Sb said...

I feel that you're just being stubborn because it's Investigate

I would not believe Investigate magazine if it told me that the sun was going to rise tomorrow!

However that's not important because my approach to CFL was made up some time ago, I decided that given the available information that used in a normal manner CFL were safe. I have kept an open mind on the matter though but if I am to change my mind I need real hard information.

I need to hear it from real medical experts not crackpots like Wishart, or for that matter Listener etc.

I have used CFL for at least 10 years, I have had if my memory serves me right 3 burn out and two break in that time. That's out of a population of approx 25 bulbs.

I just cannot see any credible evidence of a health risk to me or my family, if you have some fine bring it on I will look at it but it has to be real and credible not some jurno desperately trying to fill his words quota.

One effect of the reports over say the last six months is that whereas before I would have just swept a broken bulb up like any other I will be more careful when another one breaks ( 3 years to go on average now)


KG said...

"One effect of the reports over say the last six months is that whereas before I would have just swept a broken bulb up like any other I will be more careful when another one breaks.."
And throw away your vacuum cleaner and carpet afterwards as well?

Sb said...

And throw away your vacuum cleaner and carpet afterwards as well?

Why would I want to do that?

Follow the approved process and its safe - this is science not witchcraft kg.


ZenTiger said...

You might want to read the report, SB. There are now new and improved processes. Call it evolution, call it progress, call it science, just don't call it safe.

Lucia Maria said...

I don't know, Z. I think Sb is very content to have his eyes closed and his fingers in his ears while singing very loudly ... "I can't hear you! I can't hear YOU!"

Sb said...

No Lucyna wrong again I am singing

"Burn the Witches Burn the Witches - the Sky is falling, Burn the Witches"

My fingers are also not in my ears but wrapped around a glass of red wine (or will be soon) while basking in the glow of two 18 W CFL!


ZenTiger said...

SB - It's too early to proclaim the matter is settled on this issue either way. That doesn't mean those discussing the latest findings are merely anti-tech witches.

Do you believe me about the lead in petrol? What would be the difference in stories if this were 1935 and some stories were coming to light about the marked increase in lead in the atmosphere?

This issue hasn't the same hysteria around man-made global warming, indeed, it is probably that hysteria that is driving the government to uncritically ban incandescent bulbs in favour of CFL's as a token gesture to reduce energy consumption by maybe 2%.

No-one that I know has yet called to ban CFL's - which would be an ironic counter, but the safety issues around breakage and disposal need further investigation and greater public awareness. That's hardly "burn the witches".

Sb said...

Zentiger, fluorescent tubes have been in widespread use in many applications since the 1940's. I am sure that the number of broken tubes since that date is incredible. Heath hazards from fluorescent tube are well understood. Chemically fluorescent tubes and CFL are identical except that tubes used to contain 14-18 mg of Mercury while CFL contain on average 4mg and the newest ones contain approx 1 mg.

The action of Mercury on the human body has been studied for a very long time, I am aware of several major studies done in the 1970's.

None of this knowledge is either new or disputed in any major way by experts in those areas.

CFL's are new but the underlying science and medicine is not.

I would maintain that this is very much a case of "Moral panic" or "burn the witches"


ZenTiger said...

No disagreement there SB. CFL simply stands for "Compact Fluorescent Lamps" and are indeed similar to the ones we use in office blocks etc.

What I understood from the reports is that they may vaporise Mercury differently, and that it doesn't dissipate as quickly as first thought, especially if it gets absorbed into carpet.

Health hazards might be widely understood by experts, but I don't think they are widely understood by consumers in general. As CFL usage increases, we are bound to see larger quantities ending up in dumps and requiring recycling, and also, more accidental breakages that are not handled correctly and damaging people.

At that point I wonder if the authorities will simply say "tough luck on the mercury poisoning - ignorance is no excuse"

Whatever, this is hardly "moral panic". On what basis do you make this a moral issue?

KG said...

"Why would I want to do that?
Follow the approved process and its safe - this is science not witchcraft kg."
Read the Maine report and you'll find out why you may want to do that.
And it's science alright--is that why you haven't read the scientific report yet?

KG said...

"follow the approved process and it's safe"..yeah, riight.
You trust bureaucrats that much, eh? as Zen points out, leaded petrol was once "safe" too. And so was lead-based paint. And asbestos.And Thalidomide.
I'll err on the side of caution, thanks.

Cecilia Tankersley said...

It's not just Investigate magazine that has raised this issue. I subscribe to a US magazine, Wise Traditions, from the Weston A Price Foundation. Their concern is that many people may not even be aware that these bulbs contain mercury so that special care is needed. The Environmental Protection Agency in the US has information on its website about cleaning up broken bulbs, but there are no warnings or special handling instructions on the packaging.

People need to be properly advised of the risks, especially when other bulbs have been banned, and extra care needed for table lamps that are easily knocked over by children or pets.

Another concern is that the amount of mercury released by ONE bulb can exceed US federal guidelines for chronic exposure. It's also stated that the bulbs actually save very little in terms of overall home energy usage.

I.M Fletcher said...

If you read the whole Investigate article, later on there is a story about a huge alert called when a child was seen to be playing with mercury outside a school or something (I don't have the magazine in front of me right now to give the exact details). Anyway, this huge alert was called, his family's living area and their van were investigated and all the family members with readings etc.

It turns out that the amount concerned is less than what's in a CFL bulb.

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