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View Diary: Conservatives less likely to buy same lightbulbs if you tell them it will help the environment (203 comments)

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  •  That's the irony of the CFL debate. (4+ / 0-)

    Have you seen the EPA instructions on what to do if one breaks in your house?  It isn't like we aren't tossing those things into land fills all over the place at this point.  I am afraid that I'd still prefer incandescent lightbulbs with a huge push towards renewable energy systems over this CFL push given how toxic those bulbs actually are.

    •  Haven't flourescent bulbs (0+ / 0-)

      been around since pretty much forever? And haven't they always had mercury in them?

      I don't recall anyone screaming "Eeek! Mercury!" until CFLs became popular.

      If the pilot's good, see, I mean if he's reeeally sharp, he can barrel that baby in so low... oh you oughta see it sometime. It's a sight. A big plane like a '52... varrrooom! Its jet exhaust... frying chickens in the barnyard!

      by Major Kong on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 01:46:01 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Very true (0+ / 0-)

        “I used to be disgusted....Now I try to be amused" --Elvis-- My first attempt at a diary..

        by PlinytheWelder on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 01:55:39 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Actually, there are two things at work here (0+ / 0-)

        on the florescent bulb front:

        1. Environmental awareness in this country is in its infancy especially with regard to the inventions of the 60's like plastics, etc.
        2. It is one thing for some segment to be using a certain technology and very different if it is adopted by nearly 100% of the population.

        What we will see in a decade or so are all kinds of reports about how the CFL movement was harmful to the environment - people who are working tirelessly to advance the LED technology are trying to get ahead of the problem.  The question in my mind is whether or not the industries who have invested so heavily in CFL will allow us to be weaned off of that technology down the road.

    •  They aren't that onerous . . . (0+ / 0-)

      and to quote the EPA's own instructions:

      What if I can't follow all the recommended steps? or I cleaned up a CFL but didn't do it properly?

      Don't be alarmed; these steps are only precautions that reflect best practices for cleaning up a broken CFL. Keep in mind that CFLs contain a very small amount of mercury -- less than 1/100th of the amount in a mercury thermometer.

      I have more mercury in my house in the old thermostat in the basement, than I have in all our CFL bulb combined.
      •  I once saw (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        a medical mystery show about a baby that had all sorts of mystery health problems which had doctors baffled, for months.  Teeth falling out, hair falling out, skin rashes, crying constantly.  Turned out that when she was finally tested for chemical poisoning--she had mercury poisoning.  The previous owners of the house had spilled some mercury compound on the floor of her room and cleaned it up but not well enough apparently.  Lordy.

      •  Right now that's the case, but over time (3+ / 0-)

        you break bulbs - people who lived there before broke bulbs - people after you break bulbs and you have a hazard.  The mercury doesn't just evaporate or go away.

        I think it is a huge irony that mercury thermometers have been outright banned and at the same time we are introducing other household items that would be used in far greater quantities acting like it is no big deal - and then there is the landfill problem that no one wants to talk about.  I do not know of any municipality that has a regular and reliable CFL disposal program in place.

        •  I think it's mercury vapor (0+ / 0-)

          A CFL contains maybe 2 to 5 milligrams of mercury, which is generally vaporized.  I don't know if it momentarily liquifies when the bulb is off but I doubt it, since the conduction of electricity through mercury vapor is what makes it run.

          That is a very very small amount.  I wouldn't recommend sniffing a broken CFL, but it's not much where the air  circulates regularly.

          •  The thing is that if my chemistry teacher (0+ / 0-)

            wasn't wrong - mercury is mercury - vaporized or not - and it can hang around.  The EPA recommends opening all windows, turning off central air, and running fans to blow the fumes out.  But where is out?  Out in your yard where your pets and kids play?  Even if you do not break one in your house, where are they going when you and everyone else in your area throws them out?  To a landfill near you is the answer.  

            If lightbulbs were not as prevalent as sugar is in this society, I would not be quite so adamant about arguing this point, but they are not used by only a minority of the population.

            I think that I have a really different perspective because I lived on a small island where the dump was a part of all of our everyday lives.  Everything we brought in was incinerated or buried there.  The runoff went right into the sea where there are fish and a lot of sword fish particularly in that area.  Mercury levels are something that I care about and the real effects of modern life after that experience are not abstract concepts to me.

            I am not convinced that by using CFL bulbs I'm doing anything other than shifting from one ecologically threatening problem to another.  The root cause of our climate and environmental problem is fossil fuels - change that and we can go back to safer technology like incandescent bulbs.

        •  Actually . . . (0+ / 0-)

          most hardware stores(Home Depot, Aubuchon to name a few) will accept CFLs. It is one of the programs where the recycling loop is effectively closed.

          Also most towns in my area will also accept CFL at their annual hazardous waste days.
          (these are listed in milligram (1 mg is about 3.5274e-5 oz)

          In terms of the amount mercury here is the breakdown.
          Thermometers 500 milligrams of mercury.

          Thermostat - 30 milligrams of Mercury.

          CFL  0.004 milligrams to  .008 milligrams of mercury.

          •  I took one of my old florescent bulbs to (0+ / 0-)

            the hardware store and they reluctantly took it - they don't generally do that.  Home Depot is 20 miles away - you do the math on the fossil fuel investment in that project.

            My town used to have an annual recycle day for hazardous materials, but that was cut a while back.  Last time I tried to go to the dump where they receive hazardous materials, they were closed during the hours that they claim to be open.

            You think that people are going to be handling the disposal of CFLs properly?  Lol - pipe dream.  Hell, most people don't even know that CFLs contain hazardous materials that should be properly disposed of BECAUSE releasing that information would undermine the push for widespread adoption of the technology.

          •  By the way, I've had exactly one (0+ / 0-)

            mercury thermometer in my lifetime.  I can't possibly count how many light bulbs I've bought, used, broken and otherwise been exposed to over the course of my life.

            I was on a job site where some young men were fucking around on a 20 foot ladder and one thought it would be fun to toss the bulb down at one of his buddies to see if he could catch it.  His buddy turned out to suck at catching on the fly.  The bulb shattered everywhere.  None of them even had a clue that there are hazardous materials in CFLs.  They thought that the glass was their worst problem.  Over time, this will be an issue amongst the population writ large if we do not move on to safer technology.

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