President Obama said in his State of the Union address, “I will not back down from protecting our kids from mercury pollution.” Of course, no one is asking him to back down. There is no movement in favor of exposing kids to mercury poisoning. It was like boldly proclaiming opposition to organized dog fights. Mr. Obama was obliquely referring to his support for the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) rule issued late last year by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In a December presidential memorandum, Mr. Obama claimed that “by substantially reducing emissions of pollutants that contribute to neurological damage, cancer, respiratory illnesses and other health risks, the MATS Rule will produce major health benefits for millions of Americans – including children, older Americans and other vulnerable populations.” MATS is the most expensive EPA rule revision in history, and compliance will cost power plants $10-18 billion a year. These costs will be passed directly to consumers. Some critics have charged that hyping mercury poisoning in MATS was just a cover for the EPA to ramp up its regulatory assault on the coal industry. Trace amounts of mercury from coal-fired power-plant emissions affect a small number of Americans, chiefly those who live near the emissions sources. At the same time, however, the Obama administration has been trying to force Americans to accept even greater mercury risks by insisting that traditional incandescent light bulbs be replaced with compact fluorescent lights (CFLs). The mercury vapor in CFLs is at a much more dangerous concentration than anything coming out of power plants. The associated risks are magnified because the toxic vapors and dust from a broken bulb would be contained in a room or enclosed area. The same EPA that is sounding the alarm about mercury emissions from power plants has written a detailed guide explaining how to respond to a broken CFL. It involves, among other things, evacuating the room in which the breakage occurs, shutting down central heating and air conditioning, airing out the room, carefully collecting bulb fragments and dust with rolled up duct tape, and placing all cleanup materials in airtight bags in a protected area outdoors pending proper disposal. Who knew that dropping a light bulb would instantly turn a home into a HAZMAT zone? If Mr. Obama had his way, fluorescent lights would be in every home and school in America. The administration was set to enforce the ban on traditional incandescent light bulbs that passed in 2007 and was to begin this year, but a provision was included in the budget bill passed in December that would prohibit the Obama administration from spending any money to enforce the light-bulb ban. Energy Secretary David [Steven] Chu mocked this as “a choice that continues to let people waste their own money.” But it might also let them better protect their kids. Remember when you are handling a CFL that it contains potentially deadly poisons. You can recognize the bulbs because they are twisty, like Mr. Obama’s policy logic.
Send Your Light Bulbs To Washington
All light bulbs have usage advantages. People should feel perfectly free to use and enjoy CFLs and LEDs along with incandescents.
But pushing the use of any bulb is wrong: And CFLs are being pushed on consumers, in energy saving campaigns, in CFL replacement programs, and lately also via regulations, as the only practical replacement alternative, which also happens to be more profitable for the light bulb manufacturers.
"Hey, you can still use energy efficient incandescents like Halogens, and LEDs that show such promise!!" Certainly - as said - all light bulbs have their advantages. But that does not make them worthy replacements.
Replacement Halogen and similar incandescents are still different from simple incandescents in light quality and other respects, apart from costing much more for marginal savings, which is why neither consumers or politicians like them much. No "Halogen replacement program" in any American state!
Besides: All known general service incandescents including touted Halogens will progressively be banned on the enacted EISA 45 lumen per W end regulation standard. That's right. The politicians don't tell you that. USA regulations including updates on repeal bills in local states (legislated Texas June 2011)
LEDs meanwhile have still greater differences, cost much more, and have particular development issues around brightness, omnidirectionality, and broad spectrum light quality.
That is why the replacement push is to use CFLs - as also seen in post-ban Europe. Unfortunately, whatever the CFL energy saving advantages, politicians also choose to hide, obfuscate, or ignore the disadvantages relating to this type of lighting.Therefore this blog seeks to highlight some of these issues, with appropriate references. Not least of which is the issue of CFL disposal:
Improper disposal of compact fluorescent light bulbs is dangerous to your family and to the environment. In some states, it is illegal to put these light bulbs in your trash. It's easy to dispose of compact fluorescent light bulbs properly. Just send them to your Senator or Congressman in Washington. Or send them to the EPA.