Share The Wealth by Chris Gupta
May 02, 2007

Caution About Compact Fluorescent Lighting (CFL)

Yes further to: Sunlight, Lighting And Your Health (Dangers Of Fluorescent Lighting). With the exponentially increasing toxins in the environment adding mercury spill from fluorescent bulbs is simply unacceptable.

Chris Gupta

See also:

Communities In Bloom Goes Environmentally To The Dark Side

The message below will advise you about one problem concerning the use of compact fluorescent bulbs. You should also be aware that many of these bulbs contribute to 'dirty electricity' by putting dangerous high frequencies on the electrical system. Please also read the attached documents which relate to dirty electricity.


----- Original Message -----
From: Robert Riedlinger

Subject: Fw: Danger of Compact Flourescent (CFL) bulbs

From Fox News:

Light Bulb Lunacy (Original is here.)

Thursday , April 26, 2007

By Steven Milloy

How much money does it take to screw in a compact fluorescent lightbulb? About $4.28 for the bulb and labor - unless you break the bulb. Then you, like Brandy Bridges of Ellsworth, Maine, could be looking at a cost of about $2,004.28, which doesn't include the costs of frayed nerves and risks to health.

Sound crazy? Perhaps no more than the stampede to ban the incandescent light bulb in favor of compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs) - a move already either adopted or being considered in California, Canada, the European Union and Australia.

According to an April 12 article in The Ellsworth American, Bridges had the misfortune of breaking a CFL during installation in her daughter's bedroom: It dropped and shattered on the carpeted floor.

Aware that CFLs contain potentially hazardous substances, Bridges called her local Home Depot for advice. The store told her that the CFL contained mercury and that she should call the Poison Control hotline, which in turn directed her to the Maine Department of Environmental Protection.

The DEP sent a specialist to Bridges' house to test for mercury contamination. The specialist found mercury levels in the bedroom in excess of six times the state's "safe" level for mercury contamination of 300 billionths of a gram per cubic meter.

The DEP specialist recommended that Bridges call an environmental cleanup firm, which reportedly gave her a "low-ball" estimate of $2,000 to clean up the room. The room then was sealed off with plastic and Bridges began "gathering finances" to pay for the $2,000 cleaning. Reportedly, her insurance company wouldn't cover the cleanup costs because mercury is a pollutant.

Given that the replacement of incandescent bulbs with CFLs in the average U.S. household is touted as saving as much as $180 annually in energy costs - and assuming that Bridges doesn't break any more CFLs - it will take her more than 11 years to recoup the cleanup costs in the form of energy savings.

Even if you don't go for the full-scale panic of the $2,000 cleanup, the do-it-yourself approach is still somewhat intense, if not downright alarming.

Consider the procedure offered by the Maine DEP's Web page entitled, "What if I accidentally break a fluorescent bulb in my home?"

Don't vacuum bulb debris because a standard vacuum will spread mercury-containing dust throughout the area and contaminate the vacuum. Ventilate the area and reduce the temperature. Wear protective equipment like goggles, coveralls and a dust mask.

Collect the waste material into an airtight container. Pat the area with the sticky side of tape. Wipe with a damp cloth. Finally, check with local authorities to see where hazardous waste may be properly disposed.

The only step the Maine DEP left off was the final one: Hope that you did a good enough cleanup so that you, your family and pets aren't poisoned by any mercury inadvertently dispersed or missed.

This, of course, assumes that people are even aware that breaking CFLs entails special cleanup procedures.

The potentially hazardous CFL is being pushed by companies such as Wal-Mart, which wants to sell 100 million CFLs at five times the cost of incandescent bulbs during 2007, and, surprisingly, environmentalists.

It's quite odd that environmentalists have embraced the CFL, which cannot now and will not in the foreseeable future be made without mercury. Given that there are about 4 billion lightbulb sockets in American households, we're looking at the possibility of creating billions of hazardous waste sites such as the Bridges' bedroom.

Usually, environmentalists want hazardous materials out of, not in, our homes.

These are the same people who go berserk at the thought of mercury being emitted from power plants and the presence of mercury in seafood. Environmentalists have whipped up so much fear of mercury among the public that many local governments have even launched mercury thermometer exchange programs.

As the activist group Environmental Defense urges us to buy CFLs, it defines mercury on a separate part of its Web site as a "highly toxic heavy metal that can cause brain damage and learning disabilities in fetuses and children" and as "one of the most poisonous forms of pollution."

Greenpeace also recommends CFLs while simultaneously bemoaning contamination caused by a mercury thermometer factory in India. But where are mercury-containing CFLs made? Not in the U.S., under strict environmental regulation. CFLs are made in India and China, where environmental standards are virtually non-existent.

And let's not forget about the regulatory nightmare known as the Superfund law, the EPA regulatory program best known for requiring expensive but often needless cleanup of toxic waste sites, along with endless litigation over such cleanups.

We'll eventually be disposing billions and billions of CFL mercury bombs. Much of the mercury from discarded and/or broken CFLs is bound to make its way into the environment and give rise to Superfund liability, which in the past has needlessly disrupted many lives, cost tens of billions of dollars and sent many businesses into bankruptcy.

As each CFL contains 5 milligrams of mercury, at the Maine "safety" standard of 300 nanograms per cubic meter, it would take 16,667 cubic meters of soil to "safely" contain all the mercury in a single CFL. While CFL vendors and environmentalists tout the energy cost savings of CFLs, they conveniently omit the personal and societal costs of CFL disposal. Not only are CFLs much more expensive than incandescent bulbs and emit light that many regard as inferior to incandescent bulbs, they pose a nightmare if they break and require special disposal procedures. Should government (egged on by environmentalists and the Wal-Marts of the world) impose on us such higher costs, denial of lighting choice, disposal hassles and breakage risks in the name of saving a few dollars every year on the electric bill?

Steven Milloy publishes and He is a junk science expert, and advocate of free enterprise and an adjunct scholar at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.


At 06:39 PM 26/04/2007, Mary-Sue wrote:

The Canadian invention of fluorescent dimmer systems (by Dr. Barna Szabados of McMaster University <>) for office buildings reduces their power consumption by fifty percent or more. The technology also reduces annoying buzzing from large commercial-lighting fixtures. The light levels are user adjustable from any computer in the building's network, and the light be turned down below fifty percent of power drain on days when sunlight is brighter (which tend to be the hottest days when demand for A/C is highest). It is obvious that businesses would save big bucks by installing this home-grown energy-saving technology.

The Harper budget mentions replacing incandescent bulbs in Nunavut, but didn't specify with what. The screw-in fluorescent bulb being heavily promoted for home use is not sustainable because it contains mercury, an environmental contaminant and biological poison necessitating post-consumer handling of used bulbs as toxic waste. Will Nunavut and other remote areas be able to achieve safe disposal? That is of course if the bulb stays intact. If it happens to get broken, people and animals in the home will be exposed at close range to this mercury.

So far, the use of white LEDs requires replacement of fixtures, which not everyone is able or willing to do. This will require some scientific ingenuity to enable LEDs to radiate the light in all directions, such as by mounting five to seven of them angled outward from the base and using a fresnel lens to spread out the light further. As a transitional technology, a screw-in white LED bulb would save more energy than the fluorescent, last years longer, and not require special disposal methods. I'd love to be able to get this and install them once in the ceiling fixture -- and not have to climb a ladder again for a couple of decades...

It would be better if we had the option of buying White LED screw-in bulbs to replace both energy-wasting incandescent and mercury-laced lights in the home. So far I haven't found this available. Has anyone seen such, or got a lead on someone who might be developing such items?

Thanks for any info.



On 26-Apr-07, at 17:37, André Fauteux wrote:

My worry is more about the high frequencies created by fluorescent lighting.
More and more people are becoming electrosensitive...

Andre Fauteux, Publisher/Editor
La Maison du 21e siecle magazine
2955 Domaine du lac Lucerne
Ste-Adele Qc Canada J8B 3K9

Phone/Fax: (450) 228-1555

Subscriptions : 800 217-0591 -


On 07-04-26, at 17:18, Chris Cooper wrote:

You are forgetting that power plants emit far more mercury than CFL disposal.

The Lighting Industry Federation (LIF) has reported that the extra quantity of mercury emissions from burning fossil fuels in power stations to power incandescent lamps is three times the amount contained in equivalent energy efficient lamps. Read the study here: Light Industry Federation's lamp guide 2001 [634KB]

Significantly, a CFL has the distinct advantage that its mercury can be collected and recycled, unlike atmospheric pollution. Power stations also produce sulphur and nitrogen oxides which contribute to 'acid rain', not to mention particulate matter (which Harvard researchers estimate kills 50,000 to 70,000 Americans each year). Oh…and there's CO2 emissions that contribute to catastrophic climate change, as well as a whole host of harms associated with mining, transporting and processing coal, oil and natural gas used to power conventional plants.

Until we transition to an electricity generation system not completely dominated by fossil fuels, CFLs make a lot more sense than incandescent bulbs.

Chris Cooper, Network for New Energy Choices


From: Andrew Michrowski []
Sent: Thursday, April 26, 2007 4:56 PM

Subject: Caution About Compact Fluorescent Lighting

New environmental policies should be better articulated.

There are much better ways of meeting /exceeding the Kyoto protocol, at almost no cost, without aggressive regulations!

Andrew Michrowski, PhD
The Planetary Association for Clean Energy, Inc.

(613) 236-6265


I feel it's very important to warn people these "green" bulbs contain mercury which will end up in landfills throughout the country if we make the switch to them. In addition to filling our landfills with mercury, if the bulbs break you will be exposed to the mercury they contain.

Here is a quote from a report by the National Institute of Health on the effects of Mercury:

Quote - "Exposures to very small amounts of these compounds can result in devastating neurological damage and death. For fetuses, infants and children, the primary health effects of mercury are on neurological development. Even low levels of mercury exposure such as result from mother's consumption methylmercury in dietary sources can adversely affect the brain and nervous system. Impacts on memory, attention, language and other skills have been found in children exposed to moderate levels in the womb."

Source : - Mercury Health Hazards

Some folks will make the claim that using normal bulbs produces more mercury than these bulbs containing mercury. This claim is based on the assumption that all power comes from coal, which is not true, as shown in this quote from the EPA:

Quote - "Please note that a major limitation of EPA's estimate of mercury emissions
savings is that we assume a direct relationship between energy saved from using T8 lamps and a reduction
in coal-fired electricity for all types of utility boilers; that is, the Agency assumes that, as the demand for
energy decreases, there would be a corresponding decrease in coal-fired electricity for all utilities and
regions of the country. Yet, lamp manufacturers and utilities have indicated that, for many parts of the
country, the marginal demand for electricity during business hours would be satisfied by gas and oil units,
not necessarily coal-fired units. For such regions, a decrease in energy demand would not necessarily result
in a decrease in coal-fired electricity. This issue has not been resolved in the analysis."


Also note that the EPA's Clean Air Mercury Rule will reduce mercury emissions from coal power plants by 70% by the year 2018. This is a much better solution than the "green" idea of dumping mercury into landfills all over the country.

Controlling Power Plant Emissions: Overview

If you want to reduce the amount of energy you consume from light bulbs then please follow these steps:

1) Use natural light to its fullest effect, including scheduling your tasks to take advantage of natural light.
2) Buy smaller wattage bulbs.
3) Use candles.
4) Buy LED bulbs. They do not contain mercury.

Please do not buy these mercury bulbs. We are just now reaching the point where we've cleaned up the mercury in landfills. We don't need to turn around and put it back now.

Compact fluorescent bulbs are listed by the government as hazardous items. For those folks who I cannot convince to not use these bulbs, here are the procedures for properly disposing of them, taken from the GE website:

• Like paint, batteries, thermostats, and other hazardous household items, CFLs should be disposed of properly. Do not throw CFLs away in your household garbage if better disposal options exist. To find out what to do first check (where you can find disposal options by using your zip code) or call 1-877-EARTH911 for local disposal options. Another option is to check directly with your local waste management agency for recycling options and disposal guidelines in your community. Additional information is available at Finally, IKEA stores take back used CFLs, and other retailers are currently exploring take back programs.

• If your local waste management agency offers no other disposal options except your household garbage, place the CFL in a plastic bag and seal it before putting it in the trash. If your waste agency incinerates its garbage, you should search a wider geographic area for proper disposal options. Never send a CFL or other mercury containing product to an incinerator.

Source: What do I do with a CFL when it burns out?


posted by Chris Gupta on Wednesday May 2 2007

URL of this article:





Readers' Comments

So the CFL bulb I broke on my back porch 5 years ago could be a hazard? This is great new information.

Posted by: resen on April 5, 2008 07:29 PM


It's so simple as to be one of the most transparent examples of what can happen when lobbyists and legislators are left un-supervised: First, it is a predetermined certainty that no one will do anything with a dead CFL except toss it in the trash - and on to the landfill. And in 20 years we'll be wondering how so much mercury got into our soil, and water supply, etc. As Sen. Dirksen so famously said, 'a few million here and there, and pretty soon you're talking about real money.' -- The same can be said of the mercury in a CFL. Second, CFL's don't even deliver on their original premise of efficiency. In order for a CFL to 'warm up' to full capacity, you actually have to leave it on for at least 15 minutes. Every time you turn it on. So what will most people do? Leave it on ALL the time of course! This is comparable to the genius of the low-flush toilet, and maybe it's the same bozo who thought of both. Until the manufacturing of low-flush toilets finally caught up to their limitations, the rest of us just FLUSHED TWICE or more, out of necessity. Guess what? Benefits gone! So let us be intelligent rather than politically correct for the short term. Let us think about the big picture instead of letting legislators be swayed by the greasy palms of Philips Corp. (who make the CFL technology). And as if we needed another reminder, here's another reminder... after touting ethanol as the 2nd coming, we now have farmers who can't afford the feed for livestock, and food prices are rising as a result. This cycle can not be un-done for several more years. Why can't Congress use some modicum of common sense, in addition to the 'priceless' input of lobbyists and industry experts. It is a question that continues to baffle me.

Posted by: Caroline on July 14, 2008 11:21 AM


I broke a CFL last year and didn't understand the ramifications of doing so. I tossed the CFL into the garbage. Two weeks later I had routine blood tests done with abnormal liver results. It took 6 months before the blood tests returned to normal. CFLs are definitely dangerous and the point made about manufacturing in China is good. CFLs are easy to break.

Posted by: Steve on September 30, 2008 12:46 PM


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