I remember initially being excited about what seemed like a step in the right direction when the US started urging consumers to switch from the old incandescent bulbs to CFLs. Then I started hearing and reading about all the drawbacks and dangers of CFLs, yet the government is still pushing for them and saying they are perfectly fine….even though directions for dealing with a broken bulb include initially vacating the area and opening windows for ventilation, then putting on protective gloves for clean up and sealing all contents in an air-tight bag.
Hmmmm, if something is so safe, why all the extreme safety precautions?! Plus, many people aren’t even aware of the need for special handling and disposal or just don’t bother, endangering themselves, the people around them and the planet. In addition, there are a number of health risks from CFLs even when they AREN’T broken or burnt out, so the whole idea now seems like a big step backwards as far as I can tell. Read the following information and decide for yourself….
(anh-usa.org) – 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.
Visit Alliance for Natural Heath for more information.
And here’s another article, this time from Blanche Levine for NaturalHealth365.com….
(NaturalHealth365) The new energy efficient light bulbs – called compact fluorescent lights (CFL) – are a danger to the public. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), emergency procedures must be followed in the event a light bulb breaks, due to the vapours it will release. But, according to new research, that may be the least of our worries.
Experts speak out about the threat of CFLs
The official EPA broken bulb clean-up procedure attests to the dangers of this new lighting. It states that people and pets must leave the room, open windows to air out the room, and also shut off the central heating or air-conditioning system.
The next advice is to collect the broken bulb pieces and for this you need on hand stiff cardboard, sticky tape, damp paper towels or wet wipes, a glass jar with a metal lid or a sealable plastic bag. It is advised not to vacuum until all other cleanup steps have been done as vacuuming can spread the mercury containing powder or vapour.
You are told, when done, to place debris and cleanup materials along with vacuum cleaner bags, outdoors in a trash container. Some local government require fluorescent bulbs to be taken to a recycling plant. Does this sound like a safe product to have in our homes?
The unknown threats of compact fluorescent bulbs
Money saving, compact fluorescent light bulbs emit high levels of ultraviolet radiation, according to a new study. Research at Long Island’s Stony Brook University found that the bulbs emit rays so strong that they can actually burn the skin and skin cells.
“The results were that you could actually initiate cell death”, said Marcia Simon, a Professor of Dermatology.
Exposure to the bulbs could lead to premature aging and skin cancer, according to doctors. “It can also cause skin cancer in the deadliest form, and that’s melanoma,” said Dr. Rebecca Tung.
“When there is something in your house, you don’t perceive any danger, you wouldn’t get that close to an x-ray in a doctor’s office,” explained Miriam Rafallovich, Professor of Materials Science at Stony Brook.
So now it turns out these bulbs are also dangerous when they don’t break. The protective phosphor coating inside the glass, which gives the glass its milky white look, can be cracked. The UV rays then can escape to cause damage to those near enough to it. The Stony Brook University study found that all the CFL light bulbs they studied had cracks and imperfect phosphor coating.
Prolonged exposure at distances of 8 inches or less can cause both skin and retinal damage.
Now for the newly discovered dangers of ‘energy efficient’ lighting
There are reports from other countries that point to other problems with using energy efficient light bulbs. The latest claims were made by Abraham Haim, a professor of biology at Halfa University in Israel. What he found is that the bluer light that CFLs emitted closely mimicked daylight.
This disrupts the body’s production of the hormone melatonin more that the older filament bulbs, which give off a yellowed light. His warning is that these bulbs can result in higher breast cancer rates when used late at night. This is precisely when lights are turned on and left on.
German scientists claim that several carcinogenic chemicals and toxins are released when these ‘environmentally-friendly’ lights are switched on, including phenol, naphthalene, and styrene.
Naphthalene is a volatile white crystalline compound produced by the distillation of coal tar. It is used in mothballs. Styrene is a petroleum by-product. These along with mercury are known to cause cancer.
Peter Braun, who carried out the test at the Berlin’s Alab Laboratory, said, “For such carcinogenic substances it is important they are kept as far away as possible from the human environment.”
The side effects of energy efficient light bulbs
The reported (negative) health effects of energy efficient light bulbs include: dizziness, cluster headaches, migraines, seizures, fatigue, inability to concentrate and anxiety.
Very little research has been done before these bulbs became available. The FDA reports that in addition to visible light (UVA), these bulbs also emit UVB and infrared radiation.
Measurements by an independent French research centre showed that these lamps (CFLs) generate powerful electromagnetic fields (EMF) close to the source, up to 1 meter distance. The Flemish Institute for Technological Research have confirmed these results.
There are indications that EMFs emitted by CFLs can travel along the electrical wiring producing “dirty electricity’ throughout the house. A study published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine stated that this dirty electricity can lead to a 5-fold increase in the risk of cancer. This research was found to be true by a Canadian researcher by the name of Magda Havas.
How can United States health authorities allow CFLs to be sold?
Many countries have been able to spot all kind of dangers to this type of lighting, including reporting that the radiation directly can attack the immune system and damage the skin enough so it can’t properly produce vitamin D3.
These light bulbs and lamps have the potential to cause and aggravate many diseases and at the same time damage the environment more profoundly than any old fashion light bulb.
Needless to say, stocking up on ‘old’ light bulbs – that are being phased out – may be a great idea for our health.
More on the dangers of CFLs:
Personal Note: I began replacing all CFLs a couple of years ago when I started reading about the dangers associated with them, but am finding it harder and harder to find the old 100 watt incandescent bulbs I used to use. About a year ago I found Phillips EcoVantage bulbs, which save up to 28% energy and contain NO mercury, plus a 72W is equivalent to an old 100W. I like them a lot.
Also, for off-setting the EMFs emitted by CFLs I highly recommend using Vibes Up products. AND, if you order before the end of the year and use code NORUSH60, you will get 60% off anything not already on sale, except the teddy bears, creams or essential oils.
1/5/14 Update: The special at Vibes Up is still going on, but will likely end any day now. And there’s good news on the light bulb front! Read my new post about a LED SlimStyle bulb Phillips is coming out with:
p.s. Be sure to subscribe to Self-help Health so you don’t miss any future posts. Also check out my new website Evolution Made Easier and blog of the same name for more helpful information, tips, tools and resources.
Disclaimer: Please note that any information here is provided as a guideline only, and is not meant to substitute for the advice of your physician, nutritionist, trained healthcare practitioner, and/or inner guidance system. Always consult a professional before undertaking any change to your normal health routine.