The Truth About Low Energy Lighting
Compact Fluorescent Lamps
Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs) have attracted a lot of negative publicity because of the use of mercury in their manufacture. Mercury is not only toxic but is notoriously difficult to dispose of safely. The amount of mercury in each bulb is small, but collectively adds up to a potentially serious environmental and health risk. Your local council recycling centre may have facilities for disposal of CFLs, but what other alternatives are there?
Low Energy Light bulbs
Laws are being introduced to force "climate friendly" low energy light bulbs on us and to ban the alternative. This has happened in Britain and across Europe, thanks to the European Union. These so-called compact fluorescent lamps, or CFLs, are supposed to be good for the environment. In fact they are seriously dangerous to both human and animal health and bad for the environment.
The bulbs contain mercury which is lethally toxic. Mercury is even more toxic than arsenic and lead and is so dangerous and unsafe - especially for children and the unborn - that it has been banned in many countries for use in a long list of devices. But now our government is insisting by law that we have lights in our homes, workplaces, schools and shops that will release mercury into the atmosphere whenever they are broken.
What to do when a bulb breaks
When a normal bulb breaks, as they sometimes do, we sweep up the pieces and throw them in the bin. But what happens when a fluorescent bulb breaks? Here is the advise of the UK Health Protection Agency:
If a CFL breaks on a solid nonporous surface then it can be cleaned thoroughly, all cleaning materials plus the broken light should be double bagged, placed in a sealed container, clearly labeled as hazardous waste and disposed of at the local council recycling centre. Should the CFL break on a porous surface, such as a carpet, or if mercury falls between floorboards then you should call in a hazardous waste disposal company to clean it up.
The Chemical Incident Response Service also advise that if a mercury spill has been cleaned up using a vacuum cleaner or clothes that have come into contact with mercury are washed in a washing machine then both the vacuum cleaner and the washing machine should be disposed of at your local recycling plant.
The Health Protection Agency says that after a successful cleanup we should keep the area well ventilated for twenty four hours and during this period children and pets should be kept clear of the contaminated area.
Health problems associated with mercury
Some of the health problems that can be caused by mercury are as follows
· Mercury poisoning can occur from ingestion, inhalation or dermal absorption
· Very toxic
· Short-term inhalation of mercury vapour causes cough, breathlessness and chest tightness within a few hours of exposure
· Short-term inhalation of elemental mercury globules may cause inflammation of the lungs, coughing blood and difficulty in breathing
· Stomach upset may occur within a few hours of ingestion of inorganic mercury
· Short-term exposure of the eyes to elemental mercury vapour eyes can cause inflammation and eyelid tremor
· Long-term inhalation of elemental mercury vapour may cause damage to the central nervous system, kidney damage and stomach upsets
· Ingestion of inorganic mercury compounds may cause stomach upsets, kidney failure and damage to the central nervous system
There is no convincing evidence that mercury or mercury compounds cause cancer in humans
Low energy lights
These then are the low energy lights that every government in the western world is forcing onto their unsuspecting citizens in the name of progress.
People do not now, nor will they in the future, treat used fluorescent lights as hazardous waste and will continue to dump them in the bin. Because there are billions upon billions of low energy light bulbs in use daily throughout the world, when these need to be disposed of, we are going to see serious mercury contamination in garbage and landfill sites all over the world.
It is estimated 80 million used fluorescent tubes are being sent to landfill sites in the UK every year! This equates to four tonnes of mercury. This has the potential to pollute ground water supplies, rivers and fish with cumulative and lethal mercury contamination.
Reasons to avoid Compact Fluorescent Lamps
Compact Fluorescent Lamps are potentially deadly when they break and mercury is released, especially for children and the unborn.
The mercury content can have a catastrophic effect on brain and body function.
They should always be disposed of as hazardous waste, and when they are dumped in the trash or landfill sites they create a highly toxic environment that seeps mercury into underground water supplies and rivers.
The whole idea of governments across the world introducing something that is dangerous to both health and the environment to replace something that is working perfectly well is truly beyond belief.
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