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Are CFL Light Bulbs Safe? The real story from ABC. May 21, 2010

Posted by Dr. Z Bulbs in compact fluorescent.
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Zoinks Here is a great article on the CFL’s and how to responsible use one of these little buggers! This article is taken from ABC byJohn Matarese.

https://www.zbulbs.com/

CFL Light Bulb Risks Last Update: 5/20 7:03 pm If you’re like most people, you now have at least one or two of those squiggly Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs in your home. And you may be buying more soon. Like it or not, the government is pushing us to purchase more and more CFL’s –compact fluorescent lights — because they save energy. But do they come with extra risks the stores and government don’t want us to know about? Some homeowners are wondering: Could be also be inviting a risk of explosions, fire, and even mercury poisoning? Bulb explodes without warning Tom and Nancy Heim were watching TV recently, when Tom decided to turn on the floor lamp next to his recliner chair. “I heard this loud pop…I saw what I thought was smoke, coming out o the top of the floor lamp,” says Tom. Nancy suddenly found glass in her lap. She says, “I did not see it. I just heard it, and I noticed i had glass on me.” Their concern. The bulb could have started a fire or exposed them to dangerous mercury vapor. Risk of explosion or fire So we checked with the U.S. EPA, and found found some reassuring news. The EPA says its records show the risk of a bulb exploding is extremely rare. And in most cases it has investigated, the bulb had been damaged at some point, such as having been dropped on the floor. According to the EPA, it’s almost impossible for a CFL bulb to start a fire, as all UL approved bulbs have a safety shutoff fuse in the base. If the glass breaks, the fuse cuts out, and there no more current goes into the bulb.

Is there a  risk of mercury poisoning?

But what about the mercury vapor they may have breathed?

Last year, we asked Dr. Kim Dietrich, an Environmental Engineering Professor, to break and test a CFL bulb for mercury. Research Assistant Professor Joo-Youp Lee shattered a bulb inside a sealed bag…then put the bag on a mercury vapor analyzer.

No question, he says, the bulb contained a measurable amount of mercury.

However, Dr. Dietrich says the amount found is minuscule compared to thermometers we used to put in our mouths.

According to Dr. Dietrich, “It would take 100 shattered CFL bulbs to equal the amount of mercury in an older thermometer.”

What if a bulb breaks?

Despite that reassuring news, the U.S. EPA has a list of steps you should take if you break a bulb.

  • The EPA says open a window and ventilate the room for 15 minutes.
  • Then use cardboard to sweep up the remains of the bulb
  • Wearing rubber gloves, use a wet paper towel to wipe the area.
  • Finally, seal it all in a plastic bag, and dispose.
  • The EPA says do not vacuum the room, or you could spread mercury dust around.

The EPA says the amount in one bulb is not enough to create a health hazard.

To prevent problems

To prevent problems, and extend bulb life, the EPA suggests you:

  • Do not use CFL bulbs in bathrooms, or anywhere they will be turned on and off all day.  Frequent powering up and down reduces their life.
  • Do not use standard CFL’s in dimmer switches. Low voltage reduces their life
  • Three-way lamps are fine, however, as the contacts on the base of CFL bulbs are different from three-way bulbs, and they will not turn on with the low voltage setting.

So while a bulb explosion may scare you, it’s unlikely it will cause a fire or any real damage.

And despite Internet rumors, a broken bulb will not turn your home into a Hazmat zone.

The government says it is safe to continue using them.  As always, don’t waste your money. Is there a  risk of mercury poisoning?

But what about the mercury vapor they may have breathed?

Last year, we asked Dr. Kim Dietrich, an Environmental Engineering Professor, to break and test a CFL bulb for mercury. Research Assistant Professor Joo-Youp Lee shattered a bulb inside a sealed bag…then put the bag on a mercury vapor analyzer.

No question, he says, the bulb contained a measurable amount of mercury.

However, Dr. Dietrich says the amount found is minuscule compared to thermometers we used to put in our mouths.

According to Dr. Dietrich, “It would take 100 shattered CFL bulbs to equal the amount of mercury in an older thermometer.”

What if a bulb breaks?

Despite that reassuring news, the U.S. EPA has a list of steps you should take if you break a bulb.

  • The EPA says open a window and ventilate the room for 15 minutes.
  • Then use cardboard to sweep up the remains of the bulb
  • Wearing rubber gloves, use a wet paper towel to wipe the area.
  • Finally, seal it all in a plastic bag, and dispose.
  • The EPA says do not vacuum the room, or you could spread mercury dust around.

The EPA says the amount in one bulb is not enough to create a health hazard.

To prevent problems

To prevent problems, and extend bulb life, the EPA suggests you:

  • Do not use CFL bulbs in bathrooms, or anywhere they will be turned on and off all day.  Frequent powering up and down reduces their life.
  • Do not use standard CFL’s in dimmer switches. Low voltage reduces their life
  • Three-way lamps are fine, however, as the contacts on the base of CFL bulbs are different from three-way bulbs, and they will not turn on with the low voltage setting.

So while a bulb explosion may scare you, it’s unlikely it will cause a fire or any real damage.

And despite Internet rumors, a broken bulb will not turn your home into a Hazmat zone.

The government says it is safe to continue using them.  As always, don’t waste your money.

Changing a Light Bulb on the Empire State Building-Video June 5, 2009

Posted by Dr. Z Bulbs in Uncategorized.
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Gadzooks! This video of Photographer Joe McNally as he climbs to the top of the Empire State Building multiple times to get “the ultimate light bulb changing shot” for the National Geographic story on The Power of Light.

Dr Z

www.zbulbs.com

State proposes CFL disposal legislation April 8, 2009

Posted by Dr. Z Bulbs in cfl, compact fluorescent, Controversial information, light bulb, List Article.
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What should we do with this guy when he burns out?

What should we do with this guy when he burns out?

Gadzooks! Its me Dr. Z! Seems Compact Fluorescent are in the media yet again! Turns out some states are looking to put forth some legislation to make sure these little spiral buggers are disposed of properly.  Check out the article below for the info!

ZOinks!

Dr. Z

www.zbulbs.com

 

Energy-saving lights now poised to pollute Bill would require makers to accept, dispose of dead ones

BY JOHN RICHARDSON
Portland Press Herald

Mainers have installed millions of energy efficient compact fluorescent bulbs in recent years, thanks in part to state incentives aimed at saving energy and slowing global warming.

Now the state is trying to make sure all those bulbs don’t get thrown into the trash when they eventually burn out. Each one contains a small amount of mercury which, when added up, can poison waterways, fish and people.

Legislation to be presented at the State House today would require makers of the bulbs to set up and promote a statewide collection and recycling program.

Conservationists say the idea will keep an environmental success story from turning into an environmental problem. A group of manufacturers, however, warns that the proposed solution will make the bulbs so expensive that many Mainers may stop buying and installing them.

The proposal is expected to be the most controversial of several mercury-related bills to be presented at a public hearing before the Legislature’s Natural Resources Committee starting at 9:30 a.m. today.

If it passes, Maine would be among the first states to create such a manufacturer-financed recycling system for the squiggly lamps. Several other state Legislatures are considering similar proposals.

“Compact fluorescent bulbs are great products,” said Matt Prindiville, a lobbyist for the Natural Resources Council of Maine, the bill’s primary supporter. “They save energy, they save money, they reduce pollution, they reduce global warming (emissions). But, unfortunately, they contain small amounts of mercury and they need to be disposed of properly.”

Last year alone, Mainers used state rebates to buy 1.2 million of the bulbs, he said. “In five years, those 1.2 million bulbs are going to be coming out of people’s light sockets, and unless we get a successful program in place most of them are going to go into the trash.”

Maine has banned a long list of products that contain mercury in an effort to keep the toxin out of landfills and incinerators. Mercury pollution is the reason the state says pregnant women and children should not eat too much locally caught fish. Other bills to be presented today would phase out or ban the sale of mercury-containing button cell batteries, automobile wheel weights and rifle recoil suppressors.

Compact fluorescent light bulbs have been promoted by the state despite the mercury content because of their other environmental benefits. By reducing the need to make so much electricity, they can even reduce mercury pollution overall, especially if they are recycled.

Efficiency Maine, a state program that promotes use of the bulbs, has set up free spent-bulb collection bins at about 200 retail stores statewide. The program costs about $40,000 a year and recycled a total of 4,723 bulbs in 2008, according to the Public Utilities Commission, which operates Efficiency Maine. That effort is financed by electricity ratepayers.

Towns and cities in Maine also collect the bulbs for recycling, although some charge a fee or only accept them at special collection days.

Most of the bulbs, as well as fluorescent tubes that contain even more mercury, are still going into the trash, according to John James, an environmental specialist with the state Department of Environmental Protection. “We’re one of the better states in the nation, but we only account for 5 percent of the lamps” being recycled, he said.

The DEP is supporting the recycling bill, which also would set limits on the amount of mercury in bulbs sold in Maine.

A statewide recycling program that’s convenient, aggressively promoted and supported by manufacturers would likely capture more bulbs, and would shift the cost away from taxpayers and ratepayers back to the manufacturers, according to Prindiville. Manufacturers will pass the cost onto consumers, he said, but the added cost won’t be enough to discourage Mainers from buying the bulbs and saving energy and money over the long term.

The cost of recycling the bulbs under Maine’s program is now about 75 cents per bulb, according to Prindiville. But, he said, an analysis done by officials in the state of Washington found that manufacturers could do it by spreading the cost and adding only 15 cents to the cost of bulbs that typically cost $1.60 to $3.

A group representing light bulb manufacturers, however, said the impact on prices is sure to be much larger, as much as $1 or more per bulb.

Representatives of the National Electrical Manufacturers Association could not be reached Thursday, but the group has outlined its opposition to the proposals in Maine and other states in letters and policy papers posted on its Web site.

The association has been supportive of recycling programs. But last month it dropped out of talks to develop a national solution after leaders of the effort supported Maine-style legislative proposals emerging around the country.

The group says the cost of recycling bulbs is high compared to the amount of mercury that is kept out of the environment. A bulb typically contains 3 to 5 milligrams of mercury, at least 100 times less than old-fashioned mercury thermometer.

And, it says, the recycling cost will be even higher if manufacturers are forced to create a whole new collection and recycling system, rather than relying on existing programs.

“Efforts to adjust retail prices of (compact fluorescent bulbs) to incorporate recycling costs could increase the price of CFLs by 50 percent or more,” according to a recent policy statement posted by the association. “Higher prices could depress sales and hinder efforts to meet state and regional energy conservation goals.”

Zbulbs.com is now open! April 7, 2009

Posted by Dr. Z Bulbs in cfl, compact fluorescent, light bulb.
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ZBulbs.com (https://www.zbulbs.com) the Best Bulbs in ZWorld. Our collective 150 yrs experience will dazzle you with knowledge in long life, high performance lighting products that are environmentally friendly. We cover the whole spectrum of light bulbs from compact fluorescent light bulbs to incandescent light bulbs, H.I.D., fluorescent tubes, halogens, and ballasts. Dr. Z will exceed your expectations of knowledge.

https://www.zbulbs.com

Stop Flicking Those Switches! Your CFL’s life may depend on it. February 9, 2009

Posted by Dr. Z Bulbs in How to about lighting.
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Dr Z , your friendly neighborhood lightbringer! Gad-Zooks!

Dr Z , your friendly neighborhood lightbringer! Gad-Zooks!

Zoinks! Its Dr. Z, the lama of luminescence here to help you find a better way of lighting. Do you remember when you were a little kid how much fun it was to flick the lights off and on really fast? (in Mr Y’s case this has continued on to his adult life) Well I certainly remember the childhood joys of such activity (until I found a much better way of producing that effect.. strobe lights! ) But more to the point.. This age old pastime is putting the life of your compact fluorescents in jeopardy.

Compact fluorescents are best when they are on for a long time. These lamps can take up to 3 mins to warm up before the achieve full brightness. Now this probably will not be noticed by most users but the lamp does need some time to warm up for efficient operation.  Compact fluorescents are best suited to place where you need the lights on for long periods (10 mins and up). Switching them on and off frequently will greatly effect their life and will not allow you to reap the energy saving benefits that these bulbs allow for.  If you have an area where you are turning the light on and off alot you may want to stick with good old fashioned incandescents. If you are like Mr. Y and like flicking those lights on and off really fast just for the fun of it.. I suggest the strobe light it is much more useful for stimulating the alpha waves..

 

Zoinks!

Dr Z

www.zbulbs.com

 

p.s. Strobes and strobe like effects (like flicking the switches)  can trigger seizures in photosensitive epilepsy. Thus, most strobe lights on sale to the public are factory-limited to about 10-12 flashes per second in their internal oscillators, although externally triggered strobe lights will often flash as frequently as possible. At a frequency of 10 Hz, 65% of affected people are still at risk. The British Health and Safety Executive recommend that a net flash rate for a bank of strobe lights does not exceed 5 flashes per second, at which only 5% of photosensitive epileptics are at risk. It also recommends that no strobing effect continue for more than 30 seconds due to the potential for discomfort and disorientation. (Wikipedia)

Why using regular Compact Fluorescents on dimmer switches make Dr Z sad.. January 23, 2009

Posted by Dr. Z Bulbs in How to about lighting.
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Sigh..If only they had used a dimmable compact fluorescent for that dimmer switch..the horror the horror

Sigh..If only they had used a dimmable compact fluorescent for that dimmer switch..the horror the horror

Zoinks! Its Dr. Z

Don’t use regular compact fluorescent on a dimmer switch. You may kill an innocent lightbulb! If you need to use a a compact fluorescent on a dimmer switch, buy a bulb that is specifically made to work with lightbulbs! All you have to do is check the package and it will say if it can be used with dimmers or not! The life of compact fluorescent is in your hands. Using a regular compact fluorescent bulb with a dimmer will not only nullify the bulb’s warranty it is a fire hazard.

Be safe and save a bulb!

gadZooks!

Dr Z

www.zbulbs.com

 

OVER AND OUT

The Shocking Truth behind CFLS!-A quick explanation on how compact fluorescents work January 21, 2009

Posted by Dr. Z Bulbs in Definitions about product., Uncategorized.
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The Shocking truth behind Compact Fluorescents!

The Shocking truth behind Compact Fluorescents!

Zoinks! Its me Dr Z, yet again.
Why are Compact Fluorescents so much more efficient? Well to start with they produce light in a completely manner than an incandescent lightbulb.  Incandescent bulbs create light by heating a filament inside the bulb; the heat makes the filament white-hot, producing the light that you see.The incandescent lightbulb is essentially a little heater where only 10% of the energy it uses actually produces light while 90% is lost as heat. The compact fluorescent(and all fluorescents for that matter)essentiallycontains a lighting bolt within a glass filled tube! The tube contains a gas that produces invisible ultraviolet light (UV) when the gas is energized by a electric charge. The UV light hits the white phosphor coating inside the fluorescent tube and this coating transforms it into light.

Its a chain reaction man! Shocking!

zoinks!! Until next time..

Dr Z

www.zbulbs.com

A guide to switching Incandescent light bulbs to CFLs January 21, 2009

Posted by Dr. Z Bulbs in How to about lighting, Uncategorized.
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oops! wrong spiral!

oops! wrong spiral!

Zoinks its me Dr. Z!

So you want to change out those old incandescent bulbs for hi tech Compact Fluorescent and have no idea where to start? You probably know by now that CFL’s are 4-6 times more efficient than incandescent lightbulbs, which means a 13 watt cfl can replace a 60 watt incandescent. (Remember CFl’s give you more light per watt than an incandescent.) So to make things simple I have included a simple little chart below that will help you in finding the CFL you need.

Standard Bulb   CFL Bulb
40w = 10w
60w = 13w-15w
75w = 20w
100w = 26w-29w
150w = 38w-42w
250w-300w = 55w

Hope this helps!

zoinks

Dr. Z

www.zbulbs.com

The World’s Oldest Working Lightbulb January 14, 2009

Posted by Dr. Z Bulbs in Weird Bulb News.
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The hardest working bulb in the business!

The hardest working bulb in the business!

 

ZOinkS! It Dr. Z ( www.zbulbs.com ) back again and coming to you from Zbulb labratories! I have come up with the perfect road trip for you bulb fanatics! Deep in the within a fire station in Livermore, California there is a incandescent light bulb that has been burning for over 100 years (most incandescents last at most 6 months to a year) This light bulb has even gained attention in Great Britain and the BBC even did a special article on it!
Check out what they had to say:

The Livermore Light

Less than 25 years after ‘the Wizard of Menlo Park’ secured his patent, the Shelby Electric Company made a carbon-filament lamp with a hand-blown bulb. To be more accurate, they made thousands, but one in particular found its way to the hose-cart house of the fire department of Livermore, California. It was first switched on in the summer of 1901. The same bulb is still working more than a hundred years later1. The claim of World’s Oldest Lightbulb has been verified by the Guinness Book of Records, and is said to be ratified by newspaper records and a technical audit by General Electric.

The ‘Livermore Light’ has burned continuously for most of its life, putting out a steady four watts or thereabouts. It originally served as a nightlight, illuminating the area where the fire-tenders were housed, but has long since progressed to the status of revered curiosity. It has been moved without mishap a couple of times over the years, most recently in 1976 to the current site of the station at 4550 East Avenue.

The bulb’s hundredth birthday was celebrated on 8 June, 2001 with a community barbecue. Three bands provided live music: one contemporary, another playing 1950s tunes and the third performing in the style of the first years of the 20th Century. The Livermore Light has its own website and is open to visits by the public.  http://www.centennialbulb.org/photos.htm

The above link has a web cam where you can see the bulb burning up close and personal! Yowza! Its not the brightest bulb but its there for the long haul.

Zoinks! I’m over and out.

Dr. Z

Livermore, CA (turned on 1901-1905)

Livermore, CA (turned on 1901-1905)

What To Do When a Compact Fluorescent Breaks! January 8, 2009

Posted by Dr. Z Bulbs in Controversial information, How to about lighting.
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mercuryglob

Mercury is a common element found many household items from thermometers to fluorescents

 

Zoinks! Its Dr. Z here to help you with your lightbulbs! Much has been said about what you should do if a compact fluorescent bulb breaks..Unfortunately lots of misinformation has been out there about what to do about clean up and mercury. In case you don’t know all fluorescent lights contain a small amount of mercury in them to aid in the production of light. Now mercury is a poisonous substance that can be harmful to human and ecological health so you want don’t want take it for granted, but it is certainly not on the level of nucleur waste like some goofballs think(No it does NOT take $2000 to clean up a Compact Fluorescent). So to clear things up I decided to referance the people who now how to keep it clean. The EPA (Enviromental Protection Agency) On their website the EPA states :

What to Do if a Fluorescent Light Bulb Breaks
Compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) are lighting more homes than ever before, and EPA is encouraging Americans to use and recycle them safely. Carefully recycling CFLs prevents the release of mercury into the environment and allows for the reuse of glass, metals and other materials that make up fluorescent lights.

EPA is continually reviewing its clean-up and disposal recommendations for CFLs to ensure that the Agency presents the most up-to-date information for consumers and businesses. Maine’s Department of Environmental Protection released a CFL breakage study report on February 25, 2008. EPA has conducted an initial review of this study and, as a result of this review, we have updated the CFL cleanup instructions below.

Pending the completion of a full review of the Maine study, EPA will determine whether additional changes to the cleanup recommendations are warranted. The agency plans to conduct its own study on CFLs after thorough review of the Maine study.
Frequently Asked Questions about Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs and Mercury (PDF) (2 pp., 71K, About PDF)

Learn more about recycling and disposal options for fluorescents

Find fluorescent light bulb recycling programs in your area

Learn more about compact fluorescent light bulbs from the ENERGY STAR program
Fluorescent light bulbs contain a very small amount of mercury sealed within the glass tubing. EPA recommends the following clean-up and disposal below. Please also read the information on this page about what never to do with a mercury spill.

Before Clean-up: Air Out the Room

Have people and pets leave the room, and don’t let anyone walk through the breakage area on their way out.
Open a window and leave the room for 15 minutes or more.
Shut off the central forced-air heating/air conditioning system, if you have one.
Clean-Up Steps for Hard Surfaces

Carefully scoop up glass pieces and powder using stiff paper or cardboard and place them in a glass jar with metal lid (such as a canning jar) or in a sealed plastic bag.
Use sticky tape, such as duct tape, to pick up any remaining small glass fragments and powder.
Wipe the area clean with damp paper towels or disposable wet wipes. Place towels in the glass jar or plastic bag.
Do not use a vacuum or broom to clean up the broken bulb on hard surfaces.
Clean-up Steps for Carpeting or Rug

Carefully pick up glass fragments and place them in a glass jar with metal lid (such as a canning jar) or in a sealed plastic bag.
Use sticky tape, such as duct tape, to pick up any remaining small glass fragments and powder.
If vacuuming is needed after all visible materials are removed, vacuum the area where the bulb was broken.
Remove the vacuum bag (or empty and wipe the canister), and put the bag or vacuum debris in a sealed plastic bag.
Clean-up Steps for Clothing, Bedding and Other Soft Materials

If clothing or bedding materials come in direct contact with broken glass or mercury-containing powder from inside the bulb that may stick to the fabric, the clothing or bedding should be thrown away. Do not wash such clothing or bedding because mercury fragments in the clothing may contaminate the machine and/or pollute sewage.
You can, however, wash clothing or other materials that have been exposed to the mercury vapor from a broken CFL, such as the clothing you are wearing when you cleaned up the broken CFL, as long as that clothing has not come into direct contact with the materials from the broken bulb.
If shoes come into direct contact with broken glass or mercury-containing powder from the bulb, wipe them off with damp paper towels or disposable wet wipes. Place the towels or wipes in a glass jar or plastic bag for disposal.
Disposal of Clean-up Materials

Immediately place all clean-up materials outdoors in a trash container or protected area for the next normal trash pickup.
Wash your hands after disposing of the jars or plastic bags containing clean-up materials.
Check with your local or state government about disposal requirements in your specific area. Some states do not allow such trash disposal. Instead, they require that broken and unbroken mercury-containing bulbs be taken to a local recycling center.
Future Cleaning of Carpeting or Rug: Air Out the Room During and After Vacuuming

The next several times you vacuum, shut off the central forced-air heating/air conditioning system and open a window before vacuuming.
Keep the central heating/air conditioning system shut off and the window open for at least 15 minutes after vacuuming is completed.

http://www.epa.gov/mercury/spills/index.htm#fluorescent

Holy Cats! They are nothing if not thorough aren’t they? Well until next time!

Git Lit and Stay Lit

Dr. Z

www.zbulbs.com