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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.

Light therapy can relieve symptoms of seasonal depression December 1, 2009

Posted by Dr. Z Bulbs in Uncategorized.
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Light Bulbs Always Make Me Happy!

Zoinks! Here is a great article on using light help treat seasonal depression. It comes from the Cleveland.com website. Useful info!

Dr. Z

https://www.zbulbs.com/

Light therapy can relieve symptoms of seasonal depression

By Angela Townsend, The Plain Dealer

Kim Sherwin’s recent two-and-a-half week trip to Europe, made partly to watch the Cleveland Orchestra performances in Vienna, Austria, was perfect except for one thing.

She forgot her portable light therapy device.

The contraption is what helps Sherwin endure the overcast, dark and dreary days from September through March.

Sherwin, 70, of Cleveland, suffers from seasonal affective disorder, or SAD.

SAD is a form of depression marked by its consistency of almost always occurring in late fall or early winter.

The decrease in sunlight, compounded by shifting the clock back one hour, can affect an individual’s internal clock that regulates the sleep-wake rhythm.

And that, in turn, can do a number on energy levels. Symptoms include sleeping more than usual, eating more, particularly carbohydrates, and having an overall tendency to hibernate deeply.

For Sherwin, that meant staying in bed most days until afternoon.

“It just gets grimmer and grimmer, and I don’t want to get out of bed,” she said.

That’s where light therapy comes in. Five years ago, Sherwin, who takes antidepressants for other forms of depression, started using light therapy every morning.

Light therapy is the best form of treatment for seasonal affective disorder, says Dr. George Tesar, chairman of the department of psychiatry and psychology at the Cleveland Clinic.

Light therapy is not about sitting in a room illuminated with regular or fluorescent bulbs.

Nor is it jetting off to a warm, sunny climate for a few days, although that might provide fleeting relief.

Rather, it’s exposure to a special light with a particularly high intensity.

“Your eyes have to be open, and the back of your eyes need to see this light,” Tesar said. “The light that hits your retina triggers the changes in the brain that result in a positive response that relieves the depression.”

The light helps regulate one’s internal alarm clock, or circadian rhythm. It also helps regulate melatonin, the sleep hormone, and serotonin, the chemical in the brain that helps relay signals from one area of the brain to another. Changes in serotonin levels can affect a host of things, such as mood, appetite, sleep and memory.

The best time for light therapy is first thing in the morning, for about 30 minutes a day. Most people start to notice subtle changes in the first couple of weeks. But “the moment you stop using it, the effects start to wear off,” Tesar said.

Antidepressants (such as Wellbutrin, the only drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration for the specific treatment of SAD) are also available for more severe cases if light therapy isn’t effective.

“It’s best to avoid medication if you can,” Tesar said. “But if other treatments don’t work, it’s shortsighted not to try medication. Sometimes that’s the only thing to help re-regulate the chemical environment of the brain.”

Experts also recommend reducing carbohydrate intake, exercising more, staying social and getting fresh air whenever you can.

Light therapy, which has not been approved by the FDA to treat seasonal affective disorder, isn’t designed for everyone (extra caution is needed for people with pre-existing eye disease and certain mood disorders).

It’s easy to order devices online or buy them in stores, but using them should be done under a doctor’s supervision.

A couple of years ago, Sherwin stopped using a big light box and switched to a newer product the size of a compact disc holder.

Today, Sherwin eats breakfast and reads the newspaper while her Litebook sits off to the side, providing her light therapy for 30 minutes every morning.

“It just starts to grow on you,” Sherwin said. “So many people complain about the problems they have, but I just don’t think people know about these machines.”

The Litebook Co. is collaborating with Harvard University, Yale University and universities in Canada and the Netherlands on a clinical trial that started last December to explore how the product can be most effective in treating SAD.

“People have always acted like broad spectrum light is important, but it’s the pattern of light that’s important,” said Dr. Paul Desan, an assistant professor of psychiatry at Yale University who is coordinating the study.

Desan and his team are testing to see how the Litebook affects a person’s circadian rhythm. “Right now, [no device] that has been developed has been approved by the FDA to treat seasonal affective disorder,” Desan said. “We’d like to change that. We think this is the direction that the field is going in.”

Finding the right light

At least a dozen companies sell a wide variety of light therapy products — visors, alarm clocks, floor lamps, big light boxes — even though the Food and Drug Administration has not approved their use to treat seasonal affective disorder. Here’s some things you should know before buying.

What to look for

A good starting point for picking a product is to look for the unit of light intensity, or LUX. Special light therapy products often have 10,000 LUX, versus 500 LUX of a standard light bulb.

It’s important that the product emit little or no ultraviolet light. Some newer products use blue light instead of the standard white light found in most light therapy boxes. Some research suggests that blue light is more effective at reducing SAD symptoms; however, the retina is much more sensitive to blue light than it is to white light and could be damaged if directly exposed.

Check your insurance

Light therapy usually isn’t an item that insurance companies uniformly cover, but it’s worth checking with your provider; sometimes providing documentation of a SAD diagnosis from a physician is all you need.

How Many Lightbulbs? November 2, 2009

Posted by Dr. Z Bulbs in cfl, compact fluorescent, light bulb, Light bulbs in pop culture.
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Zoinks! Check Out Physicist David Mackay’s video of how  the  light bulb  provides a graphic way of communicating to non-physicists the scale of the energy gap now facing our society! Light bulbs will always lead the way for me!

Dr. Z


Zbulbs: Make the Switch!

Cambridge University physicist, David Mackay, in a passionate, personal analysis of the energy crisis in the UK, in which he comes to some surprising conclusions about the way forward. The film is based on his new book Sustainable Energy without the hot air, in which Prof Mackay has calculated the numbers involved for the alternatives to fossil fuels like coal, gas and oil.

He debunks some myths about energy saving – unplugging our phone chargers, does not make any appreciable difference. After showing us what won’t work – he goes on to show what will make a difference at home, like turning your thermostat down.

But, his big point is that this will not be enough – individual efforts are not enough. Instead we need to make sweeping national changes to our energy production, and we can’t reject everything available to us. If we are going to follow the advice of climate scientists, and get off fossil fuels by 2050, which currently provide 90% of our energy, Britain’s main options are wind power and nuclear power. But to make this huge change in our power supply, Mackay says that we have to get building now!

For more information go to David Mackays website
http://www.withouthotair.com

Resitance to EU’s lightbulb ban October 29, 2009

Posted by Dr. Z Bulbs in cfl, compact fluorescent, Controversial information, incandescent light bulb, light bulb, Light bulbs in pop culture.
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Zoinks! The European Light Bulb ban is still a controversial subject! Seems some of the citizens don’t want to let go those incandescents! Check out this LA Times article!

Dr. Z

https://www.zbulbs.com

 

 

Resistance to EU’s lightbulb ban By Henry Chu Los Angeles Times

FRANKFURT, Germany – Ulf Erdmann Ziegler takes a dim view of the newfangled lightbulbs people are required to buy, so dim that he has stocked up on 3,000 of the old, incandescent bulbs – enough, he has calculated, to last him his lifetime. His stockpile is the fruit of a frenzied shopping spree. For weeks, he spent many of his waking hours on the phone and online tracking down vendors and snapping up incandescent bulbs. The buying binge was necessary, he said, to beat a ban by the European Union. As of Sept. 1, the manufacture and import of 100-watt incandescent bulbs have been outlawed within the EU, to be followed by bulbs of lesser wattage in coming years. Once current stocks are gone, incandescent bulbs will join Thomas Edison in the history books. The ban is part of the EU’s effort against global warming. The object is to encourage people to switch from energy-wasting incandescent bulbs to compact fluorescent lamps, which last longer and are up to 75 percent more efficient. For EU officials, it’s all about the math. Ditching the older bulbs, they say, will save 40 billion kilowatt-hours a year by 2020 – equal to the output of 10 power stations. The United States is to begin phasing them out in the next few years. But not everyone considers it such a bright idea. Dissenters have sprung up across the Continent, people who complain that fluorescent lamps are inferior, cost more, and pose their own environmental problems. Art galleries fret over how best to display their works without the warm glow of incandescent bulbs. A petition to save the conventional bulb is circulating on the Internet. “There’s been quite a bit of consumer backlash,” said Peter Hunt, chief executive of Britain’s Lighting Association. To help consumers and manufacturers get used to the change, the EU decided not to ax all incandescents at once. The ban from September covers only clear bulbs of 100 watts and frosted ones of all wattages. Clear incandescent lamps of 60 and 40 watts are to be eased out by September 2012. The advantages of the ban outweigh any deficiencies, EU officials say. Good-quality fluorescent bulbs can last years, far longer than conventional bulbs, so while they cost more, they are more economical in the long run. The new lamps also save on electricity costs because of their more efficient use of energy. In conventional bulbs, most of the energy is lost as heat rather than converted to light. Then how to explain that low-energy fluorescent lamps have been around for 25 years but have never caught on with ordinary consumers? “The early ones were the size of large jam jars, they flickered, they had a cold blue light, and they took a long time to switch on,” Hunt said. The technology has improved considerably, Hunt said. None of that matters to Ziegler. Months before the Sept. 1 deadline, he went through every room of his apartment with a floor plan, marking an X wherever there was a light fixture and noting what kind of bulb it required. His local vendor worked out how many bulbs Ziegler would need for the next decade. “I said forget 10 years,” Ziegler recalled. “I want a lifetime supply.”

Drying up of lightbulbs has German in a lather October 19, 2009

Posted by Dr. Z Bulbs in cfl, compact fluorescent, incandescent light bulb, Light bulbs in pop culture.
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Germans torn between incandescent and fluorescent

Germans torn between incandescent and fluorescent

ZOinks! The Controversy over the European Incandescent Light Bulb Ban continues. This Oct 17th article from the LA Times gives the lowdown..

-Dr. Z

https://www.zbulbs.com/

Reporting from Frankfurt, Germany – Here’s a twist: How many lightbulbs does it take to change a person?

For Ulf Erdmann Ziegler, the answer is 3,000. That’s how many bulbs are squirreled away in his modest apartment here in Frankfurt, the number that turned an otherwise ordinary guy into a hoarder, made him the object of his neighbors’ pity and got him thinking about death and divorce.

His enormous stockpile is the fruit of a frenzied summer shopping spree. For weeks, he spent many of his waking hours on the phone and online tracking down vendors and snapping up enough incandescent bulbs to last him the rest of his life.

The buying binge was necessary, he said, to beat a ban by the European Union. As of Sept. 1, the manufacture and import of 100-watt incandescent bulbs have been outlawed within the EU, to be followed by their dimmer brethren in coming years. Once current stocks are gone, such bulbs will join Thomas Edison in the history books.

“It will run out,” Ziegler warned of the limited supply, “and everyone will be sorry.”

The ban is part of the EU’s effort to retard global warming. The object is to encourage people to switch from traditional energy-wasting incandescent bulbs to compact fluorescent lamps, which last longer and are up to 75% more efficient.

For EU officials, it’s all about the math. Ditching old-fashioned bulbs, they say, will save nearly 40 billion kilowatt-hours a year by 2020, equivalent to the output of 10 power stations. Australia has already abandoned incandescent bulbs, and the United States is set to begin phasing them out in the next few years as well.

But not everyone considers it such a bright idea. The ban has been met with some resistance in Europe, showing what happens when the collective goal of greening the planet clashes with issues of individual choice and even aesthetics.

Dissenters such as Ziegler have sprung up across the continent, people who complain that fluorescent lamps are inferior, more expensive and come with their own environmental problems. Art galleries fret over how best to display their works without the warm glow cast by incandescent bulbs. A petition to save the conventional bulb is circulating on the Internet.

There have also been reports of runs on lighting stores. In Britain, where major retailers began taking 100-watt incandescent bulbs off their shelves even earlier, in January, a retired teacher in southern England spent $800 of her pension to buy 1,000 of them.

“There’s been quite a bit of consumer backlash,” acknowledged Peter Hunt, chief executive of Britain’s Lighting Assn. “A lot of it we expected.”

To help consumers and manufacturers get used to the change, the EU decided not to ax all incandescent bulbs at once. Last month’s ban covers 100-watt clear bulbs and all frosted ones. Clear 40- and 60-watt incandescents are to be eased out by September 2012.

The advantages of the ban outweigh any deficiencies, EU officials say. Good-quality fluorescent bulbs can last years, many times the life span of regular bulbs, so although they cost more, they are more economical in the long run.

The new lamps also cut electricity bills because of their more efficient use of energy. In conventional bulbs, most of the energy is lost as heat rather than converted to light.

“You can . . . look at it the same way that you’re looking at improvements of washing machines and fridges, where consumers don’t even notice that the fridges [have] become more efficient,” said Andras Toth, a policy officer in the EU’s energy directorate.

Maybe. But then how to explain that low-energy fluorescent lamps have been around for 25 years but have never caught on with consumers? Though he supports the switch-over, Hunt acknowledges that there were good reasons why fluorescent bulbs were passed over on store shelves.

“The early ones were the size of large jam jars, they flickered, they had a cold blue light and they took a long time to switch on,” he said. “So it’s not surprising that consumers have a bad preconception of this lighting.”

The technology has improved considerably on all those counts, Hunt said. But fluorescent bulbs haven’t shaken their bad rap.

Their start-up time still lags well behind the instant on-and-off of incandescent bulbs. They cannot be used with dimmer switches. And the most commonly available ones still do not provide the same spectrum of light as the old lamps, which worries art collectors, photographers and others who need light sources that offer sharp color rendition. (Officials point out that halogen bulbs, which give off light of a similar quality to incandescent varieties, remain on the market.)

Then there is the fluorescent bulbs’ mercury content, up to 5 milligrams per bulb. Cleaning up a shattered bulb requires more than just sweeping up jagged shards: Users should ventilate the room and avoid touching pieces with bare skin.


Still, “if you compare it to other mercury content, like dental fillings, the amount we’re talking about is really rather small,” Toth said. “And you have to be extremely unlucky to be exposed to it in a dangerous way.”

None of that cuts any ice with Ziegler.

A writer and former art critic, he sees the EU’s ban as unnecessarily extreme. Why not slap a tax on the old-fashioned bulbs, rather than outlaw them entirely?

“The law just says you can’t use the best lightbulb ever invented,” he grumbled.

A few months ago, with the Sept. 1 deadline looming like a neon sign, he decided to take preemptive action.

With typical German precision, he went through every room of his apartment with a floor plan in hand, marking an X wherever there was a light fixture — about 25 in all — and noting what kind of bulb it required. Then he took the checklist to his local vendor, who worked out how many bulbs Ziegler would need for the next decade.

“I said forget 10 years,” Ziegler recalled. “I want a lifetime supply.”

That, though, posed an unanticipated question. At 50, he suddenly had to ponder — or guess — how much longer he expected to live. He drafted his wife into his existential contemplations, and together, like actuaries, they finally decided that a lifetime supply meant enough bulbs to last 30 years.

Laying his hands on 3,000 incandescent bulbs was another story. He cleaned out one supplier and went on to the next, seeking them out on the Internet. Bulky packages kept arriving at the apartment, and “I was not unaware of the pitying looks of my neighbors,” he confessed in a newspaper column.

Thankfully, his wife supported his panic buying, because she “hates [fluorescent bulbs] even more than I do,” Ziegler said.

But that sparked yet another uncomfortable discussion. Who gets custody of the hoard in case of divorce? (Stay tuned.)

For now, the incandescent cache is carefully stowed away in the attic, to which Ziegler disappears to extract an unusually shaped bulb to show a visitor the way a wine lover might disappear down the cellar to produce a prized bottle of Chateau Lafite Rothschild.

Ziegler still hopes the EU ban will somehow fail, or be repealed. He’s mulling the idea of writing a political manifesto on behalf of the incandescent bulb, laying out its history and its merits.

And he urges people to build their own stockpiles as soon as they can, before supplies dry up.

“If you want to get in on it, get in,” he said. “It’s not too late.”

Save the Light Bulb! Wall Street Journal Editorial speaks up for Incandescents! September 28, 2009

Posted by Dr. Z Bulbs in compact fluorescent, Controversial information, incandescent light bulb, LED Lights, light bulb.
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Zoinks! Check out this editorial piece from the Wall Street Journal extolling the virtues of incandescent light.

Dr. Z

www.zbulbs.com

 

 

Dude! Save Incandescent they are a wicked electro clash band...

Dude! Save Incandescent they are a wicked electro clash band...

 


By HOWARD M. BRANDSTON

The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 will effectively phase out incandescent light bulbs by 2012-2014 in favor of compact fluorescent lamps, or CFLs. Other countries around the world have passed similar legislation to ban most incandescents.

Will some energy be saved? Probably. The problem is this benefit will be more than offset by rampant dissatisfaction with lighting. We are not talking about giving up a small luxury for the greater good. We are talking about compromising light. Light is fundamental. And light is obviously for people, not buildings. The primary objective in the design of any space is to make it comfortable and habitable. This is most critical in homes, where this law will impact our lives the most. And yet while energy conservation, a worthy cause, has strong advocacy in public policy, good lighting has very little.

Even without taking into account people’s preferences, CFLs, which can be an excellent choice for some applications, are simply not an equivalent technology to incandescents in all applications. For example, if you have dimmers used for home theater or general ambience, you must buy a compatible dimmable CFL, which costs more, and even then it may not work as desired on your dimmers. How environmental will it be for frustrated homeowners to remove and dispose of thousands of dimmers? What’s more, CFLs work best in light fixtures designed for CFLs, and may not fit, provide desired service life, or distribute light in the same pleasing pattern as incandescents. How environmental will it be for homeowners to tear out and install new light fixtures?

None of these and other considerations appear to have been included in the technical justification for this law. Instead, the decision appears to have been made entirely based on a perception of efficiency gains. Light-source efficacy, expressed as lumens of light output per watt of electrical input, has been used as a comparative metric justifying encouragement of CFLs. But this metric is flawed for one simple reason: It is a laboratory measurement and a guide, not a truth, in the field; actual energy performance will depend on numerous application characteristics and product quality.

If energy conservation were to be the sole goal of energy policy, and efficacy were to be the sole technical consideration, then why CFLs? If we really want to save energy, we would advocate high-pressure sodium lamps—those large bulbs that produce bright orangish light in many streetlights. Their efficacy is more than double what CFLs can offer. Of course this would not be tolerated by the public. This choice shows that we are willing to advocate bad lighting—but not horrible lighting.

Not yet, at least. Energy regulations pending in Washington set aggressive caps on power allowances for energy-using systems in commercial and residential buildings. These requirements have never been tested.

Here’s my modest proposal to determine whether the legislation actually serves people. Satisfy the proposed power limits in all public buildings, from museums, houses of worship and hospitals to the White House and the homes of all elected officials. Of course, this will include replacing all incandescents with CFLs. At the end of 18 months, we would check to be certain that the former lighting had not been reinstalled, and survey all users to determine satisfaction with the resulting lighting.

Based on the data collected, the Energy Independence and Security Act and energy legislation still in Congress would be amended to conform to the results of the test. Or better yet, scrapped in favor of a thoughtful process that could yield a set of recommendations that better serve our nation’s needs by maximizing both human satisfaction and energy efficiency.

As a lighting designer with more than 50 years of experience, having designed more than 2,500 projects including the relighting of the Statue of Liberty, I encourage people who care about their lighting to contact their elected officials and urge them to re-evaluate our nation’s energy legislation so that it serves people, not an energy-saving agenda.

Mr. Brandston (www.concerninglight.com) is a lighting consultant, professor and artist.

Light bulb ban finds some Europeans in the dark September 10, 2009

Posted by Dr. Z Bulbs in cfl, compact fluorescent, Controversial information.
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A display shows a traditional light bulb (l.) and two energy-saving bulbs at a do-it-yourself store in Dortmund, Germany on August 31.

A display shows a traditional light bulb (l.) and two energy-saving bulbs at a do-it-yourself store in Dortmund, Germany on August 31.

Zoinks! More controversy over the lightbulb ban in Europe! Check it out!

Dr. Z

www.zbulbs.com

 

Light bulb ban finds some Europeans in the dark

By Andrew Heining

 

Um, lighten up?

A week after the EU’s light bulb ban went into effect – traditional filament, incandescent bulbs over 100 watts may no longer be bought by retailers, though old stock may be sold until it’s gone – some Europeans are hoarding – and howling.

Old habits die hard, and among the Europeans proving the saying true are patrons at Chris Abbott’s “Abbott’s DIY,” a British hardware store with two branches. Abbott told Sky News, and the Dartmouth Chronicle reports, that:

“Everyone wants to be more environmentally friendly, but in some cases the low energy bulbs are just not suitable and until there is a viable alternative the opinion I am getting is that they should not yet be banned, until such time that there is a better quality alternative.”

“In both our stores we have seen unprecedented buying of all traditional types of light bulbs, and speaking to other hardware retailers across the region they are all experiencing the same.

“But as the ban is only on import and manufacture, retailers are still allowed to sell them, so we have filled our storeroom up to bursting point so that we can continue to supply our customers for at least the next few years.”

One possible answer to the light-quality complaints: this LED-based bulb from Sharp. As design blog Inhabitat reported in June, the bulb comes with a dimmer-switch remote control that can change the output between seven shades of white. One concern it doesn’t address? The cost. The Sharp bulbs cost $82 apiece.
But hoarding the old-style bulbs doesn’t make much economic sense, either, government officials are saying. CFLs use significantly less energy, and immediately begin paying themselves off. The New York Times
explains:

One bulb can cost €10, or $14 — or a lot more, depending on type — whereas traditional incandescent bulbs cost about 70 cents each. But E.U. officials argued that the energy savings would cut average household electricity bills by up to €50 a year, amounting to about €5 billion annually. That would help buoy the economy if consumers spent their savings, they said.

That rationale isn’t swaying some Britons. They’ve found a loophole in the plan and are exploiting it. The new ban covers light bulbs sold for home use, but it can’t touch those meant for industrial applications. As Telegraph reader Brian Rogers told the paper:

I suggest you pay a visit to your local electrical wholesaler and ask for a “rough service” lamp. These are identical to the normal ones except for slightly thicker glass envelopes and extra filament supports. They are more robust than the normal household item as their main use is in garage pit inspection lights and they need to stand up to more abuse.

The US has a similar CFL mandate going into effect in 2012. In addition to the concerns already mentioned, some in the US are decrying the health hazards of the new bulbs.

CNN, in its spectacularly headlined “The fluorescent light bulb boogeyman,” points to a 2007 case in Maine, where a woman, aware that CFLs contained toxic mercury, called state officials who told her to bring in a hazardous waste cleaning crew – to the tune of $2,000. That advice was given before an official policy on CFL disposal was implemented, Maine officials told CNN, and users are no longer advised to call in the troops in hazmat suits when a bulb breaks.

“According to the Environmental Protection Agency,” CNN reports, “the average fluorescent light bulb contains about 4 milligrams of mercury, over 100 times less than found in an old mercury thermometer.”

CNN News article: The fluorescent light bulb boogeyman September 4, 2009

Posted by Dr. Z Bulbs in cfl, compact fluorescent, Controversial information, light bulb.
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CFL Bogeyman, Dr. Z

CFL Bogeyman, Dr. Z

Gadzooks! The light bulb bogeyman is here and its only Sept! CNN weighs in CFLs and their percieved  “danger”

Dr Z

www.zbulbs.com

 

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) — So now the government’s going to tell you what light bulb to buy, and it could be hazardous to your health.

That was the takeaway from some conservative and libertarian-minded folks when the energy bill of 2007 mandated more efficient lighting that would lead to a gradual phase out of many incandescent bulbs. Europe’s ban began this week and the new U.S. rules take effect in 2012.

The concept of the government dictating light bulbs seemed too juicy for some groups to pass up. The fact that the more efficient fluorescent bulbs contain mercury – a highly toxic element – gave actual grounds for objection.

But environmentalists point out that the increased electricity required to run a regular lightbulb from a powerplant produces a lot of mercury too.

Nonetheless, criticism of fluorescent bulbs was fast and furious.

“Everyone is being urged, cajoled and guilt-tripped into [replacing] Thomas Edison’s incandescents,” wrote the WorldNetDaily, a news Web site that bills itself as “a free press for a free people.” “However, there is no problem disposing of incandescents…you can throw them in the trash can and they won’t hurt the garbage collector…they won’t kill people working in the landfills.”

The poster-child for the anti-fluorescent bulbers is Brandy Bridges, a mother in Maine who broke a bulb in her daughter’s bedroom a couple years back.

Bridges, aware the bulbs contained mercury, called state officials, who came over, did tests, and told her to have the room cleaned by a hazardous waste crew – to the tune of over $2,000. Maine officials eventually came to her house and cut out the carpet.

This story has been widely circulated on the Internet, and sharp criticism of the government mandate continues today from email chain letters to rants on Capitol Hill.

The mandate, which doesn’t ban incandescent bulbs but requires much greater efficiency that will effectively take most of them off the shelf, phases in starting in 2012. One in Europe began earlier this week.

But much of the fear surrounding fluorescent light bulbs may be overblown.

When contacted about the Bridges case, Maine officials said the advice to get a professional hazardous waste cleaner and remove the carpet was given before a policy on fluorescents was fully developed. They no longer tell people to call a hazmat crew or remove rugs, unless the homeowner is particularly concerned.

Maine regulators, along with national environmental groups, consumer advocates and the federal government, all still recommend using the energy-saving bulbs.

When it comes to safety, they say the amount of mercury in a fluorescent bulb is so small it should not present a health risk. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the average fluorescent light bulb contains about 4 milligrams of mercury, over 100 times less than found in an old mercury thermometer.

Consumer Reports just did extensive testing of the bulbs and found that many contain even less mercury – some had just 1 milligram.

“It’s not something to panic about,” said Celia Kuperszmid Lehrman, deputy home editor at Consumer Reports. “Tube fluorescents like we all have in our offices and schools have mercury too, and it’s not like they evacuate a school every time a bulb breaks.”

Still, the bulbs should be handled with care if broken. EPA recommends several steps including cleaning up the glass with cardboard or another item that can be disposed of after, opening the window, and putting the remnants in an outside garbage can.

If your town collects other household hazardous waste like batteries, paint or cleaning supplies, then you should dispose of the bulbs in the same manner. Home Depot and Ikea will recycle any old fluorescent bulbs, no mater where they were purchased.

Also, if the light is close to small children or pets that may easily knock it over, it’s probably best to use another type of bulb. Efficient, mercury-free incandescents like halogen lights, as well as LED lights will still be available after the new efficiency standards kick in.

The benefits of using fluorescent bulbs, experts say, far outweighs any mercury risk.

When it comes to mercury content, a fluorescent bulb ends up putting far less mercury into the environment compared to all the extra electricity required to run an inefficient bulb – four times less mercury, according to Noah Horowitz of the Natural Resources Defense Council.

If the whole country switched to fluorescents, says Horowitz, it would eliminate the need to build 30 new coal power plants and save as much electricity as used by all the homes in Texas.

Then there’s the cost savings. Consumer reports estimates that each incandescent replaced with a $1.50 fluorescent will save an individual $56 in electricity costs over the life of the bulb.

“You’d be hard pressed to find a better deal for your wallet or the environment,” said Horowitz.

Still, some people remain unconvinced.

For starters, many say if fluorescent bulbs were really better, people would buy them on their own.

For her part Bridges, contacted at her home in Maine, says she’ll never go back to fluorescent bulbs and has little faith in experts telling her what’s safe.

“Remember, at some point lead paint wasn’t a big deal either,” she said.

NY TIMES: Europe’s Ban on Old-Style Bulbs Begins September 3, 2009

Posted by Dr. Z Bulbs in cfl, compact fluorescent, Controversial information, incandescent light bulb, Light bulbs in pop culture.
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Gadzooks here is a great article on the  Incandescent ban in Europe from the pages of the NY Times. Enjoy!

Dr. Z

www.zbulbs.com

 

Europe’s Ban on Old-Style Bulbs Begins

 

By JAMES KANTER

Published: August 31, 2009
BRUSSELS — Restrictions on the sale of incandescent bulbs begin going into effect across most of Europe on Tuesday in the continent’s latest effort to get people to save energy and combat global warming. But even advocates concede the change is proving problematic.

Leon Neal/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Stores in the European Union will no longer be allowed to buy or import most incandescent frosted glass bulbs starting Tuesday.

 

 

 

Under the European Union rules, shops will no longer be allowed to buy or import most incandescent frosted glass bulbs starting Tuesday. Retailers can continue selling off their stock until they run out.

While some Europeans are eagerly jumping on the bandwagon, others are panicking and have been stockpiling the old-style bulbs for aesthetic or practical reasons. Others are resigned to the switch, if grudgingly.

“Why are we switching? Because we have to,” said Ralph Wennig, a 40-year-old photographer shopping on Monday at BHV, a Paris department store.

The new compact fluorescent lamps are billed as more economical in the long run because they use up to 80 percent less energy and do not burn out as quickly.

“But the downside is that the light isn’t as nice,” Mr. Wennig said, “and they are more expensive individually.”

One bulb can cost €10, or $14 — or a lot more, depending on type — whereas traditional incandescent bulbs cost about 70 cents each. But E.U. officials argued that the energy savings would cut average household electricity bills by up to €50 a year, amounting to about €5 billion annually. That would help buoy the economy if consumers spent their savings, they said.

At a briefing Monday in Brussels, however, they also were defending themselves against charges that they were depriving children of traditional fairground lights, and dealing with more serious questions about health hazards from the mercury in the new lamps.

Such arguments have already started to reverberate in the United States, where incandescent bulbs are due to be phased out starting in 2012.

Until then, the E.U. is providing the biggest staging ground for both the conversion as well as a debate over trade-offs created by environmental legislation. The issues include the loss of long-standing manufacturing industries, consumer choice and possible exacerbation of other environmental hazards.

The ban is one of a series of measures to support the E.U. goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent by 2020. Everything from televisions to washing machines to tiny motors are being made more energy-efficient.

But the light bulb ban has proved singular in the way it has stirred fierce debate. The ubiquity of lighting and the way it can alter the aesthetics of an interior, even the experience of reading a book, makes it somehow more personal.

E.U. countries are not the first to ban incandescent light bulbs, but they are in the vanguard.

Australia has already introduced a ban and Cuba has entirely shifted to compact fluorescent bulbs, according to Andras Toth, an expert with the European Commission, the E.U. executive agency.

Consumer advocates in Europe have cautiously welcomed the measures but they also have pointed to drawbacks for consumers — especially those who have a special sensitivity to certain kinds of light or need old-style bulbs for health reasons.

“The blanket ban could spell misery for thousands of epilepsy and anxiety sufferers who are adversely affected by energy-saving bulbs,” said Martin Callanan, a European Parliament member.

He also warned that the new bulbs would not work in all types of fixtures nor with dimmer switches, and that they would give off a harsh light.

E.U. officials sought to reassure consumers that they still would have plenty of choice, and that the changes would be gradual. The clear 60-watt bulb, one of the most commonly used, would remain available until at least September 2011, and clear 40-watt bulbs until 2012.

National governments will be responsible for enforcing the rules.

However, the European Commission acknowledged that compact fluorescent lamps had to be handled with extra caution. If one breaks, people are advised to air out rooms and avoid using vacuum cleaners when cleaning up the mess to prevent exposure to mercury and other electronic parts in the bulbs, officials said. Instead, householders should remove the debris with a wet cloth while avoiding contact with skin. Used bulbs should be put in special collection receptacles, officials said.

Stephen Russell, the secretary general of ANEC, a group representing consumer interests in the development of product standards, said the commission had set the limit for mercury too high.

E.U. officials said that they would find ways to push the industry to reduce the amount of mercury to levels around 2 milligrams per bulb from the current level of 5 milligrams per bulb.

The effects of the ban are likely to be felt first at the checkout counter, where supplies of old-style bulbs soon could dry up entirely.

In Germany, consumers have been taking the precaution of stockpiling old-style light bulbs. Sales of incandescent bulbs have increased by 34 percent during the first half of this year, according to GfK, a consumer research organization.

“Some delay may happen before you get all possibilities at reasonable prices,” said André Brisaer, another European Commission official, who is helping to lead the phase-out.

Other consumers have complained that compact fluorescent bulbs do not last as long as incandescent bulbs when turned off and on like a standard bulb and that they take too long to illuminate fully. In those cases, commission officials have recommended that consumers use halogen bulbs, which brighten more quickly and are up to 45 percent more energy-efficient than incandescent bulbs.

But WWF, an environmental group, said standard halogen bulbs should also have been removed from the market.

“Getting rid of incandescents is a no-brainer, but halogens are nearly as wasteful,” said Mariangiola Fabbri, a senior energy policy officer for WWF.

As for fairgrounds, E.U. officials insisted that adequate replacements were available that would retain their soft-white traditional ambiance

European Union Begins Ban of Incandescent Light Bulbs September 1, 2009

Posted by Dr. Z Bulbs in cfl, compact fluorescent, Controversial information, incandescent light bulb.
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The Incandescent Ban: Coming to a country near you!

The Incandescent Ban: Coming to a country near you!

Gadzooks! The EU has begun their ban the incandescent light bulb. Below is an article about the stir it is causing throughout Europe and even worldwide. Remember the EU is not the only one banning the incandescent. Heck the US is planning on a 2012 ban with some restrictions beginning as soon as 2010.

Dr. Z

www.zbulbs.com

 

ABC’s Samantha Fields reports from London: Across Europe today, a mundane household object is causing quite a stir — the incandescent light bulb, which is now living on borrowed time. The European Union Tuesday began enforcing a ban on incandescent bulbs, in an effort to save energy and combat global warming. Under the ban, factories are no longer allowed to produce the frosted glass bulbs, and retailers are not allowed to import them, though they can continue selling ones they already have. Conceived by Thomas Edison, incandescent light bulbs were first produced commercially in 1879, and in the 130 years since, almost nothing about them has changed. Now, though, the traditional bulbs are being replaced by the more energy-efficient — and more expensive — compact fluorescent bulbs. While some Europeans are in support of the ban and the reasons behind it, many others are mourning the endangered bulbs, which are cheaper, and give off a warmer glow. Some people are even rushing to stockpile incandescent bulbs, which will remain on the shelves only until retailers sell out of their existing stock. In Germany, sales of incandescent bulbs were up 35 percent in the first half of the year. One objection to the ban is that compact fluorescent bulbs cost around $14 a piece, compared to less than a dollar each for a traditional bulb. But the initial cost of the bulbs, officials say, is offset by energy savings down the line, and by the fact that compact fluorescent bulbs tend to last longer than incandescent ones. By E.U. calculations, making the switch to compact fluorescent bulbs, which use 80 percent less energy, could save each household more than $70 a year on electricity bills. Even if people can be convinced on the financial front, though, many are up in arms over the ban for other reasons. People who suffer from a variety of conditions, such as epilepsy, anxiety and lupus, say that fluorescent light has an adverse affect on their health. Others are concerned about the levels of mercury found in the bulbs. Compact fluorescents also tend to take longer to illuminate, cannot be used with dimmer switches, and emit a harsher light. That, in many ways, is what it comes down to: quality of light. Though the European Union is not the first to ban incandescent bulbs — Australia and Cuba have also done so — its experience will serve as a preview for the U.S., which is planning to phase them out starting in 2012. As the battle against climate change moves increasingly front and center, proponents of the energy-guzzling incandescent bulb seem to be fighting a losing battle. Still, they’re unlikely to let Edison’s bulbs go out without a fight.