Study Finds that Twirlie Lightbulbs Pose Health Hazard (In Addition to the Mercury!)
While filling in at WPRO last week, John Loughlin shared a political rumor that Governor Chafee might take a position in the Obama administration – in the Department of Energy as (and it’s possible that John was being facetious about this title) the Deputy Undersecretary of Twirlie Lightbulbs.
In that possibly fictional position, Mr. Chafee would have an increasingly steep marketing hill to climb. By now, the health hazard posed by the mercury contained in CFL bulbs is pretty well known. (Side question: why is mercury released from coal unacceptable but mercury released from a politically correct light bulb just fine? Don’t they both cause nerve damage?)
Now the latest. A study conducted last summer, which just popped up, H/T, on Breitbart, indicates another problem with CFL bulbs. If you’re too close to them, they hit you with UV light. You know, that cancer-causing spectrum emitted by the sun? PBS has a pretty good explanation.
First we had to understand why a household light bulb would produce UV light in the first place. As it turns out, all fluorescent light bulbs contain mercury vapor, which emits a lot of UV rays when hit with an electric current. Normally that UV is absorbed by a layer of molecules, called phosphors, on the inside of the bulb and reappears as safe white light.
But if that phosphor coating cracks, UV light escapes. And according to the researchers at Stony Brook, defects are common. They saw bald spots in nearly all the bulbs they collected from retail stores.
“Nearly all”? Oh, goodie.
About six months ago, the fourth CFL lighbulb burned out in my apartment. I was thrilled when CFL’s originally came out. Thrilled, that is, until, a couple of years later, it became clear that 1.) they did not last NEARLY as long as advertised and 2.) when they burned out, there was a very good chance that they would release their mercury into the room. (One of the prior CFL bulbs that had burned out turned out, upon examination, to have had a small hole in the twirlie glass, indicating that the mercury had definitely been released.)
What a way to live! Waiting for light bulbs to burn out and petrified of the nerve damage that almost certainly would result when they did so. Forget it. With the burnout of CFL Bulb Number Four, I needed light bulbs. After a little searching, I located and stocked up on 100 watt incandescent bulbs. Now, with this latest study, I’m doubly glad that I did. Al Gore and Lisa Jackson, you can keep your hazardous CFL bulbs. Nerve damage and skin problems are too high a price to pay to “save the planet”, whether or not it has a fever.
[Monique is Deputy Editor of the RISC-Y Business Newsletter.]