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Incandescent Light Bulbs are Now Largely Banned in the USA - and I Suggest Avoiding Fluorescent/CFL Bulbs
1/7/2014

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1/7/2014 - Incandescent Light Bulbs are Now Largely Banned in the USA - and I Suggest Avoiding Fluorescent/CFL Bulbs (Health)

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Incandescent Light Bulbs are Now Largely Banned in the USA - and I Suggest Avoiding Fluorescent/CFL Bulbs
Tuesday, January 7th, 2014
06:26:40 GMT

Health

(Note: I'm not an expert on anything scientific or health-related. I'm just a layperson expressing some thoughts and opinions practically off the top of my head. Apologies if I made any mistakes or omitted anything important.)

As of January 1, 2014, ordinary incandescent light bulbs are largely banned in the United States. Unless I'm mistaken, they can still be used, as well as bought until they're sold out - but they can't be manufactured or imported.

CNN.com - Obit: RIP, light bulb

I guess this was done to supposedly save the environment. Unfortunately, I suspect fluorescent/CFL light bulbs which contain mercury are probably far more dangerous to health and the environment than incandescent bulbs, overall.

In my opinion, if any light bulbs should be banned, it probably ought to be fluorescent/CFL bulbs.


The cleanup procedure for broken fluorescent/CFL light bulbs is frighteningly elaborate - and this EPA page's tips don't all sound entirely environmentally friendly to me.

What makes the incandescent bulb ban particularly bad, in my opinion, is that potentially toxic fluorescent/CFL bulbs might be one of the cheapest currently unbanned alternatives. (Except some halogen bulbs might be cheaper upfront, judging by this page: TomsGuide.com: 2014 Incandescent Bulb Ban: Here Are Your Alternatives. However, FamilyHandyman.Com: The Pros and Cons of Halogen Bulbs says halogens can be at least 4 times more expensive than incandescent bulbs - among other drawbacks, like increased fire hazards.)

I'm guessing many people either won't be able to afford expensive (but hopefully safer) alternatives such as LED lights, or will try to save money even if they can afford LEDs.

And many people will probably not dispose of the fluorescent/CFL bulbs properly, but will just stick them in the trash like any old light bulb - which might actually be legal to do in many places. This EPA page says you can do that if it's legal where you are.

So, I'm very worried that the amount of mercury pollution in the environment and in people's homes, etc. might go up a lot because of the ban on incandescent light bulbs. If incandescent bulbs hadn't been banned, most people would probably keep using incandescent bulbs instead of ever resorting to potentially toxic fluorescent/CFL light bulbs.


I'm definitely going to totally avoid using fluorescent/CFL light bulbs at all. Mercury poisoning is a horrible thing. :-( And I'm guessing society and the environment in general probably have had too much of it already from amalgam dental fillings, mercury in vaccines, etc.

Given how dangerous mercury is, fluorescent/CFL bulbs are far more deserving of being banned than incandescent bulbs, in my opinion.


From what I've read, LED bulbs almost seem like they might be one of the best remaining alternatives to incandescent light bulbs - except they might contain dangerous substances like lead, arsenic, nickel, etc.

See: Scientific American: The Dark Side of LED Lightbulbs

But at least, unlike fluorescent/CFL bulbs, LED bulbs don't have mercury, and they might be less fragile/breakable than fluorescent/CFL bulbs.

And, also fortunately, the problems with LED lights might be fixable, or least, possible to partially alleviate. The aforementioned Scientific American article says:

According to Ogunseitan, LED makers could easily reduce the concentrations of heavy metals in their products or even redesign them with truly safer materials, especially if state or federal regulators required them to do so. “Every day we don’t have a law that says you cannot replace an unsafe product with another unsafe product, we’re putting people’s lives at risk,” he concludes. “And it’s a preventable risk.”

However, I don't know if those problems in LEDs have been fixed yet. Until I know for sure LEDs have been made as safe as possible, I won't feel entirely comfortable using them or recommending them.


Despite incandescent bulbs' inefficient wasting of energy, I'm very worried that the widespread use of potentially toxic, mercury-containing fluorescent/CFL bulbs (and perhaps the use of LEDs too, unless they get redesigned to get rid of unnecessary toxic materials) might turn out to be worse in the end than just letting everyone continue to use incandescent bulbs would have been.

What if turns out to be as disastrous as the widespread use of leaded gasoline and lead paint was?


Perhaps we'd be better off if incandescent bulbs were unbanned until LED bulbs are made more safe? (And if it's possible to make much safer fluorescent/CFL bulbs too, that would be great.)


Here are some more interesting Scientific American links:

Another worrying thing I've run across is comments and product reviews on other websites in which some people say they think fluorescent bulbs gave them migraines, etc., and that their problems went away when they got rid of the bulbs.


The typical ugliness of LED and fluorescent/CFL lights is a relatively minor issue compared to their potential toxicity, but, it's certainly aggravating enough to be worth mentioning as well.

Perhaps the best alternative (at least aesthetically speaking) might be high-efficiency incandescent bulbs? (Those were mentioned in the abovementioned CNN article.) I hope they're as nice as normal incandescent bulbs. I wonder if maybe they're as cheap, too?

And most importantly, as safe? Don't know. (Actually, I don't even know absolutely for sure how safe normal incandescent bulbs are, but presumably much safer than fluorescent/CFL, judging by how hard it is to properly clean up fluorescent/CFL bulbs, and given that normal incandescent bulbs don't contain mercury.)


Or, maybe halogen. Unless I'm mistaken (which is very possible), my family may have had a halogen lamp when I was a child - a tall upward-pointing lamp with a dimmer switch, casting nice indirect light throughout the living room. I definitely liked that, so, if it was actually halogen, I guess halogen might be an aesthetically acceptable option. At dim settings, it was pleasantly atmospheric, and at brighter settings, it was quite adequately bright (and probably even possible to make it too bright, can't remember), and quite good enough to read by, as well.

I didn't find its light harsh or glaring, and actually thought it had a pleasant color, similar to normal incandescent bulbs - but actually maybe even nicer, brighter and clearer. And it seemed like it never burnt out, and we used it for maybe like 5 years or so. I think we stopped using that lamp after we moved when I was a teenager, and I don't know what became of it after that. Wonder if it would still work now, about 20 years later?


Or, hopefully aesthetically pleasing LED bulbs exist, somewhere. That might be best from an energy-saving perspective, because they are probably much more energy-efficient than halogen bulbs and high-efficiency incandescent bulbs. They're also more efficient and supposed to last longer than fluorescent/CFL bulbs, and are also supposedly not as much of a fire hazard as any of them.

Too bad about the possible lead, arsenic, nickel, etc., though - but at least it sounds like it might be possible to make LEDs without using those materials. I wonder if it's even possible to make fluorescent/CFL bulbs without mercury?


(Note, 12:07 PM. I edited and reorganized this article a fair bit after first posting it early this morning. Sorry about the temporary downtime of my website earlier today; it was so slow earlier I couldn't even successfully post my edits. And I was so annoyed with being stuck with the previous version I decided I'd rather just have nothing up until I could post the improved version.)

(Note: I'm not an expert on anything scientific or health-related. I'm just a layperson expressing some thoughts and opinions practically off the top of my head. Apologies if I made any mistakes or omitted anything important.)


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