Posted by: The Paris Apartment | December 13, 2010

The Dark Side of CFL Bulbs

Brian Killmore/iStockphotos


What is the real energy cost of a CFL?  What does it cost to mine, manufacture, package, ship, sell, operate, dispose of CFLs on the environment? These are questions ignored by CFL promoters.

Consider this – instead of saving the environment, CFLs are actually destroying it. CFLs should be thought of as toxic technology, when mercury contamination, ultraviolet radiation, and radio frequency radiation are factored in. From cradle to grave, CFLs pose a danger to people’s health and well being, as well as adding even more toxicity to the environment. In fact, CFLs do not reduce a person’s carbon footprint and may even increase it in some situations. To make matters even worse, CFLs emit harmful levels of electromagnetic radiation.

Starting in the year 2012, regular incandescent bulbs, the ones invented by Thomas Edison over 100 years ago, will be banned in Canada in the pursuit of reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Yet, contrary to popular belief, switching from regular bulbs to CFLs could increase global energy consumption, not reduce it. If that alone does not shake consumer confidence, perhaps the facts that CFLs contain mercury and also emit electromagnetic radiation might give people a wake-up call up to the truth about CFLs.

On the other hand, since CFL producers are being handed a monopoly in the light bulb market by some federal government and are being cheered on by corporatist environmental groups, sales are not about to drop anytime soon.

It seems like the protectors of the environment have jumped ship. Health Canada is simply not doing its job as they ignore the devastating impact of having millions of CFLs in our environment. Why are they sitting by, and allowing the Canadian government to force its citizens to use them?

To make matters even worse, groups such as the Suzuki Foundation and Greenpeace, whom Canadians have come to rely on to protect them from environmental pollutants, have chosen to ignore the potential looming environmental and health risks, and blindly promote the use of CFLs.

Why have environmentalists and the government joined in an alliance with the electrical industry in promoting an undeniably dangerous product? Whose side are they on anyway?

Canadian Health and Safety officials seem to be asleep at the switch, oblivious of the hazards, and environmentalists appear to have sold out, as manufacturers and sellers of CFLs are laughing all the way to the bank.  With impunity “los tres amigos”, the manufacturers, the corporatist environmentalist backers and government, are leaving misled consumers to deal with the aftermath of a potential environmental catastrophe.

Meanwhile, the New Zealand government, citing concerns about CFLs lack of efficiency and safety, has lifted its ban on incandescent bulbs.  Hopefully other governments will see the wisdom in this decision and follow suit.

Corporatist Environmentalists

Corporatism is the dominant ideology in today’s western democracies. “While the corporatist society maintains a veneer of open criticism and democracy, it squelches opposition to dominant corporate interests by using propaganda and rhetoric to obscure facts and to deter communication among citizens. Corporatism creates conformists who behave like cogs in organizational hierarchies, not responsible citizens,” explains Publishers Weekly, reviewing the book Voltaire’s Bastards by John Ralston Saul. These are just some of the attributes of the ideology that has a strangle hold on our society and, it appears, on our major environmental groups as well.

The environment is too important to be left solely to the environmentalists.

Environmentalists with corporatist tendencies can cause a lot of harm when they are not properly scrutinized and held accountable by the public. They have played a huge role in keeping consumers in the dark regarding the hazards posed by CFLs. The Suzuki Foundation and Greenpeace claim that CFLs are good for the environment and no one dares to challenge them.

The disinformation process begins when public awareness of a harmful product, such as a CFL, is restricted by environmental groups. Over time, with no real criticism of the product, a consensus consciousness is created in the public mind that the product is safe.  Finally, in one of the oldest tricks in the book, corporations use these groups as third party endorsers to create a favourable image of a potentially dangerous product. Remember back in the sixties with doctors in TV adds smoking Camel cigarettes?

The evidence that shows that CFLs are hazardous to humans is undeniable. The question is, why are environmental groups willing to risk a safe environment and their reputations by promoting a toxic product?

CFLs Are A Hazardous Product & Do Not Save Energy

It may surprise many people to know that CFLs increase a consumer’s carbon footprint in a ‘cradle to grave’ analysis. Full costs to manufacture, operate and safely dispose of a CFL have never been disclosed to the public. The reality is that residential lighting takes up only 0.8% of energy consumption in Canada.

CFLs are energy hogs to produce, operate and dispose of. Reducing a consumer’s carbon footprint is the CFL’s raison d’être.  But before deciding to switch over to compact florescent lights it would be wise to first review a cradle to grave analysis of the carbon footprint of a CFL, compared to an incandescent bulb.

What is the real energy cost of a CFL?  What does it cost to mine, manufacture, package, ship, sell, operate, dispose of CFLs on the environment? These are questions ignored by CFL promoters.

An International Association for Energy-Efficient Lighting (IAEEL) study conducted in Denmark, explored some carbon footprint factors, but not all, showing it took 1.8 Kwh of electricity to assemble a CFL compared to 0.11 Kwh to assemble an incandescent bulb.  That means it took 16 times more energy to produce a CFL. The study did not include the fact that a CFL is much heavier and is more dangerous to handle, and will thus cost more to package, to ship, and to sell.

This research also did not calculate the energy required to safely dispose of a CFL and reclaim the mercury. The cost of removing mercury from the landfills was also not considered. More over, the potential cost in destroyed lives, illnesses, and lost human productivity due to exposure to mercury and electromagnetic radiation have not been considered.

If such a study could be done, and considered all the negative contributing factors, it would show a CFL has a massive carbon footprint, one that would dwarf a regular incandescent light bulb and it would also show that CFLs will leave behind a wake of environmental destruction.

CFLs Do Not Save On Energy Consumption

Power Factor
An incandescent bulb has a power factor of 1. Most CFLs sold in Canada have a power factor of about 0.55.  That means there are more energy losses in operating the CFL compared to an incandescent bulb.  This does not show up on a power bill but the power company has to supply more power than what the bulb is rated for. Astonishingly, CFLs can take much  more energy to operate than what is on the label and still be listed as an energy star product, something few consumers know. CFL cheerleaders seldom tell consumers that the power factor is not included in their energy consumption calculations.

Heat Loss
Energy efficient bulbs increase greenhouse gases. Because they burn cooler, they cause home heating costs to rise. “Lighting regulations (banning incandescent lights) will increase GHG emissions in Hydro’s service territory by 45,000 tons due to cross effects of a switch to cool-burning bulbs,” explained a BC Hydro spokesperson in 2009 Vancouver Sun article.

The ‘cross effect’ referred to is the loss of heat from hotter incandescent bulbs when we switch over to cooler burning CFLs.  When a 60watt regular bulb is replaced with a 15 watt CFL, 45watts of heat from inside a house is lost. If that is repeated 20 times, 900watts of lost heat now has to be provided for from another source.

To make up for the lost heat consumers have to turn up electric heating, or worse still, turning up their oil or gas furnace which will leave them consuming even more energy and creating more greenhouse gases than before they made the switch.  In the summertime, because of longer natural daytime light, both lighting and heating are used much less. In the wintertime power consumption will rise as lights go on but additional substitution heat is required to compensate for less heat from the CFLs.

Considering the lower power factor as well as the heating losses, it can be concluded that using CFL will not reduce a consumer’s carbon footprint when compared to a regular light bulb. Moreover, instead of saving energy there is good evidence demonstrating that using CFLs will increase the user’s carbon footprint.

CFLs Are Power Dumb

Lighting is a fraction of overall energy consumption and has a limited potential for energy savings.  Nevertheless, North Americans should be conserving wherever possible.  At the same time, people should not forget that switching incandescent bulbs to CFLs poses a whole range of negative environmental and health impacts with very little, if any, energy savings

An electric hot water tank consumes five times as much electricity as residential lighting.

To put lighting energy consumption into perspective, the Sector Sustainability Table listed in the Government of Canada website reports that  “Homes consume 16% of all the energy used in Canada, with lighting using 5% of that figure. Residential lighting therefore represents 0.8% of the total energy consumption in Canada. This means that Canadians are spending millions of dollars on CFLs in a fruitless effort to reduce a fraction of their energy consumption.”

It would be much ‘power smarter’ to focus on residential water heating than light bulbs.  An electric hot water tank consumes five times as much electricity as residential lighting. If hot water heating was made 10% more efficient by using inexpensive technology already available, Canadians would save more energy than the most wildly optimistic predictions of savings by CFL promoters. It would be cheaper, simpler, and have no detrimental environmental effects.

CFLs Are Mercury Polluters

More than 98% of used CFLs end up in landfills each year. That is 675 million for the year 2007 according to theNational Geographic Society. Each CFL contains about 5 milligrams of elemental mercury as well as other poisonous gases.  When mercury enters water sources, biological processes change the chemical form to methylmercury which is the organic, more toxic form found in fish.  Methylmercury bio-accumulates through the food chain and once in the body can affect developing fetuses, children and adult nervous systems.

Methylmercury will not stay in landfills as it easily gets transported through the water table. Throwing CFLs into landfills will contaminate the soil, the water table and eventually the air.

More than 60,000 children are born each year in the United States with neurodevelopment impairments caused by exposure in the womb to methylmercury compounds, according to new estimates by an expert panel convened by the National Academy of Science’s Year 2000.

Beware of a broken CFL, as each broken lamp should be considered similar to a toxic spill and care needs to be taken cleaning them up. The manufacturing of CFLs also exposes workers to toxic levels of mercury. CFLs are manufactured mostly in China with virtually no health, safety, or environmental protection regulations.  Ironically, most of the electricity used to manufacture CFLs comes from coal-fired generators. As CFLs increase in popularity, mercury exposure to workers, to electricians, to maintenance personal, to consumers, to water supplies, and to the living environment, will go ahead almost unchecked.

How many resources and pollutants does it take to make a light bulb?

“The reality is, even energy-efficient products don’t always come from energy-efficient beginnings.  Consider for a second what goes into producing, powering and transporting products around the world like…energy efficient light bulbs. Until they are manufactured in a carbon-neutral way, transported on low-emission vehicles and powered in our homes by cleaner energy—green products will never be as green as they can be,” explained the World Wild Life Fund in MacLean’s Magazine.

Many environmentalists ignore these facts and instead claim that CFLs put less mercury into the environment than what would have been created via a smoke stack to generate the additional electricity needed for regular light bulbs.  This is not true.  Not all electricity is generated by dirty coal-fired plants. Even if it was, this would still be an irrelevant point given that coal fired power plants could operate with 80% less mercury emissions. In any event, it does not apply to BC where 90% of electrical power comes from hydroelectric dams according to BC Hydro. In Canada, 58% of electrical generation is from hydro and 19% from coal, according to Industry Canada.

CFLs Are Electro-Polluters

CFLs emit electromagnetic radiation, a type of energy that can make people very sick. Many people have reported skin rashes and irritation due to ultra-violet (UV) radiation. Radio frequency radiation is even more of a concern.  The effects of exposure to radio frequency radiation, as well as to high voltage spikes and transients, are known to cause illness, are virtually ignored by environmental groups and green building consultants alike.

There has been a ‘rash’ of health problems associated with exposure to electromagnetic radiation such as that emitted by CFLs.

In Sweden, according to polls, up to 290,000 people, or more than 3% of the population, have reported suffering symptoms of EHS when exposed to electromagnetic radiation.  Symptoms range from joint stiffness, chronic fatigue, headaches, tinnitus, respiratory, gastric, skin, sleep and memory problems, depressive tendencies, to Alzheimer’s disease and all classes of cancer.

Hope For The Future

Other than the World Wildlife Fund, almost all the major environmental groups have not informed the public about the dark side of CFLs. Why they behave as they do is unknown but promoting CFLs could potentially diminish these groups credibility when the facts become apparent.

Hopefully, other governments will wake up to the shortcomings of CFLs, and follow the New Zealand government’s example and change their policies on banning incandescent lights due to concerns about safety and energy efficiency of the CFLs. Germany has already restricted the use of fluorescent lighting in public places and has banned fluorescent lights in hospitals perhaps showing that this issue is too great to be shrugged off and ignored. North America appears to be headed in the opposite direction and the Canadian Federal government still plans to ban all incandescent lights before year 2012.

There are incandescent light bulbs on the market right now that last longer than CFLs and are 80% more efficient than a regular bulb.  In 2010, surprisingly, just as the market gets saturated with CFLs, General Electric is coming out with a new high efficiency incandescent bulb. They claim it will be twice as efficient as a regular bulb.

If they live up to their claims these new incandescent lights will rival CFLs for energy consumption, but will not have all the other environmental problems. Then another buying craze will begin and CFLs may begin to be phased out, leaving behind a long-term problem of mercury disposal, remediation, and an untold toll on human health.

In the meantime, the best way for you to reduce your carbon footprint is to follow your mother’s advice and turn the lights off when you leave the room.

Walt McGinnis is a Licensed Electrician and an Electromagnetic Radiation Tester and a member of the EM Radiation Task Force, living on Vancouver Island, Canada. Visit:



  1. Oh no, not 1.8 Kwh (1800 watt hours). With that much power a 100 watt replacement bulb (rated at 23 watts) might take up to a WHOLE DAY (23.3 hours) to pay itself back. 1800/(100-23), do the math. A little due diligence, please.

    If the power company has a proper transformer set up, it mitigates most losses by power factor. The energy doesn’t disappear, it gets sent back to the transformer. Also you never get billed for it.

    Your heat argument is also ridiculous. It’s true that light bulbs produce heat, and incandescent produce a lot more. However, furnaces are a much more efficient means of heating your home. If it wasn’t people wouldn’t have furnaces, they’d have lots of lightbulbs instead.

    • What about what it takes to produce, package and import the bulbs from China? Not to mention having to DRIVE to recycle them if you can find a local toxic waste dump. YOU do the math!

      • Hi Ron,
        Thanks for your comment. I feel your pain and can’t imagine what the world will be like if this trend continues. I’ll do my part to keep on spreading the word and hopefully those PIG tail bulbs will be the ones that are BANNED!

    • Alex,
      one should remember that light bulbs are not used to heat the room –
      therefore their heat efficiency compared to other heating is irrelevant:

      In other words, given that in most temperate climates when it’s dark it’s cold, whatever heat comes out is simply a bonus
      (and is in fact not negligible, research referenced)

      Of course, with air conditioning, noone is forcing you to use incandscents,
      and they might be preferred for light quality or other reasons.

      The paying customers should have a choice:
      They pay for the electricity and how it is produced.
      If that is a problem – deal with the problem, in electricity generation.
      Light bulbs don’t burn coal or release any fumes (hopefully!)
      – it’s not like legislating gasolene powered cars.

      Besides, as covered on the linked website, US grid electricity savings is only about 2% anyway from the lighting regulation, on DOE etc stats
      – much more relevant generation and distribution policy alternatives, as described.

  2. Pretty much in agreement with Alex, above.

    1) If you read the Danish article you linked, you’d see the conclusion is that – on a per lumen hour basis – “the production of [CFLs] does not require more energy than producing incandescent lamps”. (Besides, the energy to manufacture any bulb is only about 1% of the total energy it uses during it’s lifetime … i.e., is negligible).

    2) Your statement regarding power factor is misleading. The CFL power factor of 0.5 actually helps offset inductive power factors in the home (fans, fridges, washing machines, etc.) As Alex stated, no more actual power is consumed (power factor affects transmission to the house and is compensated for by the utility companies).

    3) Yes, CFL’s contain mercury, but if that CFL is powered by coal-fired electricity, it actually reduces solid waste by 3.21 kg (including both gaseous mercury and that attached to fly ash). Mind you, if the electricity is generated from hydro-electric, THEN the mercury impact (from CFLs) would then increase. (It all depends on the total equation … and if the CFL is recycled properly or tossed into a landfill).

    4) The heat loss argument is false, as per Alex’s observation that this heat loss would be replacing more efficiently.

    5) The strongest argument is the one of focus. There’s much ado about lighting (CFL -vs- Incand.), but residential lighting makes up only a minute fraction of the total energy consumed. Better to identify and make reductions and improve efficiencies in industrial, commercial and home electrical loads that make up larger percentages of the total energy consumed.

    I have two issues, however, with CFLs:

    1) As a consumer, I should be able to choose which I prefer and not have this decision usurped by any government (Canada & US Provinces and States are banning incandescent bulb and forcing consumers to purchase CFLs).

    2) There are lighting applications for which CFLs are an inferior choice, compared to incandescent bulbs.

    • Randsco,
      a good thought out reply,
      although you will find a different take on the first 4 points on the site mentioned below…

      Just to take heat efficiency,
      one should remember that light bulbs are not used to heat the room –
      therefore their heat efficiency compared to other heating is irrelevant:
      In other words, given that in most temperate climates when it’s dark it’s cold, whatever heat comes out is a bonus
      (and is in fact not negligible, research referenced)

      • Lighthouse – Thanks for the link. RE: heating … this is EXACTLY the kind of situation where incandescent light bulbs are useful. (i.e., we use the heat from a 100-watt Incandescent to keep the chicken coop warmer in the winter, or progressively lower wattage incandescent bulbs to acclimate chicks, as they grow).

        I had to stock up on such bulbs, recently, b/c the govt (over-extending its reach, once again) has decided that CFLs are “better” for me. HA!

  3. CFL’s emit harmful levels of electromagnetic radiation? Oh no. I was looking for a light bulb that didn’t emit any EM radiation. Too bad that would leave me in complete darkness. Yes, light is EM radiation. And I’m pretty sure that CFL’s emit less EM outside of the visible spectrum than incandescents (that’s what makes them more efficient!). So your UV and Radio frequency argument doesn’t make much sense.

  4. There are so many reasons that CFLs are harmful that this is the tip of the iceberg and radiation is the least of the problems. The bottom line is once these little bombs are in every socket and then disposed of in landfills they’re going to cover the earth in Mercury, polluting our groundwater. That’s not my theory, it’s on the EPA’s website. Most people especially on islands (or in Miami) don’t recycle at all. But sme people would rather just buy them believing they’re ‘doing good’ then look into what the consequences are.

  5. All about CFLs, Health, Mercury (and a note on LED lead and arsenic),
    with official references onwards

    CFL Safety
    Home Safety — Radiation — Health

    The CFL Mercury Issue
    Breakage — Recycling — Dumping — Mining — Manufacturing — Transport — Power Plants

    LEDs: The Lead and Arsenic Issue
    Lead, arsenic and other toxic content, home breakage and disposal concerns

    The repeated notion of “Coal power mercury emissions being worse”
    does not hold up for several reasons,
    ( )
    including the mercury emission reduction mandates in for example the USA under new EPA admin Lisa Jackson, which newer cheaper technology allows for

  6. Get Power EM and Light EM cleared up before blogging! Try this: 40 winds of wire around the base of a CFL put a christmas light on end. Turn on the CFL and the Christmas light (no physical connection) lights up! And when CFL first turned on the christmas light turns on bright in a burst. Where’s the shielding?? CFLs are bad, bad, bad. STOP THE INCANDESCENT BAN. Work on real solutions. I ban all fluorescents from my home, period. Australia has become more and more CFLd to death. You can’t go to any hotel/motel now without all those twirly ugly things with no covers blarring at you. I always feel like smashing every friggen one of them ’cause I hate them. Now you can’t go for a relaxing coffee with nice lighting. It’s all much more bright and ugly. It’s a real disaster in my opinion!

    • Ron, same in Europe 😉
      fluorescent – like neon
      would be nice have the old alternatives sometimes
      (“energy saving light” sounds better of course)
      hope claudia keeps up the good effort in the USA

  7. Exactly. I am arty and into electronics. I have many strings of lights (I keep my place dim because that is what I like. I have strings of normal incandescents for the ‘white’ light. I have strings of LED (red, green, blue, yellow) for savings of colored light. BUT I have put BLACK ELECTRICAL TAPE around the ‘so-called-but-ugly-white’ LEDs on that same string! What is being confused is: We do want to save energy – see I used LED but I also want to save my sanity – no ‘fake-white’ LED or CFL or fluorescents! If CFL were nice light – I’d use them too! So the gov’t FORCES us to use light that we hate and it lights up all the contents of the room incorrectly! That’s my bit for now. Cheers, Ron Lentjes.

  8. Also, lately for my new art stuff, I bought many electronic LED parts. I got 1000s of colored ones because I like colored LEDs. I bought just a few WHITE ones. I put power to them. Nop. Shine at surface – they look – odd. I shine normal incandescent bulb to same surface. Ah. The LED is fake white. It is BLUE-ISH-CRAP. I tried to use a RED FILTER. It does NOT work, you get a blue tinge and weird colorings. Try this yourself. Then try a red filter with incandescent bulb. Ahh. Nice (Nice with or without filter). INCANDESCENT WINS AGAIN! Incandescent has INFINITE number of frequencies under its curve so FILTERING always WORKS. White LED is most often a BLUE LED with PHOSPHORS (similar idea of phosphors used in CFL/Fluorescent). It only has a few bands of color components – something like BLUE + R, G, B approx. A few for LED vs billions for INCANDESCENT. Bottom Line: ‘so-called-ugly-crappy-white’ LED SUCKS big time. Cheers, Ron Lentjes.

    • This is a good point…
      White LEDs are being pushed
      because the initial LEDs
      (multimodal to give white light)
      can’t be made as cheap-bright, or omnidirectional, like regular bulbs
      or even CFLs:
      As you say, white LEDs are in practice the same as CFLs,
      the phosphorescent coating on them is what gives the light

      RGB Leds are good light quality but very expensive especially for 60W equivalence, can’t be made very bright at least commercially,
      and are directional
      (and any capping etc to spread the light weakens the output even more)

      Dimming lights
      Incidentally a small additional point is that dimming incandescents makes them “warmer”, towards red, which is the ambient effect usualy desired
      – unlike the effect with other lighting, with CFLs rather having an eerie quality when dimmed.

      But let’s ban incandescents anyway… 😦

  9. A note about the ‘white’ of INCANDESCENTS. Did you know that if you lower the voltage (by dimming for example), the color becomes more red. If you know anything about the psychology of human people. The more red you go the more calming the effect. Did you know that if you increase the voltage, the color becomes more white. Personally I like the yellowish-white (or anywhere more red depending on what I want). Did you know that halogens push the voltage up to make the filament hotter and whiter. Some people (including me) don’t actually like too white a filament and without covers, it can certainly annoy your eyes should you accidentally look at the source of the light. This is the case with the new large halogens in stores here. It is so annoying that I cannot even go into some shops as it is too bright! The idea of halogens is to burn the filament hotter as this is more efficient (oh no, not that dreadful word again). A hotter filament lasts for much shorter time. So they add a halogen to recycle the burned off tungsten. But the envelope must be near so they use a small ‘glass’ but since it is so close to the filament, the heat breaks normal glass so they have to use quartz. Now quartz lets UV thru (and the hotter the filament, the more UV). Now for the halogen bulbs they also add the normal outer glass which does not let the UV as much thru – but some does get thru. All that work for 30% more efficiency! More costly to make, small sharp whiter hotter filament with overall more UV than standard incandescent! How bright (aka stupid) an idea is that? Personally I don’t like what they look like and they cast strange shadows on the wall due to the internal glass with glass and metal clip and so on. And you can see the hot filament even thru the lamp shade. Again, the Standard INCANDESCENT wins again. It has style (30% efficient has no style – just take a look at it), it does not case strange shadows, the filament is longer and loops around so it is less concentrated and runs cooler and you cannot see the filament thru the lamp shade! Sorry guys but the Standard INCANDESCENT wins again! (unless you have no style and just want a totally efficient ugly world!) Cheers, Ron Lentjes.

    • good points..
      might quote that elsewhere when the “Halogens are the same” topic comes up!

      • …besides, the halogens, like all other known incandescents, are banned before 2020 (USA) 2016 (EU)
        by the defined standards =

        The standards were drawn up with the profit-seeking major manufacturers,
        so the pushed notion that some
        “future type of allowed incandescent” might be made is unlikely anyway – even if it were possible.

  10. Oh, I found this on an official USA site (I’ll give you link at end of a couple of these excepts:

    Cleaning Up Spills

    What Never to Do After a Mercury Spill

    * Never use a vacuum cleaner to clean up mercury. The vacuum will
    put mercury into the air and increase exposure.

    * Never use a broom to clean up mercury. It will break the mercury
    into smaller droplets and spread them.

    * Never pour mercury down a drain. It may lodge in the plumbing and
    cause future problems during plumbing repairs. If discharged,
    it can cause pollution of the septic tank or sewage treatment plant.

    * Never wash clothing or other items that have come in direct
    contact with mercury in a washing machine, because mercury may
    contaminate the machine and/or pollute sewage. Clothing that
    has come into direct contact with mercury should be discarded.
    By “direct contact,” we mean that mercury was (or has been)
    spilled directly on the clothing, for example, if you break
    a mercury thermometer and some of elemental mercury beads came
    in contact with your clothing.

    * Never walk around if your shoes might be contaminated with mercury.
    Contaminated clothing can also spread mercury around.

    Cheers, Ron Lentjes.

    • Ron, enjoy this video
      – some humour on this serious matter:

  11. Here’s some more…

    Cleaning Up a Broken CFL

    Fluorescent light bulbs contain a small amount of mercury sealed within
    the glass tubing. When a fluorescent bulb breaks in your home,
    some of this mercury is released as mercury vapor. The broken
    bulb can continue to release mercury vapor until it is cleaned
    up and removed from the residence. To minimize exposure to
    mercury vapor, EPA recommends that residents follow the cleanup
    and disposal steps described below.

    This page presents only the most important steps to reduce exposure
    to mercury vapor from a broken bulb.

    1. Before cleanup

    * Have people and pets leave the room.

    * Air out the room for 5-10 minutes by opening a window
    or door to the outdoor environment.

    * Shut off the central forced air heating /
    air-conditioning system, if you have one.

    * Collect materials needed to clean up broken bulb.

    2. During cleanup

    * Be thorough in collecting broken glass and visible powder.

    * Place cleanup materials in a sealable container.

    3. After cleanup

    * Promptly place all bulb debris and cleanup materials outdoors
    in a trash container or protected area until materials
    can be disposed of properly. Avoid leaving any bulb
    fragments or cleanup materials indoors.

    * If practical, continue to air out the room where the bulb
    was broken and leave the heating/air conditioning system
    shut off for several hours.

    Ron Lentjes.

  12. And more…

    More details:

    NOTE: these instructions also apply to spills from other sources, if the amount spilled is less than or similar to the amount in a thermometer (see specific information about how to clean up broken fluorescent bulbs)

    EG: The REALLY BIG CFLs (some have way way more than 5mg!) I’ve seen a few in reject stores but I think these are meant for industrial use mainly?

    And EG: Fluorescent tubes!: “Depending on the type of fluorescent lamp, they can contain a wide range of mercury, from greater than 0 up to 100 milligrams (mg).”:

    * Have everyone else leave the area; don’t let anyone walk through the
    mercury on their way out. Make sure all pets are removed from the area.
    Open all windows and doors to the outside;
    shut all doors to other parts of the house.

    * DO NOT allow children to help you clean up the spill.

    * Mercury can be cleaned up easily from the following surfaces: wood,
    linoleum, tile and any similarly smooth surfaces.

    * If a spill occurs on carpet, curtains, upholstery or other absorbent surfaces,
    these contaminated items should be thrown away in accordance with
    the disposal means outlined below. Only cut and remove the affected
    portion of the contaminated carpet for disposal.

    Items needed to clean up a small mercury spill

    1. 4-5 ziplock-type bags
    2. trash bags (2 to 6 mils thick)
    3. rubber, nitrile or latex gloves
    4. paper towels
    5. cardboard or squeegee
    6. eyedropper
    7. duct tape, or shaving cream and small paint brush
    8. flashlight
    9. powdered sulfur (optional)

    Cleanup Instructions

    1. Put on rubber, nitrile or latex gloves.

    2. If there are any broken pieces of glass or sharp objects,
    pick them up with care. Place all broken objects on a paper towel.
    Fold the paper towel and place in a zip lock bag. Secure the bag
    and label it as directed by your local health or fire department.

    3. Locate visible mercury beads. Use a squeegee or cardboard to gather
    mercury beads. Use slow sweeping motions to keep mercury from
    becoming uncontrollable. Take a flashlight, hold it at a low
    angle close to the floor in a darkened room and look for
    additional glistening beads of mercury that may be sticking
    to the surface or in small cracked areas of the surface. Note:
    Mercury can move surprising distances on hard-flat surfaces,
    so be sure to inspect the entire room when “searching.”

    4. Use the eyedropper to collect or draw up the mercury beads. Slowly
    and carefully squeeze mercury onto a damp paper towel. Place the
    paper towel in a zip lock bag and secure. Make sure to label the
    bag as directed by your local health or fire department.

    5. After you remove larger beads, put shaving cream on top of small
    paint brush and gently “dot” the affected area to pick up smaller
    hard-to-see beads. Alternatively, use duct tape to collect smaller
    hard-to-see beads. Place the paint brush or duct tape in a zip lock
    bag and secure. Make sure to label the bag as directed by your local
    health or fire department.

    6. OPTIONAL STEP: It is OPTIONAL to use commercially available powdered
    sulfur to absorb the beads that are too small to see. The sulfur does
    two things: (1) it makes the mercury easier to see since there may be
    a color change from yellow to brown and (2) it binds the mercury so
    that it can be easily removed and suppresses the vapor of any missing
    mercury. Where to get commercialized sulfur? It may be supplied as
    mercury vapor absorbent in mercury spill kits, which can be purchased
    from laboratory, chemical supply and hazardous materials response
    supply manufacturers. Note: Powdered sulfur may stain fabrics a dark
    color. When using powdered sulfur, do not breathe in the powder as
    it can be moderately toxic. Additionally, users should read and
    understand product information before use.

    7. If you choose not to use this option, you may want to request the services
    of a contractor who has monitoring equipment to screen for mercury vapors.
    Consult your local environmental or health agency to inquire about
    contractors in your area. Place all materials used with the cleanup,
    including gloves, in a trash bag. Place all mercury beads and objects
    into the trash bag. Secure trash bag and label it as directed by your
    local health or fire department.

    8. Contact your local health department, municipal waste authority or your
    local fire department for proper disposal in accordance with local,
    state and federal laws.

    9. Remember to keep the area well ventilated to the outside (i.e., windows
    open and fans in exterior windows running) for at least 24 hours after
    your successful cleanup. Continue to keep pets and children out of
    cleanup area. If sickness occurs, seek medical attention immediately.
    View information on health effects related to exposures to vapors
    from metallic mercury. For additional information on health effects,
    the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) provides
    a Mercury Fact Sheet Exit EPA Disclaimer that also presents information
    on health effects related to exposures to vapors from metallic mercury.

    Recommendation: If there are young children or pregnant women in the house,
    seek additional advice from your local or state health or
    state environmental agency.

    Don’t trust your gov’t! Have you learned that yet?

    Here are the supporting links as I promised (I also will find the more damming ones in a bit – about how little mercury vapour it takes to make a room seriously neurotoxically dangerous – that’s why they say LEAVE THE ROOM FIRST):

    United States Environmental Protection Agency
    Mercury Releases and Spills

    United States Environmental Protection Agency
    Cleaning Up a Broken CFL

    IMERC Fact Sheet – Mercury Use in Lighting

    So on and on, just do a www search – these are OFFICIAL LINKS!

    Don’t forget Canada’s rule: No closer than 30cm for 3hrs (I’ve also heard no closer than 30cm for 1hrs for larger ones). Yes it is doco’d.

    And this is just the tip of the iceberg. Go hunt www for official info.

    I’m sorry, but I’m hugging my STAR WINNING INCANDESCENT BULB and reading really close to it as people have for 100 years or so with no issue!

    Man, want a bulb? Shhh. $150.00. Oh shit the KGB. Duck and cover!

    Ron Lentjes.

  13. Did you know…

    If you run an INCANDESCENT bulb with more voltage it will be brighter and not last very long at all?

    Did you know…

    If you dim an INCANDESCENT even small bit, it will be a bit dimmer but last much longer? Shhh. They don’t want you to know that! Shhh. Loss of profit!

    Seriously, I have just checked a second ago. I have 2 INCANDESCENT light bulbs dimmed down for background effect. They have been on for 4 years or more and never been replaced! And it will go on and on and on for many many years! Shhh. They don’t want me to say this. Shhh. Loss of profit!

    I also have a modified string of christmas tree lights. They are the 12V types (rare – but they have longer filaments and when lit lower they are stunning). I modified this to a circuit of 70V (per 12V light) instead of 24V (per 2.4V light). That means I am giving them about 7V instead of 12V. They will last a very very very long time. Which is good because I can’t find them anymore!

    Here is a trick. Find any kind of INCANDESCENT lights (I think UNDERGROUND R US has a special on today). Now if you can find some 12V ones, get at least 3. Magic number is 3 here. Find a 24V transformer (DC or AC does not matter). Now connect 3 12-V lights in series and this to the 24V transformer. What happens is that each gets 24V/3 = 8V instead of 12V. They are dimmer and cool and will last for ever!

    I’ll repeat the formula for you:

    Find 3 12-V lights, connect to 12-V times 2 = 24-V power adapter.
    – or –
    Find 3 6-V lights, connect to 6-V times 2 = 12-V power adapter.
    – or –
    Find 3 3-V lights, connect to 3-V times 2 = 6-V power adapter.

    Remember, INCANDESCENTS are getting harder and harder to get, so be sure to run them BELOW rated voltage as above examples. If you find a different voltage than 12 or 6 or 3, then general formula is:

    Find 3 X-V lights, connect to X-V times 2 = 2X-V power adapter.

    (or adjust as you like, of course but always below rated voltage)

    Have fun. Watch out for KGB!

    And how about that one in the museum for about 100 or so years. Still burning (quite dim mind you), but proves the point.

    So it’s up to you. Add a dimmer with any incandescent light and it will last MUCH LONGER. And besides, dimming makes for very calm room lighting!

    Tell your gov’t to kindly PISS OFF. You can’t dim C.F.L. (its an accronym for C.. F.. L.. but I can’t swear on this site so you have to use your imagination. Don’t worry, the gov’t has no imagination or wit… they won’t get it. They can barely run a country, let alone a light bulb.

    Ron Lentjes.

    • good tip
      …and a further advantage to dimming 😉 (see above)

  14. Did you know…

    As I said before, yellowish-white and down to redish-red (dimmed) light especially that produced by a hot surface (incandescence) such as that from fire-place light, candle light, kerosene lamp, and INCANDESCENT BULB produces a calming effect on people.

    Did you know…

    A blueish-whitish light (such as that from an ‘I-am-not-really-white’ LED or CFL) produces an un-calm, alert, aggressive effect on people.

    Now think about nature:

    At high noon roughly about-ish, the light from the INCANDESCENT sun is quite white (and also blue filter of the sky). So it is a very active (more aggressive) time of day. Good for making you do things. It keeps you alert and spiked.

    Fortunately, at later in day, it starts to go yellowish-white. Less aggressive and starting to let you relax just a bit. Then evening it starts to become yellow and then yellow-red, then reddish. This is really calm time. And then the lights out and you can go to sleep. There is more to this like the ‘blue’ effect and sleep-cycles and the wake and reset-cycles and all that gnarly stuff but the point I am try to convey follows.

    Did you know…

    Before the STUPID BAN OF INCANDESCENTS, we almost had it right! We work in offices or factories of aggressive fluorescent light but return to homes later in the day of calm INCANDESCENT lighting and then watch a late TV movies with dimmed (redder) lighting. That followed the natural lighting of the sun/atmosphere filter effect! We had it right.

    Did you know…

    BUT now due to THIS STUPID BAN OF INCANDESCENTS, we have it wrong! Now after a day of harsh fluorescent / CFL lighting at work/factory, we come home to much the same. We continue to be aggressed by the CFLs in the home and since they cannot be dimmed, we are on ‘COFFEE’/wired/stimulated/aggressed all evening. Never a chance to calm down under INCANDESCENT lighting! We have it all screwed up. Thank your ever so bright (aka dim) gov’t for this screw up!

    PLEASE UNDERSTAND THAT SUN IS INCANDESCENT. IT HAS BILLIONS OF COLORS IN IT (and filter effects of atmosphere) AND IS FAR SUPERIOR TO THE 3-to-5ish color spike bands of CFL/Fluorescent/’white-not-really’ LED!

    (I also watched a program just yesterday which confirms the above point I have been making for many years now. It completely confirms that which I innately know about (and many other human beans who have the slightest ability to reading the natural environment)).

    Don’t confuse color naming: Association of blue color to calm is not how we feel – it is how we think. We do feel aggressed under blue light.

    Don’t confuse color naming. Association of red color to danger is not how we feel – it is how we think. We do feel calm under reddish light.

    How we feel is innate to us. World wide. (The program I mentioned also proves this point with tests on subjects – but you can test it yourself also)

    Fluorescent / CFL light = aggressive, cold (even the so-called ‘warm’ ones)

    INCANDESCENT light = calm, warm

    N.B. It is not just the color. It is also the make up of the spectrum.
    Fluorescent / CFL light = few components of spikes of colors (3 to 5 ish)
    INCANDESCENT light = continuous curve of billions of colors (infinite)

    N.B. It is not just that either. INCANDESCENT goes way low in the IR spectrum (thus not so efficient but dammed comfortable).

    Ron Lentjes

    • Ron, you should put these thoughts on a website or blog if you haven’t already
      Interesting aspects not covered in the usual debate…
      re psychology of light,
      they found that hospital workers in Germany couldn’t sleep on their shift breaks etc due blue spectrum in the replaced lighting (or something like that)… forget the link
      more on light effect

  15. Hi, after now many years of research I have to say that the propaganda machine sure does work on humans. Great marketing campaign! Make you feel bad for not “saving the planet” and “oh my god you use Incandescents or halogens – those waste energy – you bad”. And push you to use terrible lighting choices (grouped in the BLUE and UV category): CFL, Fluorescent, white-LED. Please understand monochromatic Red, Green, Blue LED are completely different beasts and for display purposes they are AWESOME! But the white-LED are HIDEOUS! Cheers, Ron Lentjes. Read my next summary.

  16. A course on the Art of Lighting – Human Factors

    Now that Australia has been rudely transformed into a scientifically sound Watts and Lumens place of Friday the 13th Lighting Expedition due to the PROFIT motives of PHILIPS ELECTRONICS NV NEDERLANDS, we need proper assessment of lighting needs. Namely the art of lighting, the human factors of lighting, and the FIGHT for APPROPRIATE lighting practices other than those of the CARTEL members of the PHILIPS GIANT.

    Q. Who started the BAN OF INCANDESCENTS?


    Q. What was the motive behind the ban?

    A. PHILIPS was pushing the SALE of it’s baby the CFL but was up against the constant client preference to INCANDESCENT lighting. Americans in a 2003 study kept going back to INCANDESCENT. Only 2.5% take up.

    Q. Why is Australia hushing up those apposed to the BAN?

    A. Unlike Canada and USA where this is not allowed, Australia have very bad policy of white-washing the just opinions of its citizens. This is due to the CRAFTY bribes of PHILIPS and members of persuasion (to put it mildly). Woolworths is part and parcel of this collusion.

    Q. Why such a push?

    A. Huge profits. The INCANDESCENT can only sell for $0.50 to $1.00. A poor profit item. CFL and LED can pull in approx $6 and $20 accordingly.

    Q. What is incandescence?

    A. It is light produced by the ‘black-body’ heating of an object.

    Q. Why is this preferred?

    A. Incandescence produces an INFINITE range of FREQUENCIES of smooth composition of light. This kind of light can take all the reflections and refractions and filtering after bouncing off all the objects in a room lit by this quality of light. It is also a favorable yellow-white warm light of INFINITE FREQUENCIES that maintains its quality under all the transformations of dimming and reflections and refractions and filtering that normally occurs in the process of ambient lighting conditions.

    Q. What is the common problem with CFL, Fluorescent, and white-LED?

    A. They all produce their light using a selection of approximately 5 different pigments excited by UV or BLUE LED light. The spectrum is like that of a dead forest of spiky trees with little fill in. Very poor rendition. Very sensitive to manufacturing and to other conditions. Resultant lighting becomes very distorted after only a few (if only one) reflection, refraction or filtering. Many view the light as ‘strange’ or ‘eerie’. Low quality. Most often rendered as COLD white light. Some ‘WARM’ pigment versions are still very strange and vary between BLUE-PURPLE-GREEN-VIOLET off white. Unstable rendition.

    Q. Has anyone taken into consideration the human factors of lighting?

    A. Not PHILIPS. Not those with VESTED INTERESTS in PROFITS. There is HUGE margin for profits. Human factors are an annoyance to PHILIPS and they rather use the MEDIA to propagate FALSE MISINFORMATION about the entire issue. False mentions that people will get used to this kind of light (absolutely not possible) and false uptake numbers.

    Q. Why the hush campaign?

    A. Many people DO NOT LIKE the new forms of lighting. It is a natural response. You don’t paint walls pure white. You don’t paint them blue-white. You paint off-white with warm colors for warm effect. No different than the choice of INCANDESCENT lighting. This includes the use of fire-place lighting, candle lighting, kerosene lighting and incandescent lighting.

    Q. Is it worth abandoning warm, calm, inviting INCANDESCENT lighting just for the sake of more energy efficient options of poorer forms of lighting such as CFL, Fluorescent and white-LED?

    A. If quality of light, quality of life, quality of health, quality of tourism, quality of relaxation are of concern, then the answer is simply no. Everything is to be taken in balance. The most efficient lighting is the most annoying kind of lighting. It is BLUE light and devoid of BODY (the billions of frequencies of INCANDESCENT lighting).

    Q. Why is it important to choose quality lighting?

    A. You spend all you life under lighting. Choose INCANDESCENCE (fire-place, candle, kerosene, INCANDESCENT) lighting and you will never suffer from the ills of bad lighting. You don’t have to limit your exposure, you don’t get headaches, you don’t have biological stresses from this kind of lighting. It is safe. You’re body knows it is safe. But choose poor lighting (CFL, Fluorescent, white-LED) and you suffer from any number of issue including BLUE light, UV, Flicker (even new CFL: one at 40,000 Hz and one at 39,990 results in 10Hz of annoying sickly feel), biological stress from the light and the EMF from unshielded clipping power supplies in the near radio frequency 40,000 Hz range, the strange incorrect reflections, refractions, filtering of 5 frequency spikes resulting in eerie and strange lighting effects. And the UVA, B, C, D, E so on that is NOT filtered from atmosphere, ionosphere, ozone layers that normally shield us the the Sun’s generation of these UV spectrum (the CFL/FLU is direct to you).

    Q. What does Canada say about CFL?

    A. Not to be exposed closer than 30cm for no longer than 3 hours per day (or 1 hour for larger units).

    Q. What does Australia say about CFL?

    A. (Hushed up).

    Q. What does USA say about breaking CFL?

    A. Proper guide to all clean up steps to be taken. Step one is to leave the area immediately, FIRST. Then follow all remaining steps (including NOT to vacuum or sweep with a broom).

    Q. What does Australia say about breaking CLF?

    A. (Hushed up).

    Q. Why is Australia not backing down?

    A. PROFIT.

    Q. What does artists and photographers think about this fiasco?

    A. Many simply change to in-house studio with their heavily guarded collection of INCANDESCENT bulbs. Some are upset they cannot take night photography anymore in Australia outdoors. Many artists have a similar issue with LED. Colored monochromatic lights for display (not ambient room lighting) is great, fantastic. When lighting white off-white and moody, use INCANDESCENT only. When general room lighting: Only INCANDESCENT for art. Fluorescent ok when using machinery to cut things but otherwise not. But white-LED is NOT TO BE USED FOR ANY PURPOSE what-so-ever. The only exception is non-art. Friday the 13th movies with eerie scenes: COLD CLF, COLD Fluorescent and EERIE white-LED is perfect for those ‘DEAD’ scenes.

    Q. What do interior decorators feel about CFL and white-LED?

    A. They are very angry. I know one in particular who now has a site about how they cannot properly design because an important tool has been taken away from them: THE INCANDESCENT LIGHT BULB.

    Q. Why does Australia gov’t not care?

    A. PROFIT.

    Q. Where are OHSA complaints about lighting directed?

    A. 1st attempt. Sorry, their is no department to handle such a complaint. 2nd attempt. You have to contact Australia Lighting (aka PHILIPS).

    Q. Why have they eliminated all avenues to oversee lighting in Australia?

    A. PHILIPS controls the lighting in Australia.

    Q. Why are there very few courses for human factors of lighting?

    A. PHILIPS educates kids in schools. They want total control of lighting and the resulting sales and PROFITS.

    Q. You’ve got to be kidding.

    A. Do your own research.

    Cheers, Ron Lentjes.

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