Posted by: The Paris Apartment | January 31, 2010

Consumers Will Have the Last Word

I’m glad and grateful you’re here. Thanks for taking the time  to look into the dangers behind Compact Fluorescent Light bulbs, from their creation to disposal. CFLs create a destructive trickle down effect, affecting everything from American jobs, to Mercury, coal mining, mountaintop removal and water contamination.

Before Bush left office, he signed a bill that passed GE’s lobby to replace millions of our current bulbs with toxic CFLs. (Toxic because they become ‘Hazardous Waste’ once they they burn out and have very specific disposal treatment guidelines to follow. Disposed of improperly, they will contaminate the water supply).

This is the last thing I want to be going off about but I found out too much  not to shout about it.

Because they have Mercury, if disposed of ‘improperly’, these bulbs will contaminate our water supply according to the EPA. I’ll let them explain.

This is from the EPA website under: Why is it important to recycle CFLs or other fluorescent light bulbs?

CFLs or other fluorescent light bulbs thrown into the trash are usually sent to a landfill or incinerated. These disposal methods will lead to releases of elemental mercury into the environment through breakage and leakage.  There is also the potential for exposure to mercury from broken fluorescent light bulbs thrown in a dumpster, trash compactor, or trash can.  Approximately 670 million fluorescent light bulbs are discarded each year in the United States. These discarded bulbs can release approximately 2 to 4 tons of mercury per year into the environment. Once in the environment, mercury can be converted to an organic form that accumulates in living organisms and contaminates the food chain. To prevent the release of mercury, the fluorescent light bulbs should be taken to a recycler before they break. Recyclers can recover the mercury and other components for reuse.

If you or your neighbors don’t have a toxic waste dump nearby, the bulbs will most likely go the way of the rest of the world’s garbage from Chile to Chicago.  What’s the percentage of recycling done around the world right now? Or let’s say, America, even? Somewhere around 10%? Will we have time to educate the world and open all the newly needed (ungreen)  toxic waste dumps in time? What about those already out here?  The scary thing is that GE’s packages don’t have ANY disposal warning on them. Really!  Take a look next time you’re at Target or the super market.  And Walmart is selling hundreds of millions of them. Where are they going to go?

Contaminating the world’s water supply because of these is too intense to contemplate.  CFLs  have been so thoroughly ingrained into our collective consciousness as something  good if not great.  How did they do that?

Thanks for thinking about it. As consumers we have the power to decide where our money goes, and purchasing these supports GE’s attempt to capitalize on something every single room in the world needs. A simple light bulb.  But instead of acting responsibly, GE has created a product not built to last but with the usual ‘planned obsolescence’,  leaving a trail of disaster behind. Or ahead. It’s our call!

Posted by: The Paris Apartment | January 22, 2010

GE Closes US Factories after Receiving Enormous Stimulus

It’s not just because they’re hideous that I can’t stand the CFL bulbs. It’s because they’re a joke. But not funny. We have  technology to create regular light bulbs that last a lifetime and have antique bulbs from the 1900’s still working to prove it. Over the years they’ve been modified to burn out quick via ‘planned obsolescence’.

Why did GE receive billions in stimulus to just close factories here and move them all to China? We have to buy EVERY bulb from China now. What an enormous footprint.×6134555,+2009

Posted by: The Paris Apartment | January 21, 2010

Cropped right, anything can look good

It’s been a while since I’ve been able to post about CFLs because the thought of them makes me ill.  A couple months ago I didn’t know much (ok,was completely ignorant) about so many things from Mountain Top Removal, Carbon Sequestration,  GE, World Bank, Superfund sites, White House Advisors, Jobs, Coal, CEOs  the EPA and CFLs.  Once Pandora’s box was opened, I glimpsed a world beyond scary.  But some time’s passed and I’m less emotional and not letting the dark side ruin my days. I’ll be stocking up on regular light bulbs, let’s just say that.

I didn’t want to go off on this CFL trip but everything I’ve found out about them pushed my buttons to the point that I was compelled to write this blog. Still, I have to pick my battles (as much as I’d like to take on GE), so here goes: Even if these were the most energy saving, life affirming, gorgeous replacements for the ordinary incandescent bulb, there’s no way to spin them into an ethical alternative once we know how they’re made and have to be disposed of.

As far as production, the environmental tragedy ripple is staggering but to keep it simple, consider the additional Mercury mining needed to produce hundreds of millions of them, not to mention oil for the plastic packaging, or the fact that every single one is made overseas and our own award winning US light bulb factories were shut down to accommodate that shift.

Only we, as consumers and citizens, will decide to boycott or comply with the mandate banning regular old bulbs. Below is the EPA’s recommendation for cleaning up broken CFLs and disposing of the hazardous waste pieces that were once your bulb.

If double plastic bags, a trip to the toxic waste dump, and throwing away your contaminated bedding and carpets is green, I must be missing something. Yet on the packages,  there’s NO warning or disposal instructions on any of GE’s bulbs, yet they’re in every country, on a mission to trash regular bulbs (creating more garbage) and replace them all with these by law very soon. Why are there are no warnings when the EPA says they cause water and ground contamination if  disposed of impoperly? How are 3rd world countries going to be educated on this when we don’teven know about it?

Cleanup and Recycling of CFLs

CFLs are considered household hazardous waste. By law, they must be either be recycled or taken to an approved hazardous waste disposal site.

If a CFL breaks, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency website recommends special steps to follow for cleanup. These steps include airing out the room, putting all debris and cleaning materials into a sealed jar or double plastic bag, and avoiding the use of brooms or vacuum cleaners that might stir mercury into the air.

In addition, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection website recommends disposing of the carpet, rug or bedspread on which a CFL breaks. It also suggests that CFLs might not be appropriate in rooms used by infants, small children or pregnant women, who are more susceptible to mercury poisoning.

Many hardware stores and local disposal sites accept CFLs for recycling, and some companies now sell pre-paid shipping boxes addressed to recycling plants. Unfortunately, not everyone has easy access to these options, so about three out of four CFLs end up in landfills, where the mercury gets leached into the soil and groundwater.

We cannot pollute any more water with Mercury.
One last thing : Below is Thomas Edison’s simple bulb sketch, a brilliant, beautiful and simple invention that’s now become a villain thanks to the CFL lobbyists (GE lobbied for years to make this happen and GWB signed the ok just before he left office. Now GE CEO Jeff Immelt is our White House Energy advisor and is still pushing his agenda, which is all over the place.
They were warm AND gave off light. And you could throw it away without fear of contaminating your community water supply when it broke.
fluorescent bulbs on the other hand are extremely complicated and don’t offer anything but a cold, neon cast.
Each year, 600 million light bulbs are disposed of into landfills in the United States. This accounts for nearly 30,000 pounds of mercury waste. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency lists light bulbs as the third most dangerous product used in homes.
Below is a ‘Broken CFL Cleanup Kit’.  Buying all these products in order to clean up the bulbs that were supposed to save us money is pure irony.

CFL Cleanup Kit via

But  that the EPA endorses it  for $19.95 is just plain insulting! Add that to the cost of the bulbs and how much have you saved exactly?

and i thought we were banning plastic bags!
This woman broke one and had to open the windows for 15 minutes during the dead of winter. She was a good sport about it, but many arguments against incandescents is that they give off light AND heat. Is there something twisted there besides the coils of these hideous beasts?
My biggest question in all of this is:  How did this get into our collective consciousness that this was a good thing, and what are we going to do about it? If you believe in the bulb, the regular bulb, please spread the word and don’t let it die for no good reason!
Posted by: The Paris Apartment | November 5, 2009

What would John Denver do?

Please Save Coal River Mountain

Contact the White House:

What will it take to stop the madness being perpetrated on the mountains of Appalachia by the blasting of brand new coal mines?

Do we need a Million March to the Mountain or to the White House?

We’re about to lose our delicate ecosystem and stewardship of it. Al Gore said on Letterman that Earth could become a very hostile environment. I like it just as it is and know you do too.

These towns in West Virginia coal country, do not want the EPA creating new mines and in turn, polluting waters whose run down and affect all of us.

What they want is a wind farm which will support their entire town forever.

Why can’t the citizens be allowed to manage their land and create green jobs for themselves? Who is stopping America from going green?

Let them build their windmills and move the EPA and Massey Energy out ! (they stopped for a minute 2 weeks ago, as The EPA told the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that it was taking the unusual step because of the magnitude of potential environmental damage, including the burial of more than seven miles of streams. But they’re back at it now.

Since GE has more demand than they can even fill for windmills, why not put Americans to work to build them? Teach US to build them here, not send the jobs to China.

The kids seem to know what happens if this goes on here and in Australia, what about us as the adults? Why don’t the politicians stop the madness? Should we keep waiting for them to? Look at New Orleans.


If you think the million man march to the mountains would work, I’ll be there!


Please contact someone you think will care and help these people and ourselves, before dams holding toxic sludge break again, more damage is done and our water supply is compromised.,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

Posted by: The Paris Apartment | November 3, 2009

Shouting from the Mountaintops!


President Obama said he’d put an end to the mountaintop rapes and pillages!

The EPA announced on September 11th THIS year that they had permits to start blasting the mountaintops of the Appalachaian Mountains, and are making good on that promise.

Only President Obama can stop this. Our Dear President, we need you, where are you? Please don’t fail us on this!



Obama family

Blasting has begun on Coal River Mountain, destroying both a vital ecosystem and the community’s hopes for a clean energy future. Moreover, this blasting is putting in imminent danger the lives of those who live below the nearby Brushy Fork coal slurry impoundment, billions of gallons of toxic sludge that sit above the Marsh Fork Elementary School and several communities. If blasting weakens or cracks the dam, hundreds could be killed.

The governor of West Virginia and his officials are refusing to take action, so we’re taking it to the federal level. Please call President Obama right now at 202-456-1414 and ask him to intervene on behalf of the people of the Coal River Valley. Now is his chance to prove that he’s serious about his green energy promises. Supporters have been tying up their phone lines on this issue; we can’t let up on the pressure until President Obama takes action!

Next, get the word out. Write a letter to the editor, post this action alert and this YouTube video on your blog, Facebook and Twitter, tell your friends and family…the coal industry thinks they can get away with this because no one is paying attention. And they’re upping their astroturfing presence online and in newspapers to convince the public that they’re doing great things for Appalachia.

For more information on Coal River Mountain, please visit:

Posted by: The Paris Apartment | October 25, 2009



Posted by: The Paris Apartment | October 24, 2009

A grain of sand is nothing, unless it’s in your eye


Since I started researching the Compact Fluorescent Light Culb (CFL), so many issues have come up that it’s beyond mind boggling. Everything from their production to disposal is an issue that’s complicated and heated.

One of the most interesting debates is on the Mercury content that’s present in each bulb. Some people say it’s an insignificant amount and not a big deal. But it’s not the drop that’s in the bulb that’s so frightening (unless you’re standing over it and breathe in the vapors when it breaks), but the real question is how much more Mercury is now needed to produce the bulbs, creating a need for even more energy.

The bulbs are proving to require so much energy in their production and disposal that they don’t come close to competing with a traditional incandescent.

I started asking questions to come to this conclusion of course, getting more involved than I’d planned but ultimately opening my eyes to a world that’s potentially devastating to the fate of our waters and communities.

First of all, how is Mercury harvested, and why are CFLs considered by the EPA to be Toxic Waste if broken if the small amount of Mercury they contain is harmless?

If you don’t air out the room for 15 minutes first (if you happen to know that) you, or kids or pets can suffer neurological damage from the vapors.

We could all suffer when hundreds of millions start leaching Mercury into landfills and improper clean-up affects those who don’t know wash clothing with broken shards can contaminate clean water.

The packaging is supposed to list all this but on this initial push to get the public on board they have not been publicizing it.

Worldwide, production of Mercury has relaxed environmental laws. In the United States its affects are still visible resulting in contaminated areas, aka Super Fund Sites. GE is responsible for between 78-88 of them and has fought the EPA for years in court to avoid cleanup of Mercury and other toxic chemicals throughout the US.

Just when the US government, World Bank and GE, (the number one leaders in world pollution) are able to do something productive, their partners, the EPA, are proposing new mines. This released on September 11, ’09:

EPA Releases Preliminary Results for Surface Coal Mining Permit Reviews

WASHINGTON –The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced today that it has identified 79 proposed surface coal-mining projects in Appalachian states for further, detailed reviews of their pending permits.

Mercury Polluted lakes in Wisconson

Effects and complications of bulbs involving Migranes and General Sensitivity Studies


Indonesia coal mine


image via spktruth2power

To think that just a couple days ago, I was so blissfully unaware. All I wanted was to keep my incandescent light bulbs and not become a criminal for using them. I’ve always had a thing for their delicate intricacy. They’ve served us really well over the years and I rarely seem to replace one.


Because I didn’t want to be forced to use the new fluorescent bulbs, I wanted to see why GE is leading such a vehement revolution to vilify them and switch the world from regular bulbs to the Compact Fluorescent Bulbs.

What I found about the CFL promotion is as fascinating as it is frightening.

I’m normally not into politics or even mysteries but his one is coming at me at the speed of light so I’m compelled to post my findings and hear what you think.

The new fluorescent bulbs are a dangerous product in numerous ways: They’re expensive to produce and need even more coal-fueled methods to manufacture and package than regular bulbs, they contain Mercury, and we have to dispose of them as if they’re Hazardous Waste. But that’s just the beginning.

I’m a little embarrassed to say that a few days ago I didn’t know a thing about coal or mining or mountaintops or ‘clean coal’ or carbon capture and storage (CCS), aka, carbon sequestration, or how any of this was related to the light bulb I love so dearly.

What I found is that the coal that runs power plants is the largest source of pollution on the planet and generates 50% of electricity in the United States. As of now, NONE of the US coal facilities produce ‘clean coal’. Most experts (like from MIT and YALE) call the catchy phrase an oxymoron, like saying, ‘Healthy Cigarettes‘. It turns out that coal can never be clean because it means instead of sending CO2 out into the atmosphere, we bury it in the earth where it leaches toxins causing groundwater contamination. Some say to put it into the oceans instead but of course that’s still under debate. and even UNESCO sees it as an option that has more dangerous unanswered questions than answers, and Time Magazine agrees. (Carbon sequestration).

My question is, How did the Clean Coal movement get into our collective consciousness as a real and good thing? The answer? Propoganda. This video of supermodels in a coal mine was produced by GE to entice us into this glamorous world.

Never mind that the new CFL bulbs are exponentially higher to produce than regular bulbs and take a lot more coal to manufacture. Or that the EPA wants us to treat them as Hazardous Waste when disposing of them.

What’s worse is that China and India are about to open 88 new coal plants.

It seems like an uphill battle to fight these Monster Offenders when trying SO hard to go SO green with the new fluorescent light bulb program.

Who’s constructing the new factories in China and India?

It’s the world’s largest coal proponent and polluter on earth, The World Bank.

Just for kicks I Googled World Bank and GE. Guess what?

They’re partners.


So this is what I mean, it’s a story I could never have concocted. Almost like a movie or a conspiracy theory. Or reality.

GE isn’t far behind World Bank as one of the largest polluters on earth, in fact they’re ranked #5 of the top Corporate Air polluters and have a long legacy of leaving an ugly chemical trail they’ve yet to clean up. GE is the largest contributor to Superfund sites. (According to the EPA, Superfund sites are an uncontrolled or abandoned place where hazardous waste is located, possibly affecting local ecosystems or people).

Business insider lists GE as one of the biggest ‘Green Phonies of 2009’ touting General Electric as THE most toxic company when considering the amount of population exposed to its pollution and its toxicity level from its plants worldwide.

The really messed up part is that GE and World Bank position themselves as having green initiatives when renewable engery accounts for only tiny fraction of their portfolios.

US based NGO Bank Information Center (BIC) recently published World Bank energy sector lending: encouraging the world’s addiction to fossil fuels, a study on the World Bank’s approach to energy sector investments. The assessment finds that important gains in renewable energy and energy efficiency in recent years still do not compensate for the highly imbalanced financing in favour of fossil fuel development.

The BIC study shows that World Bank fossil fuel lending is on the rise, especially for coal. During its 2008 fiscal year, the World Bank and International Finance Corporation (IFC) increased funding for fossil fuels by 102 per cent compared with only 11 per cent for new renewable energy (solar, wind, biomass, geothermal and small hydropower).

Today coal is generating more than half the US electricity. Wind power accounts for less than 1%.

Here’s where GE could excel as a leader but instead of producing the turbines they have the technology and power to make, instead they say they’re on backorder even though they have billions of dollars of orders for them from all over the world. Now, the wind doesn’t blow when the energy demand is high, ie summertime), so there’s skepticism from critics who believe in coal. But we’ll leave that for another day.

One last thing: I don’t claim to be an expert on any of this, I honestly didn’t know they cut off the tops of mountains for coal until last night. When I read this though, I had to start wondering what’s really going on. This report was put out on September 11, this year. Maybe they didn’t think anyone would notice. This doesn’t seem very green.

EPA News Release

EPA Releases Preliminary Results for Surface Coal Mining Permit Reviews (09/11/2009)

WASHINGTON –The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced today that it has identified 79 proposed surface coal-mining projects in Appalachian states for further, detailed reviews of their pending permits.
and what’s going on with Australia? I thought they were supposed to be world leaders.

So while China is producing the bulbs, burying waste in the ground, using billions of gallons of water that could go to the world and causing untold damage to our future, please hold off on the bulbs.
Please don’t purchase another thing from GE until we know more about what this company is capable of. It’s beyond the aesthetics of bulbs but now at least Idon’t feel guilty!
Posted by: The Paris Apartment | October 13, 2009

Can’t believe the hype


I admit to being a bit of a tree hugger. We’re all trying to do our part to make the world greener and are at point where we’ll do anything if we think it will help. But what happens when a product comes along that we’re told will do the trick, but actually does more harm than good?


(photo from The New York Times)

In a veiled attempt to conserve energy, some dangerous plans have been set into motion that could cause damage to our air and water supplies in a very short time.

One of the last things George Bush did before he left office was to institute the change from incandescent light bulbs to fluorescents (also known as CFLs), a mandatory, forced switch out, by 2010.

The world’s biggest producer of the new bulbs and advocate for the change is General Electric, one of the largest polluters on the Political Economy Research Institute’s Toxic 100 index. The index is based on EPA Toxics Release Inventory data which ranks the nation’s largest companies based on the quantity of their emissions, relative toxicity of chemicals emitted.


Have you ever broken a lightbulb? Of course, we all have. Millions of us.

It was not a big deal with the the innocuous incandescent light bulb. There were no vapors, no dangers, no chance of real harm. Now we’re being told to replace all our light bulbs (throw them in a landfill)! with fluorescent spiral bulbs which are harmful in many different ways we’re only beginning to understand.


That said, I’m all for saving energy and look at ways to conserve all the time. But when I started researching these bulbs, I found that they’re not really green at all, in fact, just the opposite. This is is a case where the bulbs are being touted as safe, yet they’re being produced in a way that’s environmentally unsafe or for the workers who manufacture them and at the same time are extremely inefficient to produce and deliver.
Turns out it takes much more energy to create the new compact fluorescents in every way. The mercury required to make them in the first place and that spills when they break, can be threatening to our health. I read the packages and saw nothing about the dangers on GE’s boxes. No warning, no cautions and no disposal methods. This sign is supposed to be posted where the bulbs are sold.


Mercury vapor has been linked to neurological problems, kidney failure, tremors, insomnia, headaches and neuromuscular changes. These vapors are especially harmful to brains of fetuses and children and severe damage to the central nervous system and liver are possible if it’s absorbed through the skin or inhaled.

If the owner of a broken bulb doesn’t know there are precautions to take in the clean up, they could cause an epidemic and contaminate their family and community. If someone happens to wash bedding or clothing it breaks on, (instead of throwing all of it away, again, not too green), it will send contaminates directly into the community water system. What’s going to happen when these bulbs break in hundreds (or millions) of homes? Walmart’s already sold over 100 million of them.

The cleanup advice itself is not green at all, as it involves everything from plastic bags to duct tape, not to mention having to throw away anything it shattered on, the dustpan and brush, gloves and mask as well, all creating more garbage and waste. You can’t clean it up with a broom as it will spread the mercury through the house, endangering children and pets.


In some states you can put the broken bulb in your outdoor trash and leave someone else to deal with it at the landfill. Or you can dispose of them at your local toxic waste dump, ( if you’re lucky enough to have one of those in your area)! If it’s put with the recycling, mercury can contaminate those who sort it. Those that end up in landfills will, naturally, they’ll be crushed and release mercury into the soil. Ikea and Home Depot will take them for you if happen to have one nearby and want to make the effort. But we only recycle 1% of what’s renewable now, so what are the chances, especially in underdeveloped nations where changes are forced on citizens?

Just how green is any of this? It’s not. At all. GE and Phillips other big producers would like to see everyone smash their old light bulbs and proclaim freedom while they hold up the twisty alternative as a green gift from heaven. Meanwhile they misinform and enlighten us with their green website initiative which glosses over the dangers.


None of this is helping the environment and is creating more toxic waste, using more energy and putting the world’s water in danger. To add insult to injury, they’re not even made in the US! Worst of all, the entire crusade is being spearheaded by GE who closed factories in Virgina and Ohio among others, and moved production to China where workers are being compromised. In factories where CFLs are made, mercury spillage is common during the manufacturing process, and workers are often exposed to deadly chemicals. Massive clean-up bills are accumulating to decontaminate factories and surrounding areas where CFLs were made. With spillages happening regularly, the long term health of the workers are of course, at risk.

The inefficiency of these bulbs is probably the biggest farce. One of the selling points is that they don’t give off heat, yet, in the winter, we’re advised to change back to regular bulbs to save on heating bills as incandescents add warmth to a room and help regulate thermostats. CFLS don’t work in extreme cold, can’t be dimmed, (so they have to run at full power at all times) and will fail prematurely if switched on and off many times a day. Therefore people tend to leave them on all day. Regular lights would otherwise be switched off, so now a household might have 4 or 5 of these CFLs running for hours at a time, where they may have had only 1 or 2 incandescent lamps switched on (and possibly on dimmers), therefore reducing power significantly.

Venezuela, Australia, Canada, and Cuba are trying to make this the legal standard and phasing out the regular light bulb. Phase-outs are also pending in California, New Jersey and other states as well as the European Union.

Michigan Sen. John Gleason introduced legislation on June 12 that would, if enacted, criminalize the sale of incandescent bulbs in the state beginning in 2012 !

So before we go quietly into the night and get on the bandwagon, can you please take a look at the real consequences of bringing something so dangerous into our homes that would be government mandated? And think about whether we’re going to let the world tell us that what they’re proposing is better than what we have without knowing the truth. The concern is not for the environment. GE has 119 US contaminated areas they haven’t cleaned up yet and are starting to leave their trail in China and Taiwan now.

I’m all for a free market but I don’t want my fate hanging in the balance when a neighbor tosses out a deadly CFL grenade.

I personally don’t want to live in a fluorescent world which is why I started to research the topic. What I’ve been discovering is unnerving and painful to think about. But we have to make our own decisions, not let the government tell us how to live.

While we’re working toward a more sustainable future for the environment, we have to consider the cost to humans and the planet, not only of the bulb we pull from the shelf. We have to consider the raw materials it will now take to produce them. The components and the labor and the shipping and the electricity and the outsourcing and the packaging it costs to make them are exponentially higher. Consumers have to consider this carefully. It’s easy to believe that the governments of the world have assessed and researched and determined what “greener” purchases we should make. But the truth is they were lobbied heavier than at any time in history for this switchover and the homework just wasn’t done.

Until governments world-wide can ensure that proper safeguards and decent safe working conditions are a requirement for “environmentally friendly” products, these products should simply be banned from sale.

Please join me in boycotting these bulbs until we have more information about the damage they’re doing. The links on the blogroll have my sources and other extensive data research. Please check them out. Time is off the essence as they’re trying to make this happen by spring of next year while they think we’re not looking.

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