It is a bit of news that you might easily pass over.Ai?? In short, soon you may be forced to buy those squiggly fluorescent light bulbs rather than the traditional incandescent ones.Ai?? House Republicans are fighting the measures, however, and are pushing legislation that would overturn those set in a 2007 energy act requiring efficiency upgrades in the old-fashioned incandescent light bulb.Ai?? While the debate over freedom is certainly a valuable one, we want to stop for a moment and consider the health debate with regards to the amount of mercury contained in the new efficient light bulbs.

“The amount (of mercury) is tiny ai??i?? about 5 milligrams, or barely enough to cover the tip of a pen.” Sounds harmless enough, right?Ai?? Not exactly.Ai?? “That is enough to contaminate up to 6,000 gallons of water beyond safe drinking levels,” according to research at Stanford University.Ai?? Still, critics label the amount “negligible,” and tell us to “not be alarmed” if a florescent bulb happens to break.Ai?? Taken from the EPA’s website: “These steps are precautions and reflect best practices for cleaning up a broken CFL.Ai?? If you are unable to follow them fully, don’t be alarmed.Ai?? CFLs contain a very small amount of mercury — less than 1/100th of the amount in a mercury thermometer.”

One would then expect to read just a few simple instructions, but far from it.

* 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:
… stiff paper or cardboard;
… sticky tape;
… damp paper towels or disposable wet wipes (for hard surfaces); and
… a glass jar with a metal lid or a sealable plastic bag.

In the typical American household, how many will actually leave the room for 10 minutes, turn off their air-conditioning, and use sticky tape to make sure no mercury debris is left on the floor?Ai?? ai???Itai??i??s kind of ironic that on the one hand, the agency is saying, ai???Donai??i??t worry, itai??i??s a very small amount of mercury.ai??i?? Then they have a whole page of [instructions] how to handle the situation if you break one,ai??? says Ellen Silbergeld, a professor of environmental health sciences at Johns Hopkins University and editor of the journal Environmental Research.

There is no disputing that overall, fluorescent bulbs save energy.Ai?? After all, a spiral fluorescent bulb can last as long as 10,000 hours.Ai?? But, we are talking about a hazardous substance that is known to cause both kidney and brain damage, not to mention what it could potentially do to the earth and our landfills.Ai?? ai???I think thereai??i??s going to be hundreds of millions of [CFLs] in landfills all over the country,ai??? said Leonard Worth, head of Fluorecycle Inc. of Ingleside, Ill., a certified facility.

In the end, no one argues that LED lighting is by far the best, containing no mercury whatsoever.Ai?? It is still, unfortunately, in its infant stages in mainstream society.Ai?? So, the debate continues, and lawmakers will soon ultimately decide our future energy fates.

Written by: Staff
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