This post is by Sheryl Canter, an online writer and editorial manager at Environmental Defense Fund.
Compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) use 75 percent less electricity than incandescent light bulbs for the same amount of light. (For why, see Bill's post "Why Switch to Compact Fluorescents".) But some people fear CFLs because of the tiny amount of mercury they contain. The risk from a broken CFL is extremely small, but CFLs should be disposed of properly so landfills aren't polluted. Sealing used bulbs in plastic bags before placing them in the trash can slow the release of mercury if the bulb breaks. But recycling is ideal.
The problem, until now, has been that recycling CFLs was inconvenient for post people. That's about to change, thanks to Home Depot. The New York Times reported this week that Home Depot will offer CFL recycling at all of its nearly 2000 U.S. stores. That puts 75 percent of Americans within 10 miles of a CFL recycling location.
This post is by John Balbus, M.D., M.P.H., Chief Health Scientist at Environmental Defense.
On February 3, Parade published a misleading Medical Alert column with the headline "Bright Lights, Bad Headache?" by Dr. Isadore Rosenfeld. It starts with a list of unsubstantiated claims:
As energy-saving fluorescent lightbulbs become standard, new research suggests some dangers: Flickering bulbs have been reported to precipitate migraines or even seizures, though manufacturers say the new models have been improved. Fluorescent light also can aggravate skin rashes in people with lupus, eczema, dermatitis or porphyria.
Environmental Defense could find no published scientific studies demonstrating that compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) trigger migraines or seizures. And unlike older fluorescent tube lights, modern CFLs with electronic ballasts don’t flicker.
This post is by Sheryl Canter, an Online Writer and Editorial Manager at Environmental Defense.
Yesterday, the New York Times ran a story about light bulbs. If you only read the beginning of the article, you might think it was saying that compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) have poor quality light. But in fact, its conclusion – after testing a wide array of bulbs – was that some are better than others.
It's true – some are better than others. For information on CFLs and how they differ, check out our online guide, How to Pick a Better Bulb.
The author of today's post, Sheryl Canter, is an Online Writer and Editorial Manager at Environmental Defense.
One reason that old-fashioned incandescent light bulbs are such a particularly poor idea in summer is that they put out a lot of heat compared to compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs). If you're air conditioning your home, incandescent lights will require your air conditioner to work harder because you're basically heating and cooling the room at the same time.
Some people have translated this into the advice that incandescent light bulbs are good in winter because they supplement the heat to your home, making up for the additional energy they draw. I asked James Wang, Ph.D., a climate scientist at Environmental Defense, to calculate whether this was indeed true. His answer was no. Here's why.
The author of today's post, John Balbus, M.D., is Chief Health Officer at Environmental Defense.
Compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) use dramatically less energy than incandescent bulbs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. But they also contain mercury – a dangerous toxin.
What if you drop a CFL and it breaks? How much trouble are you in?
Erica Rowell, today's guest blogger, is a Web Editor and Producer at Environmental Defense, and our resident expert on light bulbs.
Ever stop to wonder why, since the mid-1990's, traffic lights don't seem to burn out? They can't be using old-fashioned incandescent bulbs – those burn out all the time. Maybe they switched to longer-lasting compact fluorescent lights (CFLs)? Nope. Today's stop lights use light-emitting diodes (LEDs).
LEDs last 35,000 to 50,000 hours – five times longer than the average CFL, and 50 times longer than an incandescent bulb. In fact, because the technology is so different, they don't really ever burn out. They just get dimmer over time – a long time. Today's LEDs produce more light per watt than conventional bulbs but they're not quite as efficient as CFLs… yet. On the plus side, unlike CFLs they contain no mercury whatsoever.
You can find LEDs in all kinds of places – flashlights, television remotes, car headlights, flat screen displays, exit signs and even holiday lights, just to name a few. So, thinking of buying some LED light bulbs?
Erica Rowell, today's guest blogger, is a Web Editor and Producer at Environmental Defense, and our resident expert on compact fluorescents.
Last year, in converting my apartment to energy-saving compact fluorescent lights (CFLs), I broke two. I opened the window, swept up the fragments, wiped the floor with a damp paper towel, put the towel and the broken CFLs in a plastic bag and tied it. My super disposed of the bag. I'm not worried about mercury exposure – they broke a couple of months ago, and my cats and I are fine. A similar incident in Maine was a different story.
When Brandy Bridges shattered a CFL spiral in her daughter's bedroom, aware that it contained trace amounts of mercury, the concerned mother looked into proper disposal. After a mishmash of good and bad advice, she ended up with a $2,000 clean-up bill and a lot of fear (read full story).
What can we learn from Ms. Bridges? Know some basic facts.
In case you haven't noticed, compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs, for short) have been in the news lately. Environmental Defense, along with scores of other environmental organizations, have been encouraging folks to switch their old-fashioned incandescent lightbulbs for CFLs. Australia has mandated that incandescents be phased out completely [PDF], and California is considering similar legislation. Here’s why.