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Cheers - AE

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Another green symbol under attack.

I can't recall when I first came across the problems with new eco compact fluorescent bulbs not working with dimmers and containing mercury, but it was a few years ago (and I have the interwebs to thank, natch). I do actually have some in the house, but only because they were freebies. I have to say that on top of everything else it's true about the crap light they give as well, which is why I have a cupboard full of incandescent bulbs that I decided to stock up on before the eco-tools persuade the Australian government to ban them altogether. So I'm glad to see the MSM making the same points, even if in the form of a blog.
After several years of using compact fluorescent bulbs, I've concluded that they don't last half as long as the manufacturers promised. Worse, I'm starting to worry about the mercury in them, particularly now that old-fashoned incandescent bulbs have been banned.

I recently heard from a man who knows a lot more about this than I do, having worked for years in heavy industry and specialised in the analysis of oil and gas samples. He points out that evaporated mercury got into the air conditioning at one of the buildings owned by the multinational company for which he worked (for reasons that I hope will be obvious, I'm not using his name).
"Spills were not noticed or cleaned up," he says. Over a year, roughly 80 people were permanently injured by mercury vapour. "Their teeth fell out first, then they got the shakes and malaria-type symptoms." It was months before the employer realised what the problem was and put things right.

This man was astounded to see mercury bulbs up for sale without a health warning. He points out that it's illegal to transport them by plane because of the high mercury content, and that it would have been illegal a few years ago even to sell the bulbs till the EU legalised them - at the same time as banning mercury-based thermometers.

"All I can say is that if you or your family have mercury bulbs at home," says my informant, "get rid of them. If you want to promote low energy bulbs, then go for LED bulbs."
And this is written by a reasonably dedicated greenie. Not so green, however, that he's buying LED bulbs yet. Like Al Jahom recently mentioned, LED bulbs can be as much as 30 quid. As with the lack of solar panels covering every roof, there comes a point where even the most die hard eco-friend won't install things that cost so much the potential savings are many years away. for most people loving the planet comes second to looking after your wallet.
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