Dazzling Knowledge

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Another stupid idea from government

Remember when the government banned regular light bulbs so that we would all have to use crappy compact fluorescents? Oopsie!

What is it about government mandates that curse innovation to failure?
NBC’s “Today” show featured the bulbs on its “Today Goes Green” series Jan. 23, 2008, as one way average Americans can adjust their lives to be more “environmentally friendly.”
But what the media ignored or downplayed in the run-up to the ban was that CFLs contain mercury, a highly toxic metal infamous for its presence in thermometers. In the last two years, network news shows mentioned the CFL-mercury link only seven times. Four of the reports came after the incandescent ban had already been signed into law.

Each CFL contains about 5 milligrams of mercury. That’s enough for state environmental agencies to recommend complicated and expensive cleanups for accidental bulb breaks in homes.

The Maine Department of Environmental Protection recommended a woman contact a hazardous waste cleanup company when a CFL broke on her child’s bedroom carpet, sending the mercury level to more than six times the “safe” limit. The crew estimated the cleanup would cost $2,000.

The Maine DEP no longer recommends such an expensive cleanup process, but now suggests a 14-point cleanup plan.

The 5 milligrams of mercury are also enough to contaminate 6,000 gallons of water beyond safe drinking levels, according to a March 19 MSNBC.com article that “extrapolated from Stanford University research on mercury.”

‘The Cost of Good Intentions’

But even when the networks mentioned the mercury risk, reporters and other proponents of the bulbs downplayed the significance, especially before the federal law was passed to ban traditional bulbs.

Several NBC broadcasts characterized mercury in CFLs as a “small amount.” ABC’s “Good Morning America” called it a “tiny amount of mercury” on May 3, 2007. Unfortunately the “tiny amount” multiplied by the millions of bulbs now in use could mean a lot of contaminated water.

Whole thing here.


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