Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Minister still hasn't rowed back on bulb ban

Just because I haven't complained lately doesn't mean I'm any happier about the ban on incandescent bulbs coming at the end of this year. I haven't heard that the Minister has seen sense on this, so I assume it's all go for CFL lighting.

Over the weekend I came across a remark that these bulbs can cause problems for people with autism. I didn't find a whole lot online about this (other than this), so I don't know how big an issue this is.

I also came across the troubles Brandy Bridges of Maine experienced when a CFL bulb broke in her home.
Aware that CFLs contain potentially hazardous substances, Bridges called her local Home Depot for advice. The store told her that the CFL contained mercury and that she should call the Poison Control hotline, which in turn directed her to the Maine Department of Environmental Protection.

The DEP sent a specialist to Bridges' house to test for mercury contamination. The specialist found mercury levels in the bedroom in excess of six times the state's "safe" level for mercury contamination of 300 billionths of a gram per cubic meter. The DEP specialist recommended that Bridges call an environmental cleanup firm, which reportedly gave her a "low-ball" estimate of US$2,000 to clean up the room. The room then was sealed off with plastic and Bridges began "gathering finances" to pay for the US$2,000 cleaning.
Okay, let's get this straight right off - if a bulb breaks in my house I WILL NOT be contacting the Department of the Environment.

Eventually, the Maine government changed its call and recommended that people follow the Federal guidelines for handling broken fluorescent bulbs.

As I read these guidelines all I could think about is "Why do I want this in my house? Sure bulbs don't break that often, but they do break - especially if you have children who do, on occasion, throw socks, pillows, soft toys, whatever around the house. Again, why would I want this danger in my house or this hassle in my life?

I have a few CFL bulbs in use where I think they're safe and the opportunity for hassle is minimal, but I'm very, very reluctant to have them in carpeted rooms.