The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

11 May 2007

Cruel twists of fate

Do compact fluorescent bulbs present an unreasonable hazard? Maybe, maybe not. (I lean more toward "not," myself, but that's just me.) Still, it's not like we otherwise never have any dealings with dangerous stuff:

[B]enzene — the primary component of gasoline — is a CDC class A carcinogen, yet we are not required to wear a haz-mat suit or use a respirator when we pump gasoline into our cars. Despite its dangers, we have lived with gasoline in our everyday lives for a century. The public outcry against excessive requirements for the handling of gasoline would be enormous, so much so that such requirements would probably be pointless.

Maybe the same thing will happen with all those mercury-containing CFL's.

Actually, I wouldn't call it a "primary" component: it makes up maybe one percent of your average tankful, and the EPA proposes to reduce this by 45 percent starting in 2011. Still, gasoline is nasty stuff, quite apart from that highly-flammable vapor, and we've learned to deal with it. I have no doubt we can learn to deal with CFLs. If nothing else, they remind us that ultimately everything is a trade-off.

Posted at 11:12 AM to Dyssynergy


I bought some of those squirrelly looking light bulbs thinking that maybe they do save money. THEN I read they have mercury in them. Now I don't know what to do with them, I guess I will use them, although I am not sure I will buy more of them.

Posted by: Heather at 9:54 PM on 11 May 2007

Well, gas USED to have lead in it, even after we knew what it did to people & animals.

Mercury in modern compact fluorescent bulbs: Less than exists in a thermometer. The alternative: Buying an incandescent bulb, which is responsible for far MORE pollution, due to the additional power required to run it. The difference is, you know the mercury is right there in the bulb, but you do not see the pollution. You're breathing it, though, while by contrast the tiny amount of mercury in a compact fluoresecent CAN be contained.

Posted by: Mister Snitch! at 7:46 AM on 12 May 2007