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March 2009
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CFL’s Smart Saving or Snake Oil?

Compact Fluorescent Lights aka CFL's, have made significant inroads into the lighting market touting energy savings and long life. I use them but more for experimentation. I like a little more daylight in my lighting rather than the yellow that most of these bulbs produce.  They have a bumpy road as they each contain 5 milligrams of mercury, which during the initial push was downplayed as being insignificant, despite warnings from the EPA on proceedures on cleanup of broken bulbs.

I am not going to get into an argument about how 'insignficant' 5 milligrams is except to note that mercury's  cumulative effect has been amply demonstrated by  restrictions and recommendations regarding eating seafood at various times in the recent past.

Some companies that sell these bulbs have instituted recycling programs for used CFL's, which on the one hand would seem to be an environmentally responsive thing for a company to do, giving you a warm fuzzy using them, but on the other hand, I see this as more of a PR stunt than a serious attempt to greenwash stores that sell them. On the gripping hand I see this as a liability issue down the road, as the recyclers who are going to be recovering this material, will be left holding the bag when an industrial sized spill happens.

This morning I ran across this article on the NYT website:

which addresses the growing issue of people not getting their money's worth due to premature failure. So not only do you have a disposal problem, but you are not getting the advertised savings. We live in interesting times.