Touted by environmentalists as a more efficient and longer-lasting alternative to the incandescent bulbs, GEs compact fluorescent light bulbs save you money and energy. They last ten times longer than incandescent bulbs, and offer a choice of soft white or color options.
Consumers got on the bandwagon and bought them in droves, many lighting their entire household with these CFL’s. But are they safe? Not according to recent reports. Waste industry officials and some environmental scientists warn that the bulbs pose a threat to health and the environment. This is of pressing concern as the federal government has slotted incandescent bulbs to be phased out in 2012, to be replaced by these CFLs.
CFLs emit “dirty energy” that produces radiation that has been linked with migraine headaches, sleep abnormalities, fatigue, and other health defects while the flickering of fluorescent bulbs causes dizziness, headaches, weakness and illness in some sensitive people. And recently, a study conducted by Peter Braun at Berlin, Germany’s Alab Laboratory found CFLs to give off chemical vapors that are linked to cancer.
CFLs also contain mercury, a neurotoxin that can damage the brain, liver, kidneys and central nervous system. As long as the mercury is contained in the bulb, CFLs are safe. But eventually bulbs break or burn out, even long-lasting CFLs. When they do, “consumers simply throw them out in the trash,” said Ellen Silbergeld, a professor of environmental health sciences at Johns Hopkins University and editor of the journal Environmental Research. And this can have a collective effect on landfills once they start failing in large numbers.
What can consumers do?
Philips may have solution with the EcoVantage, a new line of incandescent light bulbs that, using halogen elements, provide energy savings of about 28 percent compared to conventional incandescents. According to a report from Sustainable Life Media, this meets or exceeds efficiency standards established in the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) of 2007.
While not as efficient as compact fluorescent or LED bulbs, which supposedly reduce energy use by up to 80 percent but are expensive, the EcoVantage is likely to appeal to consumers unhappy with the quality of light of the more energy efficient models.
The new EcoVantage bulbs will be available exclusively at Home Depot.
Sources for this article include