Monday, June 29, 2009

Health Canada Issues Warning About CFLs

Story here.

ht: NNW

OTTAWA — Compact fluorescent lightbulbs may be energy efficient but their potential hazards have prompted Health Canada to warn of effects ranging from too much UV exposure to possible mercury poisoning.

The department is already studying both ultraviolet radiation and electrical and magnetic field emissions from the bulbs, and says it will take “corrective measures” with manufacturers “if necessary.”

n the latest “It’s Your Health” newsletter, Health Canada also offers almost two pages of detailed cleanup instructions in the event a bulb, which contains a tiny daub of mercury, is broken.

Several countries have moved to ban traditional, energy-guzzling incandescent lights by 2012, prompting their replacement with the compact fluorescents — or CFLs. Often shaped like a spiral, CFLs are a modern variant of tube-style fluorescent lights.

The ultraviolet radiation CFLs emit isn’t hazardous to most people, Health Canada says. However “some people are extremely sensitive to UV and may be affected by the amount of UV produced,” says its newsletter. That could include people with Lupus, other autoimmune diseases, or sensitive skin.

Perhaps they should be banned to prevent health hazards. Like fragrances are banned in public places. Like smoking is banned in many public places. Really, we shouldn't use them. Besides, they're expensive to manufacture and buy, and they're environmentally hazardous to throw away, with the mercury content! They're also known to be much more likely to catch fire than incandescents.

There are no known health hazards with incandescent bulbs, and, really, they don't use all that much energy. I can tell by looking at my power bill that their energy consumption is very, very small relative to things like using the stove/oven, home heating and hot water.