"Green" LED Lightbulbs Contain Arsenic and Other Poisons

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First it was the Compact Fluorescent Lightbulbs (CFL), hailed by Greens as the environmentally superior alternative to the traditional incandescent lightbulbs because of their low-energy consumption and longer life.

"Green" propaganda

Then we later discover those wonderful CFLs actually contain mercury that’s so toxic to human and animal life that the breaking of a CFL necessitates the same careful handling and disposal as required by the EPA for hazardous waste disposal.

The Greens also hail the LED (light-emitting diode) as good for the environment.
LED is a semiconductor light source that’s increasingly used for lighting in applications as diverse as replacements for aviation lighting, automotive lighting (particularly brake lamps, turn signals and indicators), traffic signals, and those pretty little Christmas lights. Infrared LEDs are also used in the remote control units of many commercial products including televisions, DVD players, and other domestic appliances.

We are told that LEDs offer many advantages over incandescent light sources including lower energy consumption, longer lifetime, improved robustness, smaller size, faster switching, and greater durability and reliability. 
But now, a study by scientists at the Irvine and Davis campuses of the University of California finds that LEDs actually contain highly-toxic cancer-causing metals, including arsenic, lead, nickel, and copper. According to “LED products billed as eco-friendly contain toxic metals, study finds ” on the website UC Irvine Today, February 10, 2011:

Those light-emitting diodes marketed as safe, environmentally preferable alternatives to traditional lightbulbs actually contain lead, arsenic and a dozen other potentially hazardous substances, according to newly published research.
“LEDs are touted as the next generation of lighting. But as we try to find better products that do not deplete energy resources or contribute to global warming, we have to be vigilant about the toxicity hazards of those marketed as replacements,” said Oladele Ogunseitan, chair of UC Irvine’s Department of Population Health & Disease Prevention.
He and fellow scientists at UCI and UC Davis crunched, leached and measured the tiny, multicolored lightbulbs sold in Christmas strands; red, yellow and green traffic lights; and automobile headlights and brake lights. Their findings? Low-intensity red lights contained up to eight times the amount of lead allowed under California law, but in general, high-intensity, brighter bulbs had more contaminants than lower ones. White bulbs copntianed the least lead, but had high levels of nickel.
“We find the low-intensity red LEDs exhibit significant cancer and noncancer potentials due to the high content of arsenic and lead,” the team wrote in the January 2011 issue of Environmental Science & Technology, referring to the holiday lights. Results from the larger lighting products will be published later, but according to Ogunseitan, “it’s more of the same.”
Lead, arsenic and many additional metals discovered in the bulbs or their related parts have been linked in hundreds of studies to different cancers, neurological damage, kidney disease, hypertension, skin rashes and other illnesses. The copper used in some LEDs also poses an ecological threat to fish, rivers and lakes.
Ogunseitan said that breaking a single light and breathing fumes would not automatically cause cancer, but could be a tipping point on top of chronic exposure to another carcinogen. And – noting that lead tastes sweet – he warned that small children could be harmed if they mistake the bright lights for candy.
Risks are present in all parts of the lights and at every stage during production, use and disposal, the study found. Consumers, manufacturers and first responders to accident scenes ought to be aware of this, Ogunseitan said. When bulbs break at home, residents should sweep them up with a special broom while wearing gloves and a mask, he advised. Crews dispatched to clean up car crashes or broken traffic fixtures should don protective gear and handle the material as hazardous waste. Currently, LEDs are not classified as toxic and are disposed of in regular landfills. Ogunseitan has forwarded the study results to California and federal health regulators.
He cites LEDs as a perfect example of the need to mandate product replacement testing. The diodes are widely hailed as safer than compact fluorescent bulbs, which contain dangerous mercury. But, he said, they weren’t properly tested for potential environmental health impacts before being marketed as the preferred alternative to inefficient incandescent bulbs, now being phased out under California law. A long-planned state regulation originally set to take effect Jan. 1 would have required advance testing of such replacement products. But it was opposed by industry groups, a less stringent version was substituted, and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger placed the law on hold days before he left office.
“I’m frustrated, but the work continues,” said Ogunseitan, a member of the state Department of Toxic Substances Control’s Green Ribbon Science Panel. He said makers of LEDs and other items could easily reduce chemical concentrations or redesign them with truly safer materials. “Every day we don’t have a law that says you cannot replace an unsafe product with another unsafe product, we’re putting people’s lives at risk,” he said. “And it’s a preventable risk.”

Brainwashed by the Greens, governments around the world began banning incandescent lightbulbs. Brazil and Venezuela started to phase them out in 2005, and the European Union, Switzerland, and Australia started to phase them out in 2009.
In the United States, Congress snuck in Subtitle B of Title III into the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, which was signed into law by President George W. Bush. Subtitle B is a de facto ban on the incandescent light bulb, scheduled to take effect fully in 2012.
Thankfully, when the new GOP-majority House came on board in January this year, 15 Representatives led  by Joe Barton (R-Texas), Michael Burgess (R-Texas) and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tennessee), introduced the Better Use of Light Bulbs Act, H.R. 91, to repeal the incandescent ban.
Congress needs to look into the toxic and cancer-causing LEDs as well.
So why does our feral guvmint go out of its way to ban the traditional non-toxic incandescent light bulbs and instead promote CFLs containing mercury and LEDs containing arsenic and other toxic metals?
According to Dr. Peter Thornes in “Light Bulb Clarity: New Electric Politics,” it is not really about banning light bulbs, it’s rather about pushing the sales of CFLs and LEDs, for which a ban is just another step on the way. It should be noted that Obama’s energy secretary Steven Chu, who is mad about CFLs and thinks the American people are “just like your teenage kids” who “aren’t acting in a way that they should act,” has a vested interest in promoting those dangerous mercury-filled light bulbs: Chu’s lab developed it, as he himself has admitted! (H/t peterdub)
Chu was Director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory before Obama made him energy czar.

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0 responses to “"Green" LED Lightbulbs Contain Arsenic and Other Poisons

  1. Gorebulbs: Because mercury spills are more enviro-friendly than some nasty ol’ carbon filament, so there! (Uh, why did they think this was a good idea, again?)

    • Incandescent bulbs have not used carbon filaments since the days of Thomas Edison.
      They use tungsten alloys.
      Thanks for your contribution to the growing body of ignorance in America.

  2. The unpublicised industrial politics behind the ban, with documentation and copies of official communications:

    • Thank you, Peter, for the link. Most interesting. I added that info to this post, with a h/t to you. 😉

      • Thanks for that Eowyn!
        Just to clarify re Steven Chu and the CFLs,
        yes people don’t generally know of that connection,
        though maybe you could quote what the ceolas.net site actually says,
        I wouldn’t go so far as saying he has a vested interest, or is crazy about them… 😉

        • Peter,
          That is why I did not use quotation marks around those words. They are my understanding of Chu, not Dr. Peter Thornes, erh, yours. 😉
          I also read other accounts of Chu going on about CFLs. So in my judgment, he is “mad about” CFLs and he does have a conflict of interest because the Lawrence Berkeley Lab (I got my Ph.D. from UC Berkeley), of which he was Director, developed CFLs.

          • UC Berkeley has a nice revolutionary ring to it!
            Certainly it’s odd how the US Dept of Energy figures are used regarding lighting as in the Obama/Chu presentation of savings 2009… by including non-incandescent lighting the supposed savings seem bigger, as per below comment…
            and the “saving of lots of coal power plant” argument also made at that time doesn’t hold even with supposed savings 🙂

  3. Ban proponents dismiss talk of “bad CFls and LEDs”with “new lights are better”, “halogens will be allowed” etc.
    Such a defence of the ban misses the point:
    All lights have their advantages, including ordinary incandescents over halogens, and even if there were energy savings,
    citizens pay for the electricity they use: There is no shortage of energy, including of future low emission electricity, that justifies a limitation on what citizens can use.
    Even if if there was a shortage of the finite coal/oil/gas sources, then their price rise limits their use anyway – without legislation.
    Moreover: light bulbs don’t give out any CO2 gas – power plants might. If there is an energy supply/emissions problem – deal with the problem!
    Why supposed energy savings are not there anyway:
    with US Dept of Energy references = Under 1% overall energy savings from energy efficiency regulations on incandescent lights.

  4. “Then we later discover those wonderful CFLs actually contain mercury that’s so toxic to human and animal life that the breaking of a CFL necessitates the same careful handling and disposal as required by the EPA for hazardous waste disposal.”
    Look again. The hysteria about lead and mercury has an agenda behind it and that agenda is not science. (Can you say, “Ban bullets!” For the children of course!)
    Lead and mercury are really not very toxic at all. I have a mouth full of mercury, and so do millions of others. I suppose the number of people walking around with chunks of lead in them (bullets) may number in the thousands, if not the tens of thousands. Doctors often leave bullets in patients because, depending on the location, digging them out is more trouble than it’s worth. Unless they are in a position to migrate to a nerve or artery, they just sit there and do nothing. No big deal.
    Years ago I read a National Geographic article about mercury mining. There were cool pictures of rock walls visibly weeping mercury, and a miner floating, fully clothed, in a pool of the stuff. It looked like fun! Health problems? Nil. The minors took a steam bath every day to sweat the worst of it out of their pores, and life went on. No big deal.
    Or search out a YouTube video of a professor floating an iron ball in a vat of mercury. Look at all those scary protective clothes he’s wearing! Not. A pair of rubber gloves. That’s it. And he didn’t need those, either.
    Now, many mercury and lead compounds are highly toxic (but some aren’t), but neither metal forms compounds at the drop of a hat. You certainly don’t want to drink tea from a ceramic pot from Mexico, because chances are the glaze is full of soluble lead compounds that will make you very sick. Been there, done that. And messing with 19th century textile dies just might make you mad as a hatter. (It was poisoning form mercury salts that led to that saying.)
    But a thermometer or CFL dropped on the floor? Sweep it up, throw it out, and move on.
    No big deal.
    Hysteria is very useful to would-be masters.

    • Mark, re Hysteria is very useful to would-be masters.
      True, but CFLs being OK
      doesn’t justify rules on light bulbs just based on their energy use
      “all lights have advantages – none should be banned”
      as in the comments above, halogen incandescents still being different to regular bulbs in various ways, and of course more expensive

      • Agreed. I’m not defending the ban – it’s none of Congress’ business!
        I’m just pointing out that there is hysteria on both sides. Hysteria is never the friend of truth or liberty.

  5. Then, of course, there’s the Easy-Bake Oven… it uses a 100-watt incandescent bulb as its heat source and doesn’t work with the CFL. Oops. No one took that into account.

  6. This is disheartening news, but it shouldn’t deter people from switching to energy-saving bulbs, particularly CFLs, which even with mercury content, are a net gain for the environment and energy security. We’re talking 20 coal-fired power plants-worth of energy and pollution if Americans would make the switch. Not to mention substantial savings on your home electric bill.

  7. First of all, only 75 “scientists” worldwide buy into this world con job of global warming and thousands more openly tell us they’re full of crap. Of course, you’ll have to stop watching the MainSlime Media to know that as they sure won’t tell you – It’s their agenda. They should be tried for treason.
    The CFL’s are one huge joke and it’s on us. The fire hazard they present are akin to having a flame thrower go off in your living/bedroom whenever it wants to and that’s no exaggeration. Don’t buy a bulb that makes you evacuate your own home and dress up in a Hazmat suit to clean up if it happens to break!
    Does anyone know how little LEDs weigh (not the Xmas lights, the home replacement fixtures) especially the new ones?? Pick one up (ask the electrician at any Home Depot) and know that “high levels of copper and lead” is a bunch of BS! I’m an electrician and I’m telling you that has to be a flat out lie.
    Now, I’m no tree-hugging Commie with an agenda to bring down Capitalism to overthrow our freedom but, using one-sixth (that’s 1/6th) the wattage of an incandescent which lasts 50,000 hours makes damn good sense to me and it should to you.
    The money is right also! A new LED 6″ can replacement light costs $50 which is equivalent to 16 or more 65W incandescent flood lights (16 X 5 = $80.-) AND it’s better light to see in where we may not EVER have to jump on a ladder to change it out!
    I don’t have any idea who these Commies in Kalifornia are trying to sell this line of crap about copper and lead but, I’m telling you that’s what it is.
    Lets use the commonsense we were born with and stop being gullible, right?

  8. You should have also said that incandescents exceed hazardous waste levels and can’t be thrown in landfills due to their heavy lead content. It seems they all are toxic on some level.

  9. I always make a point of tossing used CFLs and LEDs into the normal trash disposal, because, hey! the Earth deserves it!

  10. I don’t understand why you would say that researchers are “discovering” what is in LED’s, when it is well know already. Yes there is Arsenic but in the form of stable crystalline semiconductor which is inert to the human body. As far as finding Lead that could be do to make contact to the semiconductor on the cathode side. While most LED’s are encased in high impact plastics which are very hard to break.

    • V-dog,
      I don’t understand why you attribute the “discovering” to me. I specifically cited a research study by scientists at U.C. Davis.
      I humbly suggest you communicate your superior scientific knowledge and your disdain about the research findings to the team at U.C. Davis.


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