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.
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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