Liza Schwab

Liza Schwab grew up in the Twin Cities and believes there is no place like home, except for Colorado and Sanibel. Schwab blogs locally on The Outspoken Mom blog. She is a stay-at-home mom to four incredible children, three of which are at three different schools. Read more about Liza Schwab.

Keep Energy Saving out of MY House.

Posted by: Liza Schwab under Education and literacy, Government, Politics Updated: September 24, 2010 - 8:30 AM

Last night after seeing a report on the news about our last major factory in the US that makes regular light bulbs (incandescent) closing down and 200 American workers losing their jobs, I did some research.

First of all, it was our own government that caused these 200 US workers to lose their jobs in the middle of one of our biggest recessions, it was also our own government that caused more outsourcing of American jobs, considering that almost all CFL's (Florescent bulbs) are made overseas, mainly China.  It was all started with a 2007 energy conservation measure that was passed by Congress; it set standards essentially banning all ordinary light bulbs in the US by 2014.

In many people's minds, our government forcing us to be more energy efficient is a good thing, for me, I don't buy into it.  There is only 1 light fixture in my home that uses CFL's and the ONLY reason I even use them there is because it is an old fixture and it burns out too many lightbulbs because of heat.  I can't wait for the day, I can replace that light fixture so I can use regular light bulbs again. 

I have many issues with CFL's, mainly because of how bad they are for the environment, mainly my son's environment.  My son is on the Autism Spectrum.  What many of us don't know and don't see is Florescent bulbs flicker, almost like a strobe.  We can't see it however many on the Spectrum can and it is almost like them having a strobe light in their room.  My son was extremely agitated when I used them in his bedroom lamp, because it too runs hot so, I used CFL's in there.  Until I figured it out, he couldn't sleep, he was moody, agitated and aggressive.  Once I did some research and figured out what it might be, I quickly replaced his light bulbs with regular ones and instantly, he was back to 'normal'.  That was the end of CFL's in our house.  So I continued to do more research on CFL's and discovered some things that disturbed me.

Besides them being made almost completely in China, they also contain Mercury.  Yes, each bulb only contains up to 5 milligrams of Mercury compared to the old Mercury Thermometers that contains 1/2 gram to 1 1/2 grams of Mercury. (Which for those of you like me, 1 gram of Mercury is equal to 1000 milligrams).  OK, well wow, that doesn't seem like too much mercury, however when you think of every household in the United States and all businesses using CFL bulbs, that equals a lot of Mercury back into our environment, not to mention our homes.  I live in a very modest story and a half in Richfield, yet just counting my light bulbs on my main floor, I have 22 light bulbs, that equals 110 mg just on my first floor.  If I count the rest of the house, I add 34 more lightbulbs adding 170 more mg equaling just in my home up to 370 mg of mercury.  Again doesn't sound like much, so I did some research.

I discovered that 1 in 6 US children are exposed to toxic levels of Mercury in the womb, mostly from environmental forms of Mercury such as those found in fish.  OK, well, how much does the EPA believe is safe?  Well, lets start with another fact first, a can of Albacore tuna contains as much as 52.7 micrograms of Mercury in it. (again for those of you like me, there are 1000 micrograms per milligram)  Well, that totally sounds safe, until you read that the EPA says only 3.7 micrograms of Mercury is safe to ingest.

Doing more research, I discovered the GE website and looked under how to dispose properly of a CFL lightbulb.  Did you know you can't throw them away like a regular lightbulb?  Here is what GE says: "..like paint, batteries, and other hazardous (wait, did they just say 'hazardous'?) household items, CFL's should be disposed of properly."  Before you dispose of them, put them in a plastic bag, well that sounds environmentally good, what happens when they take away our plastic bags too?  
They went on to say, don't throw them away in the regular trash and if your trash company incinerates, never throw them in there.  However, they were nice enough to say that IKEA (only company listed) takes back CFL's and disposes of them for you. 


Then, I read about what to do if a CFL breaks:  "sweep up, don't vacuum", "place broken pieces in a sealed plastic bag (again that darn bad for the environment plastic bag!) and wipe down area with a damp paper towel to pick up any stray shards of glass or fine particles.  Put the used paper towel in the plastic bag as well."  Then comes my favorite part!  "If weather permits, open a window to allow room to ventilate."  What the heck does the room need to ventilate for or from?!

I am sure all the environmentalists feel they are 'saving' the world by making us use CFL's, just like they are saving the world by having us use Lithium batteries and 'electric' cars.  Ha, just a quick fact on Lithium people...it is mined mostly in 3rd world countries by child labor!  But heck, all is fair in 'saving' the environment!  Oh and yes, those electric cars, yes they 'magically' get power by that little outlet in the garage, yes the energy is just 'magic'. 

I am all for picking up garbage, using less,,..which us Americans hate to hear, and trying to keep our country, air, and water clean.  But it all comes at a price that I am not willing to pay, so keep your recycling, your CFL bulbs, and your Prius's out of my house.  I will stick with my V8 SUV, my regular light bulbs (which I plan to stock up on), for those of you wondering, no I don't recycle.

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