Howard M. Brandston



SAVE THE INCANDESCENT LIGHT BULB!

The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 will now phase out incandescent light bulbs in favor of CFLs (compact fluorescent lamps) beginning in September 2012. Thanks to US Congress, the incandescent ban was halted momentarily giving more time to speak out in defense of Thomas Edison's time-tested invention.

While the federal government's commitment to energy conservation is commendable, the law banning incandescents and prescribing CFLs is preposterous. CFLs are a valid solution for certain lighting applications, but today's CFLs are not, and never can be, the replacement for the tried and true bulbs that light the majority of our life. Contrary to popular perception:

• CFL energy savings is insignificant, and does not solve the global energy crisis;
• CFLs presents serious health, environment, and basic living concerns for every person at home and in the workplace;
• Primarily made in China, CFLs contain rare earth elements and have production and quality control issues, making these bulbs more costly;
• Lighting alternatives such as halogens, LEDs, and high-performance incandescents are far more costly, forcing consumers back to using CFLs.

While higher prices hurt families, one cannot ignore the inviolable right of consumers to choose which products they wish to purchase. Regardless of one's political affiliation, consumer choice is as all-American as apple pie, lemonade, and light bulbs. It's a simple no-brainer and for this reason alone, the ban should be repealed.

In my nearly 60 years of lighting practice and close examination of this issue in the past 5 years, I see no good reason to relegate one of America's greatest inventions to the dustbin of history-other than to suit the particular interests of uninformed politicians, light manufacturing giants and their lobbyists, and energy zealots.

ACT NOW - Help Make the Repeal a Reality, not just a postponement.

Continued public pressure is our best chance to repeal our government's irresponsible law. Spread the word. Contact your Legislators and local media with this Sample Letter (.doc version | .odt version) that outlines the concerns.

You can also contact the Secretary of Energy: The.Secretary@hq.doe.gov

CURRENT NEWS - 2012

Mercury? Thermometers No! Light Bulbs Yes! Read the detailed facts in Mondo arc, March 2012.

Consumer Reports March 2012 succumbs to misinformed data and perception. Read my Letter to the Editor.

Even more alarming than our right to choose, are the life, health, and safety issues that may develop from increased CFL use and exposure.

The ban will dim everyday life as we know it. CFLs rate well below incandescents on the color scale, producing less light and poor color by comparison. Headaches will escalate. Art, your loved ones, and objects will never look the same. Get ready for a general atmosphere of sickly light and gloom. Then after you dim your CFLs to alleviate those headaches, have your fire extinguisher ready as CFLs have the potential to burn up in existing fixtures found in most homes today.

While many folks will escape a fire, no one escapes the continuous buzzing of CFLs in existing track and recessed fixtures — further adding to those headaches. Existing fixtures and dimmer controls will have to be replaced to work with CFLs — more cost for consumers, generating more profit for lighting manufacturers. And, we'll need a disposal plan for the defunct fixtures.

Importantly, beware of breaking a CFL as mercury needs to be carefully and safely cleaned up — the EPA advises immediate evacuation and airing out of the room. While the EPA provides tedious instructions for handling broken CFLs, lighting manufacturers and the government neglect to advise that:

Mercury is a toxic heavy metal that can cause severe neurological damage, even fatality. Exposure is especially dangerous for fetuses and children. A broken CFL releases mercury vapor — dangerous for homes and families.
Mercury is harmful to the environment. The 3.5-6.0 milligrams of mercury contained in each bulb is enough to taint 6,000 glasses of drinking water. A single gram of mercury will contaminate a 2-acre pond. The cumulative effect of billions of improperly disposed bulbs piling up in our landfills and leeching into our water supply certainly bodes ill for the future of our world.

Mercury is a serious and real concern. Read more: Mercuryinfluorescentlighting.pdf.

Is all this worth the energy savings?

Let's consider the CFL production process. The energy used along with the CO2 and mercury emitted into the air in the manufacturing of the ballast and transformer component in the bases of CFLs, plus the energy expended in importing the bulbs from China, cancels out any purported energy usage savings gained from CFLs.

Let's learn from California's experience since that state has already banned the incandescent bulb: they're saving a whopping $35.6 million a year. That's approximately $1.00 per person each year.

The barrage of statistical data used to support the incandescent ban and its impact on the global energy crisis is convoluted, subjective, and easily misconstrued. Far greater results could be achieved by implementing energy savings measures in a myriad of other possible industries.

Whatever happened to tried and true optimizing use and turning off lights when not needed? Of course, that public effort will not benefit lighting manufacturers, their lobbyists or politicians — it only saves energy and consumer cost.

Until technological advancements provide a better alternative, let there be light as we know it.

Lighting should serve people; their homes, lives, workplaces and well-being. Profit-seeking corporations and special political interests should not be first priority. The technology of Thomas Edison's proven bulb is safe and cost effective compared to newer, more complex, less known, questionably safe alternatives. Consumers have every right to this choice.

Obviously lighting manufacturers make more money with incandescent alternatives. But, if the ban is implemented, our government, the DOE and our National Laboratories will have effectively joined forces with the lighting industry to form a cartel. There is no anti-trust protection from a law that threatens to destroy our environment and denies us the fundamental right to choose how we light our lives.

LEARN THE FACTS

In 2011, I testified before the US Senate Energy Committee and provided specific recommendations. Read my Senate Testimony Q & A. Many sources also provide meaningful information:

EPA Mercury Health Effects
EPA Mercury Releases and Spills
EPA: CFL Clean Up Procedures (.pdf)
American Thinker: The CFL Fraud
Boston Globe Columnist Bets Against the Light Bulb Law
National Review: All American Light Bulb Dims as Freedom Flickers
Smart Energy Portal: Philips Raising Price of CFLs
American Thinker: Burned CFL (.pdf)
Washington Times: Time to Stock Up on Light Bulbs
Wikipedia: Incandescent Light Public Opposition
Hot Air: The Stupidity of Politics, Green Fables, Jobs and the Incandescent Bulb
CFL Safety
Saving the Lamp References (.pdf)
http://freeourlight.org
http://freedomlightbulb.blogspot.com
http://savethebulb.org/

My concerns have also been covered by Fox News, many radio shows, numerous journals, an interview with the NY Times Green Blog, A Defense of the Incandescent Light Bulb, and in my editorial in The Wall Street Journal.

Research into the Effects and Implications of Increased CFL Use

In September 2009, I assembled a first-class team of doctors and researchers to study the implications of the wide-spread use of CFLs. Supported in part with a grant from the IES, the primary intention was to determine if further investigation and research is warranted to re-examine the direction of current and proposed lighting related legislation. Our study included:

• A literature search of the health hazards post by Electro-magnetic Fields
• Measurements of the fields generated by CFLs
• Measurements of EMF's at installations
• Creation of a detailed list of potential problems stemming from installed CFL usage
• An analysis of actual installation system efficiencies – CFL vs. Incandescent
• An illustration of dimmer induced SPD shifts with CFLs. Illustrated with SPDs.

Our findings fully support that further research must be done. The full research report is available here. The document is large — 3MB (.pdf).