And why were hatters mad? Because in earlier centuries, hat makers used mercury to cure pelts used in some hats, and in so doing, inhaled mercury fumes. The result? Hatters often suffered mercury poisoning that caused neurological damage, damage that included confused speech, distorted vision, and lack of coordination.
Now the federal government has mandated that you put mercury in your home in the form of light bulbs (even as they warn you about it in your fish). As John Hinderaker of Power Line writes:
You could say that requiring Americans to remove pretty much all of the light bulbs now in use and replace them with bulbs that people don’t want is the ultimate in nanny statism, except that nannies don’t generally poison the children in their care.
In 2007, Congress passed (and to his eternal shame, Pres. George W. Bush signed) the Energy Independence and Security Act, an energy bill that placed strict efficiency requirements on incandescent bulbs in an attempt to phase them out beginning in 2012 and replace them with more expensive (but supposedly more energy-efficient) bulbs, the most popular being compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs). One side effect of that legislation was the September 2010 closing of General Electric’s last major incandescent factory in this country and the laying off of 200 workers. Most of these jobs will head over to China, where many of the CFLs sold in the U.S. are made.
And what’s so bad about CFLs? The worst thing (among several) is that CFLs contain mercury, and exposure to mercury vapor is dangerous if the bulbs break.
So what happens when your new CFL does break? The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) basically declares your house a hazmat area. (Please, go look for yourself, I’ll wait—check online here at epa.gov/cfl/cflcleanup.pdf)
Did you read the list? Before you can even start cleaning up, you’re supposed to do the following:
- Have people and pets leave the room. (Why? Because mercury vapor is poisonous.)
- Air out the room for 5 to10 minutes by opening a window or door to the outdoor environment. (Once again, why? Because the government has mandated that you put poison in your home.)
- Shut off the central forced air heating/air conditioning system, if you have one. (Because we don’t want the mercury poison to travel throughout your home’s air system.)
- Collect materials needed to clean up the broken bulb. (To clean up an incandescent bulb just requires my hands and a trash can. Now, according to the EPA, I will need: stiff paper or cardboard, sticky tape, damp paper towels or disposable wet wipes, and a glass jar with a metal lid or a sealable plastic bag.)
Who wants to bet that many people won’t follow these guidelines, and that 10 or 15 years from now, we will hear from the environmentalists that our ground water and landfills are replete with mercury and will require massive amounts of government funds to clean up?
Already, hospitals warn that CFL bulbs can cause migraines and epilepsy attacks. Others point out that CFLs don’t work well in colder temperatures and Americans will then be forced to use more heat (thus negating any gains in energy efficiency). CFLs don’t work well with dimmer switches, can take up to several minutes to reach full brightness, and the lifespan of the bulb diminishes when it’s turned on and off frequently.
But all that “don’t make no never mind,” because beginning January 2012, 100-watt bulbs will be declared unacceptable to the federal government and therefore no longer available to you. (The state of California, just to show it’s in the forefront of foolish ideas, upped their date to January 2011, so as of now, no more 100-watt incandescent bulbs for sale there.) This diminution of choice will completely disappear in January 2014, when the last remaining wattage, 40-watt bulbs, will be declared enemies of the environment and removed from store shelves. Then you can start worrying about your deadly mercury bulbs . . . if you haven’t already.
Am I stockpiling incandescents?
Why, yes. Yes, I am.
(And check out this as well.)