Question: How many congressmen does it take to screw the American public with a light bulb?
Answer: As many as it takes to pass a bill.
Thanks to your (notice I did not say “our”…I find it hard to use the words “our” or “my” preceding the word “congressmen”) congressmen, the incandescent light bulb will be put to rest in just a few more years. For more than 125 years, the light bulb has been a basic necessity in every home and in every place of business. It has allowed us to extend our days, long after the sun goes down. It has allowed night owls to work all night and sleep during the day. It has been the subject of thousands and thousands of jokes. Historical evidence shows that light bulb jokes began as an ethnic slur, implying an insult of stupidity. How appropriate that Congress inspired me to write the one above, don’t you think?!
Thanks to your congressmen, the incandescent light bulb we’ve always taken for granted will soon become illegal, and will be replaced with compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs). CFLs may be hazardous to your health, but hey…the new rules laid out by your congressmen will save $40 billion in energy and other costs from 2012 to 2030. Forget health…Congress has an answer to the energy crisis!
And no…what I just said was not just another light bulb joke. There is a congressional mandate in place banning sales of incandescent light bulbs by the year 2012. The ban will be placed on 100-watt bulbs in 2012, with the phase-out process continuing until 2014, when 40-watt bulbs will be banned. Yep…signed, sealed and delivered by Congress and Dubya.Â Way to go, Congress!
You can still have light after the sun goes down, and all you night owls (I’m one of those, but have to work during the day…sigh), can still work all night and sleep during the day. You will have compact fluorescent light bulbs to light your way. It doesn’t seem to matter to your congressmen that CFLs contain as much as 30 milligrams of mercury, and that mercury exposure can cause severe health consequences, including brain and kidney damage. It doesn’t seem to matter to your congressmen that mercury is especially dangerous for small children, pregnant women, or the developing brain of the fetus.
To be fair, I must note that some CFLs contain only 5 milligrams of mercury. But according to a Stanford University research study, even this small amount from one broken CFL is enough to contaminate 6,000 gallons of water beyond safe drinking levels.
But toxic exposure only happens if you break the bulb, right? That’s true, for the most part.Â But the mere exposure to CFL light also affects people with some health conditions. Â The Environmental Defense Fund claims that they “could find no published scientific studies demonstrating that compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) trigger migraines or seizures.”Â But according to The Migraine Action Association (MAA) in the UK, low energy bulbs can trigger a Migraine attack.Â “Other concerns come from people with lupus, and epilepsy. People have experienced dizziness, lack of concentration, and pain from exposure to CFLs.”
For people with these health conditions, how will this affect their quality of life?Â As the use of CFLs increase, it will only make it even more difficult for them to attend school, go to work, or even to the grocery store or the bank.
The exposure to mercury comes from breaking a CFL bulb.Â Mercury is a natural occurring metal that accumulates in the body, and can cause serious nervous system damage. It has been linked to a host of harmful conditions like autism, heart disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, infertility and many more. Your body has already accumulated a certain amount of mercury from things like air emissions, seafood, dental fillings, flu shots and vaccines, etc.
Remember…mercury accumulates in your body tissues and continues to build up with more exposure. Bottom line…when you break a CFL bulb, you are releasing a powerful neurotoxin in your home. Birth defects, neurodegenerative diseases, developmental disorders, dementia… these have all been linked to mercury exposure. Can we risk contamination from even one broken CFL bulb, adding to our body burden of mercury?
A group of researchers recently conducted a study, breaking 65 CFLs and then testing the air quality and EPA recommended clean-up methods. What they found was that, in many cases immediately after the break (and sometimes even after clean-up), the levels of mercury were as much as 100 times higher than federal guidelines for chronic exposure.
Way to go, Congressmen!Â Did you even bother to do the research?
Here are the EPA recommended step-by-step guidelines for helping you clean-up a broken CFL so that your family is not exposed to mercury.Â What are the chances that the general public knows the dangers of breaking one of these bulbs, and knows how to clean up properly?Â I mean…when you buy a light bulb, do you actually read the fine print?
Before Clean-up: Ventilate the Room
* Have people and pets leave the room, and don’t let anyone walk through the breakage area on their way out.
* Open a window and leave the room for 15 minutes or more.
* Shut off the central forced-air heating/air conditioning system, if you have one.
Clean-Up Steps for Hard Surfaces
* Carefully scoop up glass fragments and powder using stiff paper or cardboard and place them in a glass jar with metal lid (such as a canning jar) or in a sealed plastic bag.
* Use sticky tape, such as duct tape, to pick up any remaining small glass fragments and powder.
* Wipe the area clean with damp paper towels or disposable wet wipes and place them in the glass jar or plastic bag.
* Do not use a vacuum or broom to clean up the broken bulb on hard surfaces.
Clean-up Steps for Carpeting or Rug
* Carefully pick up glass fragments and place them in a glass jar with metal lid (such as a canning jar) or in a sealed plastic bag.
* Use sticky tape, such as duct tape, to pick up any remaining small glass fragments and powder.
* If vacuuming is needed after all visible materials are removed, vacuum the area where the bulb was broken.
* Remove the vacuum bag (or empty and wipe the canister), and put the bag or vacuum debris in a sealed plastic bag.
Disposal of Clean-up Materials
* Immediately place all cleanup materials outside the building in a trash container or outdoor protected area for the next normal trash.
* Wash your hands after disposing of the jars or plastic bags containing clean-up materials.
* Check with your local or state government about disposal requirements in your specific area. Some states prohibit such trash disposal and require that broken and unbroken mercury-containing bulbs be taken to a local recycling center.
Future Cleaning of Carpeting or Rug: Ventilate the Room During and After Vacuuming
* The next several times you vacuum, shut off the central forced-air heating/air conditioning system and open a window prior to vacuuming.
* Keep the central heating/air conditioning system shut off and the window open for at least 15 minutes after vacuuming is completed.
Let’s assume for a minute that someone has actually read the proper clean-up guidelines, has educated each member of the family on proper clean-up guidelines and proper disposal of the CFL, and each member of the family actually follows those guidelines, and always disposes of the CFL properly.Â Let’s assume that this health-conscious, law-abiding family is a renter.
Tell me this, congressmen.Â How can this family be sure that the previous renter of that property never broke a CFL bulb, or if they did, followed the proper clean-up guidelines for these neurotoxin emitting bulbs?Â How can they be certain that this deadly neurotoxin is not being recirculated in the room and through the air vents to every room each time they vacuum?Â How can they be certain that there are no tiny balls of mercury in the carpet that their toddler will find and swallow?
According to the National Multi Housing Council tabulations of the 2007 Current Population Survey, Annual Social and Economic Supplement, and US Census Bureau, there are 36,756,000 renters in the U.S.Â How many millions of renters will be exposed to this deadly neurotoxin unknowingly in their own residence?
When someone buys a home, how can they be sure that proper cleanup procedures were followed if one of these bulbs was broken by the previous owner?Â How can you assure us, congressmen, that this deadly neurotoxin is not lurking in hotel rooms where we choose to stay?
While Big Pharma, the FDA, and the CDC have put politics ahead of protecting the public, children have been contaminated for years with mercury-based preservatives (thimerosal) in vaccines, even though the results of a staggering number of studies linked thimerosal to speech delays, attention-deficit disorder, hyperactivity and autism.Â And you allowed it, congressmen.Â So it’s no surprise to me that you are not concerned that a toddler might ingest mercury left behind by a former tenant.
And where do you suppose all these toxic compact fluorescent light bulbs will be manufactured? The word “toxic” should give you a clue…in China, of course. Every single CFL light bulb manufactured today is manufactured in China. Not one bulb is manufactured in the U.S. Thanks, congressmen…just keep on finding more ways to force us to pay China to poison us. What’s the next product on your agenda, congressmen?
Hundreds of millions of CFL bulbs have already been sold…290 million were sold last year alone, and constitute 20% of the United States light bulb market today. Â According to the EPA, only 2% of CFL bulbs are being properly recycled.Â That still leaves hundreds of millions…coming to a landfill near you…all in the name of saving energy and the environment. Tell me, congressmen, how is contaminating the landfills, leading to the contamination of ground water and the air we breathe, with neurotoxins, really saving the environment? Hmmm?
Have you been using these fantastic energy-saving bulbs already? Have you broken one yet? If you did, did you follow all the EPA guidelines to protect your health?
Safety issues aside, what gives you the right, congressmen, to violate our constitutional right to choose which light bulb we wish to use?
Maybe we should start stocking up on incandescent bulbs for use after 2012! But if we get caught, will the light bulb police charge us with possession?Â Or with use of a controlled object? And, hmmm…will it be a misdemeanor, or a felony? Will they lock us up and throw away the key if we sell them underground?Â Just askin’…..
Please take the time to listen to Texas Congressman Ted Poe addressing the House on the CFL bulb. His presentation is only 5 minutes…he will even make you laugh…but he does an excellent job of making his point against this legislation.
Congressman Ted PoeÂ and 24 other congressmen have co-sponsored The Light Bulb Freedom of Choice Act (H.R. 5616), introduced by Minnesota Representative Michelle Bachmann,Â to repeal the phase out of incandescent light bulbs.Â We can only hope that more congressmen will come to their senses and approve The Light Bulb Freedom of Choice Act.
Thank you, Texas Congressman Ted Poe and all cosponsors for taking a stand for the health of “we the people”, and forÂ our constitutional right to choose.
Texas Congressman Ted Poe on the CFL Bulb
[[ Edited 7/13/2008 – After 5,274,666 views of the Ted Poe video above, it seems that it is “no longer available”, so here’s another link that is still working for now.
In closing, I have a question for Congress.
Question: How many toxic light bulbs will it take to “save” America, Congressmen?
I’m waiting, Congressmen…..how many?