Monday, July 7, 2008

Government logic: Those darn CFL Bulbs

I just love the logic of Maine State Government. The national one isn’t much different. There’s a front page story in today’s Portland Press Herald about steps that Ecomaine is taking to recycle those new CFL light bulbs we will be required to buy in the near future. Many, according to the report, which can be read on PressHerald.MaineToday.Com, have already been sold.

These new light bulbs contain mercury. There isn’t much in each light bulb, but the article says Mainers have bought millions in the last three years. That amount of mercury can add up. What confuses me logically is that in the year 2010 Mainers and Maine business have to reduce their mercury emissions from 35 to 25 pounds a year. And soon the only kind of light bulb to be sold has the potential of adding mercury emissions.

Of course a U.S. Congressman spoke before the House of Representatives a while back spoke on the House floor pointing out that every single CFL bulb sold in the world is made in China. He also outlined a rather significant process to be followed if one breaks in your house. We know how safe those Chinese products are and now we’re required to buy them. That’s required, not an option. At least it will be soon. (See my June 16th blog.)

In fairness to Ecomaine, which handles much of the home recycling pickups in our area, the newspaper article pointed out that the company has already reduced its emissions to that annual 25 pound limit; but, the article tells us, now that an even larger flood of the bulbs is expected in the recycling stream, the challenge to the company could grow.

Some stores have opened up recycling bins to for people to use to dispose of dead bulbs. I have seen such bins in a couple of stores at least around our area. But a major problem and a potential cost increase for the recycling company is the homeowner disposing the bulbs with the family waste. That’s another step in checking the waste when it gets to the company.

I’d be willing to bet a doughnut that most families will not change their habits of simply tossing dead bulbs into the family waste as they have the old iridescent bulbs. I’d also be surprised if most families even realize there is a potential mercury problem with the new bulbs.

I’ve also read reports of the new bulbs causing other physical problems with humans, such as causing headaches, because of the slight sound the bulbs emit. I have no direct knowledge of such problems nor do I have a link to which to point you for the facts. Nevertheless, the complaints are there.

There are times when I think government’s right hand and left hand have no clue what the other is doing. I’m talking actions here, not political stands. On the one side, we’re told that to save the environment we much conserve energy and using CFL bulbs is one step in that desire. On the other hand, we told that we have the potential of causing irreparable harm to the environment and the health of our people if we use those bulbs. Sure does make a lot of sense, doesn’t it?


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