The dangerous fraud behind the forced use of Compact Fluorescent Lights
There is a pervading and dangerously false assumption among the general public and public officials that the seemingly limitless advantages of high technology can somehow be isolated from the serious and significant biological hazards this abnormal technology is creating on the public’s health.
That economics, energy policies and even civil rights can supposedly operate independently of the adverse biological impacts produced by these commercial products. And that the constant, fraudulent “win-win” praises of high technology can somehow escape the universal laws and realities of “win-loss” that govern all other areas of life. With one of those major unreported, and completely unjustifiable, “losses” being a direct and increased risk for the development of multiple types of cancers.
One perfect, and as of yet legally unchallenged, example is the soon to begin banning of biologically inert, and safe, standard incandescent bulbs, to be replaced with multiple biologically hazardous Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFLs).
The banning of standard incandescent bulbs, along with the mass release of billions of CFLs into the market— passed as part of the 2007 energy bill and to officially begin in 2012— is not only fraudulent but outright hazardous to the public’s health. To pass such legislation required the knowing suppression of multiple health hazards surrounding CFL bulbs. And had these hazards been revealed, CFLs would never have been allowed into the market, and legislation would never have been passed to force standard incandescent bulbs out of it.
While equally fraudulent, is the general “accepted” assumption that CFLs allegedly use far less electrical energy than standard incandescent bulbs.
The reality is that CFLs take from 6 to 10 times more electrical energy to produce than standard incandescent bulbs— and electrical energy which is overwhelming supplied to CFL production facilities by coal-powered electrical plants, which add CO2 directly into the atmosphere increasing global warming conditions— undermining the very argument for the promotion of CFLs in the first place.
While adding to the over-hyped energy efficiency claim of a typical CFL bulb lasting 10 times that of a standard incandescent bulb, is that the claim is off by at least 80%.
This exaggerated and widely promoted energy efficiency “statistic” is based on the electronic circuitry hidden in the base of a CFL bulb operating at a “theoretical” steady and sustained 105º C, which does not happen while the CFL is in use.
The reality is that the electric circuitry within a CFL bulb operates at an average temperature of 130º C, or higher. And with every 10º C increase the bulb’s electrical
circuitry operates at, the efficiency of the bulb decreases by 50%.
This is because as the temperature in the CFL’s electric circuitry board rises, the circuitry’s weakest link fails and burns out— specifically, the electrolytic capacitor that holds the electrical charge. And when the electrolytic capacitor fails and burns out, it also renders the entire circuitry board useless for recycling— undermining an additional fraud concerning the alleged high recyclability of these bulbs.
Also, because the electrical circuitry hidden in the plastic base of CFL bulbs produces such high heat (130º C = 266º F), there is a risk of fires starting within these bulbs, which have already been reported in multiple and increasing anecdotal accounts, and which increase towards the “end life” of CFL bulbs, as the electrical circuitry, and the protection of that electrical circuitry, begins to break down.
To try and guard against electrical fires, the internal electrical circuitries of most of these bulbs are coated with PCB-like flame retardants, called polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE). Some produced CFLs cut costs and avoid coating the electrical circuitries with these chemical flame retardants, while those that do use them create further health hazards. PBDE compounds can be converted into their vapor state at temperatures as low as 30º to 40º C— far below the temperatures created when CFLs are in use— and diffuse out of the base of the bulb and enter the air near the user. And once inhaled, they act in a very similar manner to PCB compounds, which have long been associated with increased cancer and fetal deformity risks.
In general, and unreported to the public, Americans already have the highest concentration of PBDE derivatives in their cells and tissues than of any other population, with children having the highest concentration of the population. Resulting from the fact that these fire retardants have been used for decades in bedding, children’s wear, as well as on virtually all electronic circuitries, from computers to cell phones that heat up while in use.
Meanwhile, one of the most outrageous public relations frauds that has been widely disseminated to the public, without one word of protest from any quarter, has been the absolute fraudulent comparison of the mercury vapor contained in a CFL, to the mercury liquid contained in a thermometer. With the utterly false insinuation that when a CFL bulb breaks and releases highly toxic mercury vapor— which is immediately absorbable through the lungs— this is supposedly infinitely less dangerous than when a thermometer breaks and releases basically inert mercury liquid, which is not absorbed through the skin when touched during clean-up.
Aside from the many magnitudes of chance of breaking a light bulb over that of breaking a thermometer, mercury vapor is infinitely more biologically dangerous than mercury liquid. Once it enters the body, mercury has the ability to attack any cell it comes in contact with, because it disables a key protein transport molecule found on the membrane of all cells, and which particularly adversely impacts nerve cells, which is why mercury is often considered a “neurotoxin.”
When a CFL bulb breaks, it releases from 25,000 to 100,000 nanograms per meter cubed
of mercury vapor directly into the air of a room, dispersed from the floor to the ceiling.
And regardless of the diligence of the clean-up, a highly elevated level of mercury vapor
remains in that room for days to weeks afterwards— at levels far above the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) and the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) own safety warning of not exceeding an exposure of 300 nanograms per meter cubed.
In comparison, when a thermometer breaks and releases its virtually inert liquid mercury contents onto the floor, it is usually cleaned up within minutes. And any left over liquid mercury slowly evaporates to its vapor state at a rate of 17 to 34 nanograms per meter cubed per minute, under optimum conditions— calculated as the rate of evaporation of the total liquid mercury released from a small to a large thermometer. And this amount of mercury in its vapor state is released within inches of the liquid mercury— and not at foot or higher levels, where a person cleaning up the liquid mercury is likely to inhale any of it vapors.
By disingenuously comparing these two significantly different states of mercury, the public is not only being openly defrauded of accurate information, but its health is being openly placed in a state of reckless endangerment. And not one media outlet, and not one legal advocate group, has raised one concern about this fraud for years.
During the “clean-up” of a broken CFL bulb, the mercury vapor also cannot be contained by a plastic bag, as has been falsely stated for years by the EPA. Nor can it be contained in garbage containers lined with plastic, which is the common temporary storage container used by IKEA stores, which are the most recognized temporary recycling drop-off centers for these bulbs. These containers not only place IKEA workers entering these storage sites at completely unregulated risk of inhaling the tasteless and odorless mercury vapor that escapes when dozens of spent CFLs bulbs are tossed into these unregulated depository containers, but also place the health of IKEA customers at risk who pass by these CFL depository sites.
And this only touches on the health risks when a CFL bulb breaks and releases toxic mercury vapor, which the EPA and the CDC list as the third most toxic to human health on their respective toxic substance registries.
Meanwhile, before it ever breaks, a normally working CFL bulb is seriously harming its users in at least 3 significant ways— as a result of how these fluorescent bulbs normally function.
In the process needed to electrically excite mercury vapor contained within the bulb— to release UVC radiation to excite the phosphorous chemicals painted along the inside of the bulb’s glass casing to emit fluorescent light— 3 serious and well-documented health hazards are produced.
First, not all the UVC radiation— the most dangerous form of UV radiation to man or any other species on the planet— is contained within the glass of the bulb. It penetrates into the space outside it, rendering the user several feet away at increased risk for the
development of skin cancer, skin disorders, as well as a variety of eye disorders. This has
been openly documented by the British Health Protection Agency (the equivalent to the
USA EPA) since 2008, and ignored as supposedly significant ever since.
The British HPA also admitted that using CFL bulbs in desk or reading lamps should be limited to one hour a day, because of the UVC risk— which apparently should not concern the millions of citizens around the world who will be forced to use these bulbs for well over one hour a day while at work, as well as for additional hours every day at their residences.
While what is pointedly ignored, is that even one hour a day of UVC exposure
significantly increases one’s risk for skin cancer. Unmentioned is the fact that the earth’s
atmosphere completely blocks UVC radiation from reaching the earth’s surface— despite the fraudulent denials of this fact released by General Electric’s public relations sheet on the “lack of hazards” surrounding CFL bulbs. If it didn’t, all life would quickly cease to exist on the planet, because no species has ever developed a biological protection against this level of ultraviolet radiation.
This is one reason why UVC radiation is used in germicide bulbs to kill bacteria, in order to sterilize equipment— because bacteria, like human beings, never developed a defense mechanism against this highest level of ultraviolet radiation, which easily breaks DNA molecules as it passes through cells, creating the potential for cell mutations to follow.
Second, in the process of exciting mercury vapor to release UVC radiation, elevated levels of blue wavelength light radiation are also produced. This is in addition to the elevated levels of blue wavelength light radiation produced by the blue phosphorous coating along the inside of the bulb.
Virtually every CFL bulb has three colored phosphorous chemicals— red, green and blue— painted along the inner lining of the glass bulb, which when excited emit sharp, abnormal, spikes of their respective colored light radiation waves, which in unison give the “impression” of white or full spectrum light (light that contains all the colored wavelengths of light). And many CLF bulbs enhance the blue phosphorous component to achieve “brighter” light— falsely promoting this to the public as a supposed advantage.
By comparison, standard incandescent bulbs generate a graduated, blended spectrum of light, like sunlight, while being weighted in the red, orange and yellow colored wavelengths— the very colored wavelengths of light the human body has been acclimated to at night for about 500,000 years: starting with firelight, then moving onto kerosene and then gaslight.
And this distinction of the quality of the light emitted by these two types of light bulbs is extremely important. Because when the sun sets, blue wavelength light— which is one of the strongest components of the colored wavelengths of sunlight— virtually ceases to exist in the evening and night environment.
This crucial environmental influence has formed the backdrop for millions of years of
evolution, around which human (and all other species’) biology has designed its incredibly complex and important hormone release systems— a highly regulated and interconnected system of checks and balances that ultimately keeps the body alive by keeping it free of disease. And achieves this by being intimately dependent upon a predictable and changing “24-hour clock,” or circadian rhythm.
Not exposing our eyes to blue wavelength light at night is critical for sustaining the optimal operating capacity of the body’s immune system, which operates optimally at night when it is most effective in protecting the body from the development of mutated cells— the forerunners of cancer.
In addition to the immune system, all the body’s equally important circulating hormones are released according to precise, naturally derived, electromagnetic radiation cues the body receives from either sunlight or the earth’s 24-hour fluctuating magnetic field pattern, which determine the body’s 24-hour circadian rhythms.
For example, blue wavelength light in sunlight penetrates to the back of the eye and stimulates nerve cells in the retina to send nerve signals to the pineal gland area within the brain to adjust correct melatonin and serotonin hormone levels in the body.
High levels of blue wavelength during the day stimulate high levels of serotinin to be released from the brain, which affects a myriad of daytime hormone and metabolic functions in the body. Whereas at night, increasingly lower levels of blue wavelength light decrease serotonin production, and increase the production and release of melatonin from the pineal gland and into the body’s circulation, which peaks between 2:00am and 4:00am, and which is critical for sleep and the proper function of the immune system.
When the body is artificially exposed to high levels of blue wavelength light, which occurs when CFLs are used at night— when light bulbs are predominately used— the body’s output of melatonin decreases, because the brain is confused into believing that it is still under the influence of sunlight.
And abnormally decreasing melatonin levels at night can have significant impacts on human health.
Melatonin is responsible for neutralizing free radicals that build up in the cells of the body, which can damage cellular components up to and including the cell’s DNA. The hormone is also essential for the correct functioning of a variety of immune cell functions. And as expected, depressed melatonin levels have long been associated with increased risks for the development of multiple forms of cancers.
A recent 2003 Harvard University study showed that volunteers exposed to elevated levels of blue wavelength light, for six and a half hours at night— of similar magnitudes as released from CFL bulbs— had their circulating melatonin levels diminished by at least 50% throughout the night and up until the morning.
While a more recent 2010 study from the Lighting Research Center in New York and published in the International Journal of Endocrinology predictably showed that exposure to the predominately red wavelength light produced by standard incandescent bulbs does not depress melatonin levels at night.
In addition to the UVC and depressed melotonin hazards produced by normally working CFL bulbs, the nature of altering incoming 60Hz electricity inside the bulb required for a CFL to work— an alteration non-existent for the function of standard incandescent bulbs— has also been shown in multiple scientific studies to be significantly hazardous to a person’s health.
For the electronics hidden within the base of a CFL bulb to function, and for the circulating mercury vapor in the bulb’s glass container to be excited to start the sequence of chemical reactions to produce fluorescent light, incoming 60Hz house current must be digitally raised to 20,000Hz to 100,000Hz inside the CFL bulb.
These high frequency voltages are not only emitted directly from the bulb, but also back out through the wall wiring connected to the bulb. With measurements of their elevated emissions consistently registering well above safety levels. Documented and corroborated by multiple international studies, including those recorded by Swedish TCO- electromagnetic radiation probes— measurements used to protect Swedish workers— and considered to be the most sensitive and accurate electromagnetic radiation measurements in the world. Which have recorded emission levels from a wide variety of CFLs to be from 7 to 40 times above allowed Swedish TCO safety levels, for one bulb. With IIKEA brand CFLs registering the highest emissions.
In response to such findings, for example, the Swiss Federal Office of Energy and Public Safety (BFE and BAG), whose nation was the first European country to ban incandescent bulbs, have issued blatantly false public relations statements alleging that CFLs emit this biologically hazardous high frequency radiation “well below” TCO safety recommendations. While other government health agencies around the world, including the U.S. FDA and EPA, are making similar false public relations statements. And as a result are committing nothing short of criminal fraud, by suppressing the multiple health hazards produced by CFLs to encourage an unawares public to use these bulbs as an alleged contribution to environmental conservation.
Meanwhile, directly or indirectly, the high frequency electromagnetic radiation emissions from CFLs— which are far higher than those produced by regular tubular fluorescent bulbs, and as a result are more dangerous because CFLs are generally used much closer to the body than overhead tubular fluorescent lighting— are readably able of penetrating the body of those in the nearby proximity of these bulbs and causing significant adverse impacts on human biology, from the skin to the internal organs.
With one of the direct impacts being the depressed release of melatonin from the pineal gland in the brain, compounding its depressed released from elevated levels of blue wavelength light also being emitted from the bulbs.
Though being produced within the CFL bulb, these high frequency transient currents are transferred back out into the wall wiring to complete their circuitous route to the electric power source usually miles away, as is the nature of all electrical currents— all the while traveling, as all electricity or electromagnetic radiation travels, at the speed of light.
And because wall wiring used in all homes and businesses was only designed to carry 60Hz electrical current, these high voltage transients in the 20,000Hz to 100,000Hz range can overwhelm the 60Hz current carrying capacity of the wall wiring, and can subsequently be pushed off the wiring as they seek a path of least resistance to travel on— as is also the nature of all electrical currents. And that path of least resistance can temporarily become anyone grounded— with their feet (body) touching the floor— in any room that connects the wall wiring to the CFL bulb.
This occurs because all electromagnetic radiation (which is emitted from electric currents) is able to pass through virtually all manmade material: including plaster, wood, concrete, and steel. And when significant in magnitude, these high voltage transients can be pushed off the wall wiring, penetrate the wall and have the potential to enter anyone, or any animal, in contact with the floor of the room— who is subsequently “grounded.”
And as these completely abnormal currents travel in and out of the body at the speed of light, they can adversely impact the innate electric fields at the molecular level of any biochemical reactions in their path, which over time can seriously affect the human or animal biology of any tissue or organ system exposed to their impact.
The operating principles involved here have been known for decades, while being illegally ignored by the electrical companies and by the industries whose products produce these high transient currents. Coined “dirty electricity,” they now travel along the wall wiring that delivers electricity to virtually every home and business in the country.
Chronically pushing electrical currents (dirty electricity) off wall wiring and into the nearby “ground”— placing those “grounded” in its path in harms way— has also been clearly stated as being illegal by the U.S National Electrical Safety Code (NESC), for its specific adverse impact on human biology.
And these “dirty electricity” high voltage surges are not just created by CFLs, but by all high-tech electronic equipment, from computers to cell phone chargers, as a result of the internal electronics these products use to break up the incoming 60Hz current to produce higher currents to run their complex electrical circuitries.
And while “on paper,” digitally breaking up 60Hz current can be “argued” as a means of “saving energy,” what is being criminally ignored are the priority health risks associated with abnormally digitalizing electromagnetic radiation waves— which does not exist anywhere in nature, and which adversely impacts any living molecule subjected to them.
Multiple studies have clearly shown that both direct and indirect exposure to 20,000 to 100,000Hz— known as Very High Frequency (VHF) electromagnetic radiation— increases the risk for cancers, as well as variety of other serious and debilitating disease conditions. Not only do they create local abnormalities in the cells and tissues they travel through, but they also create a general depression of the body’s immune system, through chronic, low-level exposure.
And this is chronic, low-level exposure of the very same kind that the population will be exposed to by the criminally irresponsible removal of standard incandescent bulbs and their forced replacement with multiple biologically hazardous compact fluorescent lights.
Two well known and extremely highly regarded scientists who have performed multiple studies highlighting the biological hazards in this area include Professor Magda Havas in Ontario, Canada and Dr. Samuel Milham, out of Washington State— who also happens to be one of the most respected epidemiologist in the United State, and who has been studying the adverse impacts of a variety of manmade electromagnetic radiation sources on human health since the 1960s.
Among the many and extremely well-documented studies produced by Dr. Milham — and ignored by the FDA and EPA— include those that have revealed incredibly high increased risks of cancers among school teachers exposed to high levels of indirect “dirty electricity” through the wall wiring of their classrooms. The teachers studied were being chronically exposed to dirty electricity in the wall wiring produced from high levels of high-tech electronic equipment, such as computers, fax machines, copiers, etc. used in the school— the very type of high-tech electrical equipment that virtually every modern office is equipped with.
Being well aware of, yet choosing to criminally ignore, such widely available and documented evidence of the multiple and serious health hazards produced by CFLs, the U.S. government health regulatory agencies— which are mandated by law to protect the U.S. public by banning or strictly regulating biologically hazardous products— are breaking the law.
And the “CFL-use” law, passed as part of the Energy Security Act of 2007, has also broken the law, because it forces CFLs into the market by suppressing the public’s awareness of these multiple and serious adverse health effects. This not only constitutes fraud, but it also constitutes the knowing and condoned reckless endangerment of the U.S. public’s health, and should therefore also be considered a felony.
And not one legal group, and not one health group is stepping up to challenge the criminality of this legislation, despite it directly placing the public’s health at risk. In effect, forcibly taking away the public’s fundamental rights of self-preservation, by forcing unneeded health risks on the public that have the potential to severely impact their quality of life, up to and including the premature shortening of their life spans.
These well-documented health hazards surrounding the CFL issue should have already raised huge red flags among any legal society that presents itself as a guardian for the rights of citizens, whether those citizens live in this or in any other country in the world.
Meanwhile, further exposing the fraud behind the push for CFL bulbs for their alleged energy saving argument, the electrical energy used by electric lighting in general— an essential utility product— massively pales and is dwarfed by the mammoth electrical energy drain used to run, and particularly to produce, high-tech and mostly inessential commercial products.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy’s own studies, electrical energy used for lighting in both residential and commercial buildings has remained steady since 1980, at 18% (5% to 10% calculated in other studies). While miscellaneous electronic products, from computers to cell phone chargers to increased TV and game consoles and bundling services, had drawn 28%, or over 50% that used by essential lighting by 2005 (corroborated at 20% in other studies when compared to lighting drawing 5% to 10% of electrical energy use). And this inessential electrical drain is only projected to continue to increase, and double, that of essential lighting by 2015, while being admitted by the EPA to be in great part the result of the continued and forced premature obsolescence of electrical products by the respective industries involved.
While the accompanying massive electrical energy drain used to produce high-tech products is overwhelmingly provided by coal burning power plants, which emit CO2 directly into the atmosphere increasing global warming conditions. And which averages from 1,000 to 100,000 times the electrical energy used to produce conventional products made from plastics or metals— as a result of the extremely high electrical energy required for microchip production.
And unlike conventional products which are energy efficient to recycle, and which the U.S has increasingly abandoned for nearly exclusive high-tech development, high-tech products are grossly energy inefficient to recycle. For the simple reason that they draw virtually the same amount of electrical energy to recycle as they do to make the original product. Because the highest drain of energy in the production process is in the creation of the high-tech electrical circuitries— which are not recyclable, and which must continually be made from scratch.
A perfect example of this massive high-tech electrical energy drain can been seen in the average software manufacturing plant, which uses roughly 240,000 kilowatt hours of electricity daily to produce its overwhelming inessential electric circuitry boards used in cell phones, computers, wireless gadgetry and video games, etc. This massive, and increasing, expended electrical energy in one day of production is equivalent to the average daily energy use of 8,000 homes— according to the U.S. Department of Energy’s own statistics.
It is high-tech— and mostly inessential high-tech— products that are the real culprits of global warming, and not standard incandescent bulbs, which have been fraudulently labeled as a convenient scapegoat through a concerted, multi-million dollar government and corporate public relations effort.
Weighing in on this is the chief economist at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact
Research in Brussels and co-chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) of the United Nations, Ottmar Edenhofer, who considers the ban on standard incandescent bulbs— already under way in the European Union, despite growing public protest completely unreported in the United States— to be useless and totally ineffectual in its impact on global warming, and nothing short of blind and misplaced activism.
In effect, the ban on standard incandescent bulbs allows governments and corporations to perform the weakest and most ineffectual regulations that will have the least impact on their profits. All the while allowing them to avoid the actual source of the problem— the massive energy drain of unchecked high-tech electronic production, along with the accompanying massive CO2 emissions into the atmosphere resulting from electricity supplied to these facilities from virtually unfiltered coal burning power plants.
Additionally, by aggressively promoting the unchecked and unregulated mass production of high-tech products, the U.S. Congress is backing a house of cards economic policy that can only result in undermining the society, by systematically destroying the public’s health, both directly and indirectly. Yet at the same time, it has the gall to promote such a criminally irresponsible and virtually unregulated economic plan as a productive and sustainable path for the society to follow into the twenty-first century.
To put the absurdity and the reality of the fraud behind the push for CFLs in the simplest of perspectives, the most effective and safest way to reduce electrical energy from standard lighting is simply to reduce wattages as the night progresses. Promoting 60 watt over 100 and 75 watt usage during the day, and progressively switching over to 40 watt usage at night.
Not only would this save highly significant amounts of electrical energy, but it would also protect the public’s health— by protecting the body’s immune system by reducing the body’s exposure to elevated levels of light at night. This simple change in consumer behavior would increase the levels of the body’s circulating melatonin levels at night, and thereby help to reduce the risk of the development of cancers.
And, this would not only help to safeguard the public’s health, but it would also help to make a significant impact on reducing the country’s crippling multi-trillion dollar-a-year healthcare costs. Which are directly connected to the unchecked and unregulated saturation of continually increasing releases of biologically hazardous products, such as CFLs, into the market and into the ever nearer environment of the U.S. population.
In the final analysis, you cannot design an economy or release economic products into the market that knowingly destroy the public’s health, and label it a “sustainable” economic plan. And if you do, and if your basic priorities are so fundamentally distorted, you have a system of functioning government that is badly in need of immediate reform.
Gary Friedman 2/15/11
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