“Climate Saving” CFLs Now Found To Emit Deadly Cancer-Causing Vapours

I don’t have a single one of these damn things in our house, and I’m glad. Now the German online DIE WELT has a report here called: Energy Saving Lights Emit Toxic Substances.

Hat-tip DirkH

It was already widely known that CFLs released deadly mercury, but only if they broke, see here for example, or here onwhat to do if one breaks. Now, according to the German television news show “Markt“, which will air tomorrow evening at 8:15 pm, CFLs also emit cancer-causing fumes during their operation, principally phenol, which is highly toxic even in small amounts.

DIE WELT reports that the NDR news magazine selected a random sampling of CFLs from various manufacturers and had them tested by an independent laboratory.

DIE WELT writes:

The official expert for lighting, Peter Braun, confirmed the magazine’s claims that substances can find there way in the air in a room. ‘Of special concern was that all lights that were tested emitted cancer-causing substances while they operated, and these happened to be the substances that occurred with the highest concentrations,’ Braun told the network.”

One manufacturer said they would look into it, while another said they know of no concentrations that are a threat to anyone.

Great! Now we are creating a global Love Canal to make believe we are rescuing the behavior of the atmosphere.

UPDATE: Further recommended reading: http://www.c3headlines.com/2011/04/time-to-sue-ge-mercury-laden-cfl-light-bulbs-discovered-to-emit-cancer-causing-fumes.html

24 responses to ““Climate Saving” CFLs Now Found To Emit Deadly Cancer-Causing Vapours”

  1. dave ward

    That would have to come from the electronic ballast – my guess is the capacitors.

  2. Ed Caryl

    The phenol comes from the phenolic circuit boards. There is also phenolic insulation in the sockets in some fixtures. But that’s present no matter the type of bulb. It’s not easy being green… and safe.

  3. John F. Hultquist

    Early in their introductory period I bought a couple of the ones that looked much line a normal bulb. At room temperature it takes about 4 minutes to come to its ultimate illumination. Then the local utility gave us some of the pig-tailed ones just after I bought a dozen from a major retailer. As the several outside lights, especially in and on our small hay barn, burned out I used the pig-tails as replacement. The barn lights are high and protected by an unbreakable cover. That cover helps retain heat and along with turning them on and off frequently they do not last as long as advertised. Then in the cold (below freezing) when I turn them on they are slow to come to full illumination. If I hurry I can feed six horses and turn the lights off before they are able to do what they were supposed to do. The solution to the multiple on/off issue and the cold induced slow-on – is to just turn them on and leave them that way.

    If they produce harmful chemicals, well those end up in the counties east of us, I suppose. I noticed yesterday one of the pig-tails has died. I’ll drag the ladder out and replace it with a regular bulb with a double-life rating. There are some new lights on the market or nearing late-stage development. When their costs drop from the stratosphere, I’ll try a few. Meanwhile, I have stockpiled a supply of old technology bulbs.

    As Ed Caryl says at 23:28 – It’s not easy being green …

    1. DirkH

      I got one in the kitchen and leave it on all the time… I hate it to go into the kitchen, get food out of the fridge and it looks like it’s from Mars because the CFL is still in its yellowish phase… Very energy-saving… 😛

  4. Jim Armstrong

    Mr Gosselin:
    I sure hope you’re joking. .. I mean pointing out the hypocrisy.

    Those ‘phenols’ emitted are indeed the same as from any electronic appliance. In fact, since the dawn of electronics. Old tube type radios and tv’s always had a distinctive smell when operating. From.. guess what – phenol resins outgassing! And I’ll pretty much guarantee there’s less from a house full of CFL’s than from one 1950 Grundig table radio.

    If you are alarmist about that, or even the ridiculous overblown Mercury dangers, then I misjudged you and/or your motives.

    I thought you were against this sort of silly alarmism

    1. DirkH

      Jim, i would think that the outgassing of these substances rises higher the hotter the electronics of the CFL get. A lot of sockets and lamps leave little or no space for ventilation; these are also the lamps where CFL’s die fast.

      Being a computer guy, i let my kitchen CFL dangle from the ceiling freely… It seems to last forever; it has no chance of becoming hot. But i fear normal people wouldn’t share my careless attitude and prefer a nice lamp around the CFL, restricting airflow and unknowingly increase the Phenol emissions. Plus, having to replace CFL’s more often, increasing the mercury load on the landfills or in the waste incinerators or in the recycling companies…

  5. Jim Armstrong

    PS Please look at the wiki for phenol
    Also known as Carbolic acid.
    Yes, hazardous and potentially deadly, pure or fumes from pure.
    Just like thousands of other chemicals used in manufacturing

  6. RCS

    Personally, I think the new light bulbs are a reflection of the EU. Dim, expensive and potentially toxic.

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  10. Ben D.

    For lights in hard to reach places, esp if bright light is not needed, look into LED light bulbs. They don’t generate the heat of CFL’s and draw a fraction of the power of a CFL… they can by a bit more expensive, but <$5 bulbs are there to be found

  11. Beano

    The trouble with alternate lighting systems is too many unplanned consequences.

    The optimum for eyes is yellow light dispersed in all directions. Only incandescent bulbs do this without expensive technology.

    Plus LEDS require a transformer, diode matrix and colour correcting arrangement. e.g. The transformers always seem to be those Chinese cheap ass ones which cause house fires.

    Notwithstanding the claims by manufacturers and other green do gooders there are always drawbacks

    Ever wonder why for years the French mandated yellow headlights for their automobiles? Blue Fluros were banned by the Scandinavians for a good reason.

    Here’s something else I find perplexing. Architects design bathrooms with two or three LED or halogen down lights above the mirror for lighting.
    Why don’t they simply ask a woman what lighting she requires in the bathroom? – yellow lights either side of the mirror so they can make up properly.

  12. DirkH

    Why not just lift the prohibition of incandescent light bulbs and let people decide what they want to buy. Oh, i forget, that would be free market thinking, something that certain people just can’t stand.

  13. zolqarnain

    More Nancy Pelosi / Obama administration VOODOO Science inacted into law. Unconstitutional as far as I am concerned. By the way, how do you like them there Chinese light bulbs? So much for Democrats accusing others for sending American jobs overseas!

  14. EricH

    When you can sketch out for me, even in principle, how the free market could optimize toward the solution of a problem like anthropogenic global warming (a problem with a 200 year inertia in time (changes -> their effects flowing through the system), then I will grant you that it is the best management technique for these kinds of issues.
    Now if you don’t believe in anthropogenic global warming, then first might I say that it’s because lots of people can’t do the math that the free market is not effective for this kind of thing, but secondly, let’s switch instead to deforestation and 100x background-rate species loss of our present age, again anthropogenic. Sketch how the free market could work effectively toward a solution to that problem.

    1. DirkH

      So we can agree that warmist = anti free market. Thanks for the confirmation.

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  17. GregO

    Here’s something to consider: CFL spontaneously exploding and burning:


    I’m removing all of them from my house.

  18. Peter

    If you want to save money on electricity, and have instant bright lights without danger to you and yours there is a range of LED lights. These can be bought in a wide range, of different spectrums from daylight to moonlight. They use very little power and are cheap to run. They last a long time. If broken or crushed down into landfill the present no problem

    Some people use CFL (Compact fluorescent light bulbs) basically they have been told that they save power and save the world, however because these contain deadly toxic mercury, then who will take the blame. As I stated to one politician. What does it take a sobbing woman holding two dead children in her arms?

    They say if one of these bulbs breaks in a sealed room it can kill or seriously effect health for the rest of your life. Also if a CFL light is in a desk light within a range up to 2 ft because of the high levels of UV (Ultra Violet) light rays it can cause skin cancer. The strobing in these lights and their very dimness can lead to migraine headaches and depression.

    With regards to mercury, 1 gram of mercury (That is about the third of the size of a strawberry) that small amount of mercury can pollute 4 MILLION litres of water. So you are not really saving the environment by using them, only putting your own life and health at risk.

    So even though the standard CFL only contains a very small amount of mercury, imagine what it would do if millions were crushed down into landfill and seeping down into a water table, river or stream how much damage it would do to the environment.


  19. James

    The biggest polluters BY FAR is the war-machinery. These light bulbs are just another diversion tactic. It keeps us talking while they pollute and devastate the planet.

    Thanks for the article. Appreciate the heads up.

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