New Lightbulb Labels and CFL News

Starting in mid-2011 you will notice new labeling on lightbulb packaging. The change is designed to help consumers choose among the different types of bulbs on the market.

For the first time, the label on the front of the package will emphasize the bulbs’ brightness as measured in lumens, rather than a measurement of watts. The new front-of-package labels also will include the estimated yearly energy cost for the particular type of bulb.

The back of each package of light bulbs will have a “Lighting Facts” label modeled after the “Nutrition Facts” label that is currently on food packages. The Lighting Facts label will provide information about: brightness; energy;the bulb’s life expectancy light appearance (for example, if the bulb provides “warm” or “cool” light); wattage (the amount of energy the bulb uses); and whether the bulb contains mercury.

 If you select a bulb with Mercury, do you know the proper steps to take if one breaks?

The EPA release updated guidance on how to properly clean up a broken CFL or Fluorescent Tube.

To minimize exposure to mercury vapor, the EPA recommends that residents follow the cleanup and disposal steps described below.

 *Before the cleanup, people and pets should leave the room, and windows and doors should be open. Any heating and air conditioning systems should be shut off.

 *During the cleanup, it’s important to be very careful when collecting broken glass and visible powder. The material gathered must then be placed in a sealable container. The EPA discourages using a vacuum.  If you must, they have detailed guidelines for that too.

 *After the cleanup, all bulb debris and materials used in the cleaning operation should be placed outdoors in trash containers or protected area until the materials can be disposed of properly. If practical, keep airing the room where the break-up took place for several hours and keep the heating or air conditioning shut off for the same length of time.

The guidelines may seem a bit over dramatic;  especially when considering findings from scientists at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory who say that “the most extreme C.F.L. breakage scenario” measured in a Maine study “only equaled the approximate exposure from a single meal of fish.”

The scientists—one a chemist, the other a physicist—found that, “if simple common sense is used in disposing of the broken CFL, the resulting exposure to mercury is equivalent to about 1/50th of an ounce—a single nibble—of Albacore tuna!”

So if you ate a whole six-ounce serving of Albacore tuna you would take in about 48 micrograms of mercury, 700 times the exposure from a typical CFL breakage scenario. (More)

Many believe that no unnecessary mercury exposure should be the aim of lightbulb manufacturers despite how insignificant studies make it sound. I am wondering how I ever survived breaking the mercury-filled thermometer when I was a child.

Once manufacturer, Clearlite has come up with a CFL that is covered in a flexible coating that acts as a bag to catch the glass and mercury if the bulb is broken.  The bulb is called ArmorLite and can be found online in 14 Watt bulbs (equal to 60W) with 800 lumens and a life of 10,000 hours.

2 Replies to “New Lightbulb Labels and CFL News”

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