Compact fluorescents can cause cancer?

CFLI’ve written a number of articles about the shortfalls and risks of compact fluorescent light bulbs. These include that CFL’s are expensive and, unless you’re willing to spend beaucoup bucks, they won’t deliver the kind of higher wattage we’ve come to expect from incandescents. Another concern is that CFL’s contain mercury, a highly toxic substance in itself, and if a bulb breaks, this poses a real hazard.

Now a new report shows that the mercury in CFL’s pose a cancer risk. The new study shows that CFL bulbs emit high levels of ultraviolet radiation—specifically, UVC and UVA rays that are so strong they can burn skin and skin cells. Experts say the radiation could initiate cell death and cause a deadly form of skin cancer – melanoma.

There is a great deal more to learn about this issue, which you can discover in this article. Of real concern (along with the issue of cancer, of course) is that researchers who studied compact fluorescents discovered that their twisted spiral shape makes these bulbs more prone to cracks in the phosphor, which dramatically increases UV / mercury exposure. The researchers found cracks in almost all bulbs purchased from retail stores, indicating  these bulbs have a standard and dangerous design flaw.

Broken CFL'sAs I’ve said before, CFL’s are NOT the answer to our lighting problems. LED’s are definitely a safer and brighter alternative. BUT… manufacturers have still not found a way to price them at an affordable or reasonable price point so that more consumers can make the switch. Even what I consider one of the best new offering out there – the SWITCH LED, which is now available in retail stores – hasn’t lived up to the company’s promise to deliver a better solution at a reasonable price. This is a big disappointment that exacerbates the problem that consumers are now facing.

If CFL’s aren’t really safe nor produce bright enough light and LED’s are too expensive to meet consumer demands, what’s left?  What can consumers do to push the industry to get the prices down as quickly as possible without sacrificing quality?

It’s a conundrum that really has to be addressed – and soon. Otherwise we put ourselves at risk with breakage and mercury spills, no matter how “small”, and insufficient lighting in our homes. Neither are great choices.

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