I am always banging on about how unpleasant CFLs are for electro-sensitives because of the electromagnetic fields that their flickering create, but that is nothing compared to the damage that their mercury content can do if they get broken.
If you really want to scare the life out of yourself, read this salutary newsletter/training sheet from the Salisbury Fire Department in Maryland, US of A……
What is particularly scary about this scenario is that so few people are genuinely aware of the dangers – including recycling centres. I am sure I am not the only one whose recycling centre happily mixes incandescent, halogen, flourescent and compact fluorescent bulbs in the ‘bulb recycling bin’. What then happens to all those bulbs? Are they sorted and the CFLs disposed of safely according to the extremely complex guidelines?…. I very much doubt it. Far more likely, as Andrew Goldsworthy suggests, that they are all going into landfill. (See ‘All you need to known about low energy lighting.’)
And just in case you think that it doesn’t matter and that you will just go out and buy some old fashioned bulbs – think again. 100 watt and 60 watt bulbs are no longer on sale and 40 watt and 25 watt are to be banned from sale as from September this year in the UK – under a regulation that has not even been voted on by the EU parliament! In the rest of Europe there is an exemption for those who, for health reasons, need to use incandescent bulbs but this exemption will not apply in the UK.
For those of us who are electrosensitive, the problem has been largely solved by the very much wider use of halogen and LED bulbs neither of which create mini electromagnetic fields around them, as do the CFLs. But that is not the case for the around two million people in the UK who suffer from other light sensitivity issues (such as lupus, migraine, ME, xeroderma pigmentosum, autistic spectrum conditions, light exacerbated eczema, epilepsy or vertiligo). These people are not only affected by CFLs but by the blue light emitted by the other forms of low energy bulbs so for them it is incandescent bulbs, candles or darkness outside the hours of daylight, making any form of normal existence without incandescent bulbs more or less impossible.
The Spectrum Alliance is a totally voluntary pressure group formed after the ban on incandescent bulbs was first announced in 2007 to lobby the government and anyone else who will listen to retain access to incandescent bulbs for those who are light sensitive. So far their efforts, including an Early Day Motion in June last year, have fallen on deaf ears – which is all the more reason to support them now.
The Alliance is currently circulating a questionnaire among light sensitives to try to get more information about how low energy lighting impacts on their lives. (Mine came through ES-UK but, if this applies to you, I am sure that you can get a copy either via ES-UK or the Alliance itself.) They want more information not only for general purposes but to provide Sheila Gilmore MP, who has taken up the Alliance’s cause, with more case histories and ammunition in her attempts to get the total ban on incandescent bulbs lifted.
NB Electrosensitives who want to try LED bulbs can now get them from main branches of Ryness and from a whole raft on on line stores. A number of IKEA desk and bedside lights come with them already fitted. They are expensive but they do last for a prodigious amount of hours and, the light that they emit is now much softer and yellow/pinkier than in the first bulbs and so much closer to an incandescent bulb.