Under the newly reinterpreted guidelines of the Clean Air Act, the EPA has now decided that no new coal plants will be authorized to be built, because of their normal emissions of mercury. It seems that there is some mercury inherent in coal and even after the exhaust scrubbers, it makes it into the environment. During the course of generating enough electricity to power, say, a new compact flourescent light bulb for its entire rated life, a coal plant will release 4 to 5 milligrams of mercury into the environment. This is of course assuming that it reaches its rated life of 6000 to 15000 hours.
There are some studies that suggest that a CFL puts out 51% less light than claimed, since it needs time to warm up to begin functioning at capacity, and that its overall lifespan is 85% shorter than claimed, since it is built to only start a limited number of times before the starter fails. X times number of starts and it’s done.
Why is that a big deal? It seems that each CFL contains between 4 to 5 milligrams of mercury. Which is a BIG deal if the bulb is broken. Because it turns into gas and can float around the house causing permanent subtle or not so subtle nerve damage to living beings there. So much of a problem that these are NOT supposed to be disposed of in the trash, not just that they might break there and still be in the house, but also that they would likely break in the local landfill and then leach into the local water.
Per the EPA, if one breaks in the house, you are to shut off the HVAC, open windows and doors, and then exit the house for several hours, taking children and pets with you. Cleaning requires NO vacuuming. Instead you are to blot it up with sticky tape and double bag the debris, ALONG WITH the clothes you were wearing and then turn both in to your nearest toxic waste facility. Which is where the dead bulb was supposed to be transported to for final disposal anyway. Wonder how many hours drive that is going to be for the citizens who live out in the rural areas?
Like that’s going to happen? Instead, this fiasco guarantees that most American households are going to have all of that mercury that has been saved by shutting down coal power plants, instead transferred directly into American homes where it will be periodically inadvertently released by well-meaning busy families going through their day without reading the fine print about what has been foisted on them as a substitute for the now illegal Edison bulbs. And if the actual bulb ratings are as flaky as some of the studies suggest, then it may be 3 to 4 times as toxic to Americans as just using the coal plants. Bet THAT won’t make it into the media.
The government is going to help us even if it kills us.