Thursday, September 04, 2008

Who is promoting "Junk Science"

As you may be aware there is a lot of yammering on the anti-preservationist, burn-your-candle-at both-ends front that compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs contain deadly amounts of mercury that will kill you dead if you just drop one on the floor. (Funny how smashing fluorescent tubes, which contain vastly more amounts of mercury and argon gas, was normal activity in disposing them from the giant corporate boxes that said anti-preservationists seem to favor. I know this because that's what I was told to do while working many years ago in one of those buildings as a general dog's body.)

In any case, I was drowsily watching How Its Made on the Discovery Chanel last night, and perked up when they stated, point blank while showing how incandescent bulbs were made, that the filaments were coated with mercury, and (I can't verify this) mercury and argon gas were pumped into the bulbs.

Now, I'm only conjecturing here, but it seems that incandescent bulbs need some sort of gas to interact with in their vacuum in order to glow bright. If it is just tungsten and electricity, all you get are those old-fashioned bulbs where the filament glowed a pretty orange and you don't get much light.

So, does anyone know if How Its Made is accurate? Do incandescent bulbs also contain mercury?

If they do, could someone put the "evil CFL bulb" meme to bed? Better yet, how about we ditch all those bulbs and develop super-affordable LED lights? Right now, LED bulbs are far too expensive to be a feasible replacement for an 19th century technology like the incandescent bulb. Then again, the LED light has a very long life-span. That does not bode well for manufacturers that enjoy rapid turn-over in product. Typically a cheap incandescent light is probably about 25 cents a bulb these days (excuse me if it is more, but I haven't bought one in ages.) A buck fifty every month, however, adds up over time. Especially when you have a sizable population buying them.

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