Replacement Bulbs

Everyone’s heard how toxic fluorescent bulbs can be. Well, now you can replace your fluorescent tube lights with LEDs. They’re bright, energy efficient, and they come in beautiful color tones ranging from warm to natural to cool white.

For most installations, you just plug in the LED tubes and, presto, gorgeous light.  In some cases, when you have very old ballasts, you have to do a little retrofitting, but they still support the LED tubes.  It’s easy to make the change following this instructional video



Former President Clinton partnered with Los Angeles officials on February 16th to announce the launch of the nation’s largest environmentally -friendly street lightbulb replacement program.  “Greening is the future of Los Angeles,” Clinton told a group of 100 invited guests at City Hall.

Los Angeles plans to spend $57 million to retrofit 140,000 streetlights with LED bulbs, a move that is expected to save the city $10 million a year in energy costs.  The program is financed with a $14 million rebate from the Department of Water and Power as part of its energy efficiency program and a $40 million loan from the agency. It will be paid back over seven years, at an interest rate of 5.25 percent.  With the current economic climate in California, we hope the city will follow through with the investment in the interest of recouping energy costs down the road. Clinton said the program was one of a number of things that Los Angeles and other cities should look to finance under President Barack Obama’s stimulus package, which includes millions for environmental programs. 

The Clinton Climate Initiative, former president’s charitable foundation, came to the city with the concept of replacing the energy-wasting lightbulbs with the more energy-efficient LEDs lights.  “This partnership is a tremendous example of how cities can cut costs, while also make a significant impact in the fight against climate change,” Clinton said.

City officials said the LED bulbs will result in savings because of reduced energy costs, while they will also last four to five times longer than the six-year life span of existing bulbs.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who is up for re-election March 3 and has been endorsed by Clinton, said the LED program is the latest in a series of efforts by his administration to help the environment by reducing the use of fossil fuels. Villaraigosa set a goal for 20 percent of Los Angeles’ power to be renewable by 2010 and 35 percent to be renewable by 2020.

“We are lighting the way to a greener L.A.,” Villaraigosa said. “This is the largest retrofit program of any city in the country”.

Under the program, scheduled to begin in June 2009, the Bureau of Street Services will begin replacing the bulbs in the two-thirds of the city’s 210,000 street signals that can be retrofitted.  It is expected to take five years to replace all the bulbs, starting with 20,000 the first year and 30,000 in each of the succeeding years.

$2,004.28 – that’s the cost of cleaning up a broken CFL for Brandy Bridges in Ellsworth, Maine.  Bridges had the misfortune of breaking a CFL in her daughter’s bedroom.  Aware that CFLs contain potentially hazardous substances, Bridges called her local Home Depot for advice. The store told her that the CFL contained mercury and that she should call the Poison Control hotline, which in turn directed her to the Maine Department of Environmental Protection.

CFL light

The EPA Guidelines for CFLs are:

      Before Clean-up: Ventilate the Room
1. Have people and pets leave the room, and don’t let anyone walk through the breakage area on their way out.
2. Open a window and leave the room for 15 minutes or more.
3. Shut off the central forced-air heating/air conditioning system, if you have one.
4. Carefully scoop up glass fragments and powder using stiff paper or cardboard and place them in a glass jar with metal lid (such as a canning jar) or in a sealed plastic bag.
5. Use sticky tape, such as duct tape, to pick up any remaining small glass fragments and powder.
6. Wipe the area clean with damp paper towels or disposable wet wipes and place them in the glass jar or plastic bag.
7. Do not use a vacuum or broom to clean up the broken bulb on hard surfaces.

      So what’s so dangerous about CFLs?  CFLs contain mercury, a potent neurotoxin, and are considered hazardous waste. They also contain EMF emitting units at the base of the bulb.

Bridges was told by the specialist not to clean up the bulb and mercury powder by herself. He recommended an Environmental Services specialist.  The specialist gave Bridges an estimate of  $2,004.28 to clean up the single broken CFL bulb.

Today, Bridges is “gathering finances” to pay the $2,000 for the cleaning herself. That won’t cover the cost for new carpeting and other items that will have to be replaced. Her insurance company said it wouldn’t cover the costs because mercury is considered a pollutant, like oil.  Bridges’ daughter’s bedroom remains sealed off with plastic today “to avoid any dust blowing around” and to keep the family’s pets from going in and out of the room.

Bridges is wondering why the DEP “publicly recanted the statement” it made to an area newspaper, in which DEP officials said it was safe to clean up the CFL bulbs using household materials.  

“I’m really upset. They should not change their story just because it does not fit into a good plan for these light bulbs,” said Bridges. “I’m trying my best to keep my family safe and the state just keeps trying to cover it up. 

It’s quite odd that environmentalists have embraced the CFL, which cannot now and will not in the foreseeable future be made without mercury. Given that there are about five billion light bulb sockets in North American households, the longer it is that we use CFLs, the more hazardous waste sites we’ll create in places like the Bridges’ bedroom.

LEDs are the better solution. They have NO Mercury and are safe for us and safe for the environment.  Go to Eaglelight or LEDinsider for the best selection and value in LED replacement lights.