The Corner

Another Dud from the Dim-Bulb Greens

The incandescent light bulb ban is this decade’s version of the old 55 m.p.h. speed limit, and sooner or later Congress needs to be pressed into repealing this idiocy. Along with mailing in tea bags to members of Congress, we should send them our compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) for proper disposal in hazardous-waste landfills, since they contain mercury. An unsurprising irony of our time: We’re going to sock it to industry with new air-quality regulations to reduce airborne mercury, but we’re going to subject everyone to increased mercury risk in their homes by forcing them to use CFL bulbs. Have a look at EPA guidance for disposing CFLs and what to do if one breaks in your house.  

Well, perhaps we can all use light-emitting diode bulbs (LEDs) instead. Whoops: A new study out this week from the University of California concludes that LEDs contain lead and arsenic. The study found that low-intensity red LEDs (such as Christmas lights) contain eight times the legally allowed level of lead in California, and concludes that “low-intensity red LEDs exhibit significant cancer and noncancer potential due to the high content of arsenic and lead.” The researchers also tested larger LEDs such as car headlights and traffic lights, also finding high levels of toxic materials. Oh, goody. File this one in your “inconvenient truth” folder. Meanwhile, my basement these days is looking more and more like a dragon’s hoard of old-school light bulbs.

Steven F. Hayward is a visiting professor at the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley, and a fellow of the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington. He writes daily at Powerlineblog.com.

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