Can we have our regular old light bulbs back now?

Great, just great. Don’t get me wrong, I like the LED bulbs, I have several in my house. But when we get back to basics, a tungsten light bulb doesn’t require a haz-mat squad to dispose of. It’s glass, ceramic, tungsten, some thin steel, and tin solder (if ROHS). CFL bulbs and now LED bulbs are so much more eco unfriendly and when they inevitably end up in landfills, they become a source of heavy metal. We may have gained short term energy efficiency, but the long term payback may not be worth it.

LED products billed as eco-friendly contain toxic metals, study finds

UC researchers tested holiday bulbs, traffic lights and car beams

From UC Irvine:

Those light-emitting diodes marketed as safe, environmentally preferable alternatives to traditional lightbulbs actually contain lead, arsenic and a dozen other potentially hazardous substances, according to newly published research.

“LEDs are touted as the next generation of lighting. But as we try to find better products that do not deplete energy resources or contribute to global warming, we have to be vigilant about the toxicity hazards of those marketed as replacements,” said Oladele Ogunseitan, chair of UC Irvine’s Department of Population Health & Disease Prevention.

He and fellow scientists at UCI and UC Davis crunched, leached and measured the tiny, multicolored lightbulbs sold in Christmas strands; red, yellow and green traffic lights; and automobile headlights and brake lights. Their findings? Low-intensity red lights contained up to eight times the amount of lead allowed under California law, but in general, high-intensity, brighter bulbs had more contaminants than lower ones. White bulbs copntained the least lead, but had high levels of nickel.

“We find the low-intensity red LEDs exhibit significant cancer and noncancer potentials due to the high content of arsenic and lead,” the team wrote in the January 2011 issue of Environmental Science & Technology, referring to the holiday lights. Results from the larger lighting products will be published later, but according to Ogunseitan, “it’s more of the same.”

Lead, arsenic and many additional metals discovered in the bulbs or their related parts have been linked in hundreds of studies to different cancers, neurological damage, kidney disease, hypertension, skin rashes and other illnesses. The copper used in some LEDs also poses an ecological threat to fish, rivers and lakes.

Ogunseitan said that breaking a single light and breathing fumes would not automatically cause cancer, but could be a tipping point on top of chronic exposure to another carcinogen. And – noting that lead tastes sweet – he warned that small children could be harmed if they mistake the bright lights for candy.

Risks are present in all parts of the lights and at every stage during production, use and disposal, the study found. Consumers, manufacturers and first responders to accident scenes ought to be aware of this, Ogunseitan said. When bulbs break at home, residents should sweep them up with a special broom while wearing gloves and a mask, he advised. Crews dispatched to clean up car crashes or broken traffic fixtures should don protective gear and handle the material as hazardous waste. Currently, LEDs are not classified as toxic and are disposed of in regular landfills. Ogunseitan has forwarded the study results to California and federal health regulators.

He cites LEDs as a perfect example of the need to mandate product replacement testing. The diodes are widely hailed as safer than compact fluorescent bulbs, which contain dangerous mercury. But, he said, they weren’t properly tested for potential environmental health impacts before being marketed as the preferred alternative to inefficient incandescent bulbs, now being phased out under California law. A long-planned state regulation originally set to take effect Jan. 1 would have required advance testing of such replacement products. But it was opposed by industry groups, a less stringent version was substituted, and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger placed the law on hold days before he left office.

“I’m frustrated, but the work continues,” said Ogunseitan, a member of the state Department of Toxic Substances Control’s Green Ribbon Science Panel. He said makers of LEDs and other items could easily reduce chemical concentrations or redesign them with truly safer materials. “Every day we don’t have a law that says you cannot replace an unsafe product with another unsafe product, we’re putting people’s lives at risk,” he said. “And it’s a preventable risk.”

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179 thoughts on “Can we have our regular old light bulbs back now?

  1. The CFL got it’s foothold due to the payment proffered from an Energy Bill.
    The payment was government sanction and subsidy for GE, Sylvania and Westinghouse to move production to China.
    The CFL is actually worse as a household item, because the consumer generally does not read the warning about Mercury if the light is fractured/broken, and the force used in hand-threading such bulbs in the socket is sufficient to cause failure.
    Accident looking for a place to happen: Meet contamination looking for a place to happen…your home.

  2. The “scientists” forgot to tell us how many red LEDs we would have to chew thoroughly and swallow in order to get sick from lead poisoning. Sounds like more horse processed hay for the mushrooms to me.

  3. In Minnesota, those incandescent light bulbs are better thought of as “heat balls”. Rather efficient heating mechanisms in winter, they are. Goodness knows environmentalists aren’t considering the heating efficiency offered by the ol’ bulbs.

  4. And people wonder why I still drive vehicles with glass headlights. “New” tech is really starting to stink.

  5. ….ok. Sure. You take 100 Ibuprofen tablets too and thats’s toxic. The printed circuit boards inside LED bulbs can contain all that stuff….in trace amounts…. You going t0 eat a tablespoon of LEDs?

  6. Wait. What?

    Except for the anode and cathode, the guts of an LED are encased in a thick layer of plastic.

    Ogunseitan said that breaking a single light and breathing fumes would not automatically cause cancer, but could be a tipping point on top of chronic exposure to another carcinogen. And – noting that lead tastes sweet – he warned that small children could be harmed if they mistake the bright lights for candy.

    What fumes?! Are they confusing LEDs with CFLs?

  7. When it is said of mercury and lead that they are neurotoxins, this is not environmentalist hyperbole. And keep in mind that these neurotoxins would be in their vaporized form, in your home, in lights that were manufactured most likely in China. Many of these bulbs have already been known to spontaneously break, leak, or catch fire. Fire departments are also learning not to overlook these CFLs in homes:

    “A CFL bulb contains a ballast at the base of the unit between the spiral tube and (Edison) screw. This ballast, encased in a plastic shell, may or may not have visible vent holes or slots.
    The ballast contains a Voltage Dependent Resister that, when failure occurs, opens like a fuse to protect the device and associated electrical equipment. The resultant heat and smoke should escape from the vents in the housing. Light smoke may be visible and one will smell that distinct electrical ballast odor. As in the case the other night, there were visible smoke marks and a small, brown oily/gooey residue at the vent holes. These signs were not visible with the bulb in its socket.

  8. Should try living in the UK, the good old EU banned them ages ago and now we have the dim bulbs the dim-witted EU say we should use, but hey watch this space when one breaks and a haz mat team has to come in to remove the mercury.

  9. Teaching my kids about the history of music and the composers, we have been struck by how many of these musical genius’ lost their battle with depression. I have wondered if this is because of the use of lead as a sweetener for cheap wine. Granted, nobody made any money except Rossini and they were all in debt, but something was tipping all of these great artists into a black depression.

    Whether that is the case or not, the damage to the central nervous system and the depression caused by these two metals, mercury and lead, are to be taken seriously.
    I personally think it could lead to a great devaluing of homes, as the leaks and spills mount, and no one will want to take chances on bringing their tiny babies in a home potentially contaminated by these dangerous elements.

  10. Even though by now everyone who is well informed knows that global warming is a hoax, it still makes good sense to try and preserve energyy. Namely, it costs money to make energy. The fluorscent type lights that I use do not really break down very often ad save at least 75% in energy. They just burn and burn, foreever it seems. I am in LA at the moment. Visiting from South Africa. I am puzzled that I don’t see more solar water heating (with a solar geyser). This is stupid. You can save 40% of your electricity bill just letting the sun heat your water for the geyser. Due to to a shortage of power , our (state funded) electricity company in South Africa is giving a subsidy for every installation built. This is an idea that must be implemented worldwide, as it is a good way to spend government subsidies instead of wasting it on “climate research”.

  11. Does anyone know if halogen bulbs are a decent compromise? I’m using a few and they look like incandescents, don’t need five minutes of warming up and work in fittings on dimmer switches. There’s no electronic ballast on them and they use about half the power of an incandescent. They’re more expensive of course but since the Australian government has banned incandescents, including if you call them heat globes apparently, they seem to be the best option if you’ve got some dimmer switches. But I do wonder if they have downsides of their own.

  12. Part of the problem is that the information is presented out of context. That is we really aren’t told the relative toxic level compared to the other products. One also has to factor in the lifespan of the product too.

    A standard light bulb has a life of around 750 to 1250 hours depending on the bulb.
    Assume 1,000 as the average. A CFL is rated at 10,000; however this assumes you never turn of the light. Repeated On/Off cycling will shorten the life of the CFL, but I’ve never seen any numbers on exactly how much life it would be under normal use. LED Lights don’t have a catastrophic failure, like the first two lights, so the L70 Standard applies. When the light falls to 70% of the initial light output, the life of the LED is considered ended. LED Lights have a life of around 35,000 to 50,000 hours. Also, LED lights can be turned on and off rapidly with out any problems of a shorter life.

    Thus, an LED light would have the life of 35 to 50 regular light bulbs and 3.5 to 5 CFL bulbs. One would need to factor how much toxic material in one LED compared to 3.5 to 5 CFL compared to 35 to 50 regular light bulbs. I thought that regular light bulbs used lead at the base of the bulb. … or has this been changed to lead free solder?

  13. In Oz we can’t buy old bulbs anymore, you can’t sell a house without an environmental rating which includes having eco lights, the new ones are dear, dim, and don’t last as long. What a great idea! What can we do next!

  14. Henry, we do not have a shortage of any energy! Why are electricity prices so high? Simply to create profits for shareholders. There is no shortage of energy and we have absolutely no need to conserve energy apart from to save our our personal bank accounts from the rape by greedy energy companies.

    I do not buy into your argument as it is flawed beyond belief.

    We have pensioners in the UK that can now only afford to heat one room due to the huge increases in energy prices, another 5% added in december 2010, which was the coldest December in record.

    Energy poverty is artificially created by the very same companies who spout that they are spending x amount on new green techs, ahem, they use this as a false flag to justify the raises in electricity prices.

    Centrica, a French Company that owns British Gas has reported this:

    Key Fundamentals Financials – Interim (28/7/2010)
    Turnover £m 11,707
    Pre-tax Profit £m 2,004
    EPS p 25.78
    DPS p 9.14

    Now, do they look like they have to raise prices by 5-8%?

  15. I think I like the opening line best:

    Those light-emitting diodes marketed as safe, environmentally preferable alternatives to traditional lightbulbs actually contain lead, arsenic and a dozen other potentially hazardous substances, according to newly published research.

    Didn’t they frakkin’ well know what was in these things when they built them? Is there a “black box” factory out there that makes light bulbs, but nobody knew what went into them until somebody did research? They’ve discovered, through “research,” that there’s lead in these things. Now how the hell did it get there? Do you think they’ll discover that lightbulbs also contain glass? Who knew?

    Those oak tables common in so many households actually contain wood according to new research.

    “We had no idea,” says carpenter John Smith who makes oak tables for a living. “We just use this here tree flesh stuff to make them. Nobody told us there was any wood in it.”

    Seriously. This is so stupid I don’t even know who to be mad at.

  16. I like CFLs because they consume less energy – full stop. I had to shop around for bulbs that had good initial luminosity and they have performed satisfactorily. In places where I need instant brightness I stick to the good old incandescent bulbs – conservation be darned.

    As for the Christmas lights, I avoid LEDs like the plague. They don’t have that warm look to them… likely because they aren’t warm. Who (besides Suzuki) wants to see cold lights on a cold night?

  17. I hate CFLs and have stocked up on incandescants. My hunch is that true Americans are going to rebel over this nonsense about “banning” anything. Free choice and education as to hazards and efficiency is what is appropriate — and American. But what’s up with this UC Irvine research after the fact? Following your example, Anthony, I just changed out a number of lights for CREE LEDs. The light is absolutely beautiful. I’m planning to live with it.

  18. What is less known is that the “treasury of electronic circuitry” in CFLs generate radio frequency interference. Because of this they interfere with some remote control devices and with radio, especially AM. It could potentially interfere also with wireless systems such as alarms.

    source
    a typical smoking comment
    X-10 interference comment

  19. Here in Australia, former land of the free, we are forced to use these toxic mercury light globes by law. Many of us, it is likely, will suffer a similar fate to the composer Beethoven who died of lead poisoning. :-(

  20. Henry@Calvi36

    So if you are worried about making the energy companies rich, why not put up your own solar geysers? England perhaps not so much, is that where you live? (because they do not have that much sunshine) but the question I asked: why have I not seen any here (in LA). Sunny California. I am puzzled about that.

  21. Angry Exile says:
    February 10, 2011 at 9:10 pm

    Halogen bulbs are a type of incandescent light. They are designed so that the filament runs at a hotter temperature, thus emitting more light in the visible spectrum. Thus halogens are somewhat more efficient than your conventional incandescent bulb, but still not nearly as efficient as a CFL or LED type lamp.

  22. Henry, I live in Scotland where the rain falls horizintally! Yet they still put up solar panels so that they can hopefully capture the power of the sun 3 months out of nine!. They are also blotting our amazing landscape with wind turbines (that all run on duracell batteries, family joke!). Seriously the cost of renewables far outweighs the benefit gained from those power sources. In my country, why not build more hydro-electric dams, god knows we have enough water!

  23. Prediction:
    LED and CFL manufacturers will be stuck for the costs of landfill cleanup, and will have to excavate their sites as superfund sites. That way, the government has a built in cash cow (slush fund) for decades to come. By then, the global warming hysteria will be forgotten, but “CFLs are forever”! Then Henry “Nasaltov” Waxman and his ambulance chasing lawyer buddies can clean up on lawsuits for whatever ailment is in vogue that year, which “experts” will claim is caused by the heavy metal pollution that they have themselves wrought.

    Brilliant! (pun intended)

  24. Yes, bring back the tungsten filament please!

    But (and it’s not often I argue the contrary view here), the official list of known can-causing chemicals is fewer than 30 long. Last month I reviewed cancer chemicals in a note on PCs, but much of that I wrote is relevant to this thread.

    http://www.geoffstuff.com/PCBs%20and%20cancer.doc

    In particular the story of trace lead is still open – it’s a bit like Global Warming with a small group of scientists who have proposed alternatives to the hugely-funded Establishment view. I’m content to go on record as saying that a child who eats an offending LED light is in no danger from the lead therein. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1440-1754.1997.tb00984.x/abstract

    There are plenty of people who beat up the cancer dangers of man-made chemicals. They should reserve their writings until they have proof of both mechanism and dose.

    BTW, it might be interesting to hear what Jeff Id says about LEDs.

  25. H.R.6144 – Better Use of Light Bulbs Act
    Repeals the part of the the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 which bans incandescent lights.

    I don’t know if the GE plants for those already closed. But then you just buy stock in the little companies still producing light bulbs here in the US. :-)

  26. When I was a kid, we had a lead weight that was used as a door-closer. One day I lit a fire in the back yard, and got the lead weight and an old saucepan, and melted it. My younger sisters joined in. I still wonder if it had any effect on us.

    Of course the new flourescent globes contain mercury, just like the older flourescent tubes do. I understand that some greenie, hippy, weirdo somewhere did a calculation comparing cfls to incandescent lights. He found that when you took into account the mercury released by the coal burnt to power the globes, that incandescents were responsible for the release of more mercury than cfls. But being some greenie, weirdo, anti-life, commie, he would say that.

    Back to lead, and in towns in Australia near mines, the blood lead levels in children there tends to be high. The mining companies advise that you just need to keep the lead dust out of your house, and you’ll be fine. A couple of years ago thousands of birds near Esperance in Western Australia died. It was caused by lead dust leaking from a train taking lead to the port at Esperance.

  27. I still think LEDs are the way to go. There are still problems such as cost, spectrum and design for recyclability. However companies are working to reduce the already small environmental impact such as –

    http://www.bluglass.com.au/pages/about/about_the_company.html

    CFL globes however are a total disaster. The level of toxins, the pathetic performance and the recycling difficulties make the problems with LEDs pale into insignificance. The forced introduction of the twisty globes of eyestrain and toxic doom can be seen as indicative of all government mandated green solutions. The cure is worse than the aliment. Dim bulbs full of mercury, wind turbines blending birds and bio fuels starving nations. Truly the age of stupid.

  28. Henry@Calvi36
    All I said was that I have noted a 40% decline in energy consumption after installing a solar geyser. But, yes, you must have regular sunshine> that is the whole point. But where I live we have much of that. \ Hydro power is a good idea. I think Willis had a simple one built on his plot somewhere. I vaguely remember he had a drawn plan for that project on WUWT. So if you have a river at the back of your yard, look up that plan of his again , here on WUWT.

  29. I recently did a study of the change in my pocket, and was astonished to learn that many of the coins were contaminated with high concentrations of copper and nickel, both of which we know are toxic.

    In the interest of the environment, and because of my great love for humanity, I am willing to put my life at risk to properly dispose of all of this harmful copper and nickel before you begin to suffer from it’s effects. Please send me….

    I was also shocked to learn that a typical red gallium arsenide LED contains arsenic! Who woulda thunk? /sarc.

    Seriously, this report could be summed up in one word: Drivel.

    The lens on an LED is typically made of epoxy. The metal frame and reflector will be a copper alloy just like the metal frame that supports the die on any other electronic component. It will be tin plated, and will almost certainly be RoHS compliant if it has been manufactured recently, which means that it contains no lead. The die in the LED (which emits the light) is encased in epoxy and is about the size of a grain of sand. It’s a semiconductor and it has been doped with trace amounts of some exotic elements to make it emit colored light. So what?

    I can assure you that in electronic manufacturing plants safety is a prime consideration, and yet there are no special safety precautions for handling LEDs. They are benign.

    However, I will try to remember to refrain from chewing the LEDs next time I eat a handful. /sarc

  30. Curmudgeon Geographer says:
    February 10, 2011 at 8:35 pm

    “In Minnesota, those incandescent light bulbs are better thought of as “heat balls”. Rather efficient heating mechanisms in winter, they are. Goodness knows environmentalists aren’t considering the heating efficiency offered by the ol’ bulbs.”

    Hi Curmudge !!!

    Maybe you could turn off all your heating and park your family around a 60 watt Osram tonight.

    Let us know how you go.

  31. Anyone who has ever worked under a car with the old work lights knows that at least once during the fix, your bulb will break or burn out. That was with the old style lights. Clean up.. sweep, toss and get back to work. Now? Hazmat suit, gloves, mask, glass jar and at least 30 mins to let the dust settle.. gee that is so much better.

    That said I’ve been using the cfl’s since they came out, and before there were warnings about their breakage. Im probably already poisoned but that aside, I liked them because in certain lamps they last a very very long time but .. I still had my old light bulbs for more rough and tumble work. I hate it when the gov picks a winner, it stifles any new innovation.

    Things I miss, glass jars, paper bags and now regular old light bulbs. All casualties of the use this instead, it’s so much greener movement. So now we have landfills and oceans with plastic and environmental hazards for houses.. Gee thanks thats so much better.

  32. the energy consumption to produce 1 regular bulb is 6x that of a LED. Landfills are lined. How many LED do actually break per year per household? I do not see the problem.

  33. Henry, I have a river next to me, hell it is even tidal a cpl of miles further downstream but I don’t think the nanny state would allow me to erect tidal barriers to draw power let alone a hydro electric dam.

    The crux is this, I do not want to live in a nanny state where they tell me what light bulbs I can and cannot use, what kind of fuel I must use in my car nor how many times I am permitted to fart per day without fear of a fine!

    I am actually capable of making decisions for myself in all areas of life. I am actually pro environment, not against it at all as most deniers are. BTW I deny the catholic faith that was drummed into me as a kid by those that “knew what was good for me”.

    Some of us on here have way more life experience than those do-badders in power.

    Rant over.

  34. And we all were told the story of Edison’s persistence in experimenting for a year and a half until he tried a carbonized filament and produced the electric light bulb.

    But Nikola Tesla made his version of the incandescent light in just a couple of weeks, in time for the Chicago Fair. Edison had spitefully forbidden him to use his design so Tesla quickly made a bulb that did not infringe on Edison’s patent. And neatly in the same exposition, Nikola Tesla introduced the Alternating Current Power Plant with twelve 1000 horse-power two-phase generators and lit the world.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World's_Columbian_Exposition#Electricity_at_the_fair

  35. Ogunseitan said that breaking a single light and breathing fumes would not automatically cause cancer, but could be a tipping point on top of chronic exposure to another carcinogen. And – noting that lead tastes sweet – he warned that small children could be harmed if they mistake the bright lights for candy.
    ———-
    Utter rubbish! And I have nothing against incandescent globes.

    Some LEDs are well known to contain arsenic. There is no substitute. This article has failed to assess the impact of this, taking into account the amounts involved.

    The other components, nickel, copper, lead etc.. are standard in electronics. Thus includes incandescent globes.

    The article originates from an attention-seeking neurotoxic chemophobe. The “little kiddies will eat LEDs because they taste like sweeties” is beyond absurd.

  36. Here in the UK you can still buy tungsten filament bulbs but they are now halogen bulbs which are 25% more efficient. They work fine. The only trouble is the life seems to be much less than the old bulbs.

    I use halogens but mostly GE spiral CFLs. The latest CFLs start up quickly enough and the quality of the light is fine. I really can’t see anything wrong with them. I’m happy to have a lower electricity bill. The CFLs from 3 or more years ago were terrible so it’s no wonder they got a bad name. They took several minutes to get to full brightness and the light color was horrible. I have no use for LEDs but coming eventually will be OLED panels which are 100% efficient (not heat at all).

  37. Ken Stewart says:
    February 10, 2011 at 9:12 pm
    In Oz we can’t buy old bulbs anymore, you can’t sell a house without an environmental rating which includes having eco lights, the new ones are dear, dim, and don’t last as long. What a great idea! What can we do next!
    ———-
    Buy the high efficiency incandescents instead. 30% better.

  38. Calvi36 says:
    February 10, 2011 at 9:13 pm
    Henry, we do not have a shortage of any energy! Why are electricity prices so high? Simply to create profits for shareholders. There is no shortage of energy and we have absolutely no need to conserve energy apart from to save our our personal bank accounts from the rape by greedy energy companies.
    ———–
    Get a clue and look at the balance sheet of an energy company. Somehow you are forgetting that energy does not grow on trees; it needs to pay for fuel, labour, plant capital costs etc. Energy companies are not hugely profitable.

    And you are also fogetting the profits pay for your superannuation.

  39. Beth Cooper says:
    February 10, 2011 at 9:34 pm
    Here in Australia, former land of the free, we are forced to use these toxic mercury light globes by law. Many of us, it is likely, will suffer a similar fate to the composer Beethoven who died of lead poisoning. :-(
    ————
    Let me guess: your kitchen has had fluorescent tubes in it since the 1950’s. The only difference between these and CFLs is the size.

    So you have been whining about fluorescent tubes all that time? I don’t think so.

  40. Bring back those old big wooden cased radios or carriage and horses because the disposal was so much more environmentally friendly.

    The argument here is clouded by those eco zeolots who love nothing better than to force others to tale action on their behalf (how many homes do you have Al).

    Sure we would still be buying and using incandescents but if you just give me the option on cutting my lighting bill by half less extra investment up front I like most people will take it.
    And just like the plastic radio cases of today the product is more complex and has more complex disposal issues but that is unfortuneately the price we pay for being clever clogs. Bring on LED bulbs and less power stations, just wish that we could skip the eco facist induced mercury lamp interlude on the way.

  41. I remember as a kid the sweet taste of that nice lead flavored paint, but as I got older it became harder and harder to find.

    Leave it to the Chinese to just put it in everything…

  42. @ Robert Austin – 9:36 pm

    Yes, I understand that halogens are less energy efficient than CFLs – the packets say ≈40W instead of 12 or so for CFL and >60 for incandescents (and yes I realise that halogens are also incandescents but saying ‘incandescent halogen’ all the time seemed like extra work for my very slow typing ability). However, that wasn’t really what I was asking about. What I was interested in is whether halogen bulbs have less obvious downsides in the way that CFLs have the mercury problem, questions over ballasts etc. For example, which particular halogen are we talking about and is there a toxicity issue if the bulb is broken? Does production use a resource that has other unwanted side effects on the environment where it’s extracted or could have been better used elsewhere if we’d stuck with boggo incandescents? That’s more the kind of thing what I was getting at. We all know that if you never look beyond the packaging CFLs would seem to be ideal, but that that isn’t the whole story. So what downsides, if any, do halogens have they you can’t tell from looking at the packet in the shop?

  43. “Calvi36 says:
    February 10, 2011 at 10:26 pm”

    You don’t need a dam, all you need is a drop of 2m thereabouts for a turbine about 300mm in size. That’s more than enough for the average household.

  44. It’s sad that our tax dollars are paying for such drivel.

    Everything can be toxic at the right dose.
    At lower doses, many of these elements are essential for life.

    Our bodies contain trace uranium and plutonium.
    Does that mean we’ll fission if we have a really big group hug?

  45. This report is codswallop.

    Its REALLY hard to break a LED, because they are very very small. (Unlike a conventional bulb or CFL). The typical composition of the LED is silicon (ie sand like off the beach) doped with TINY amounts of arsenic, gold, indium, gallium and various other odds and ends. The bond out wires are usually aluminium.

    About the only one in there that matters is the arsenic, but the quantities are miniscule. You’d have to eat wheelbarrows full of the things AFTER carefully de-encapsulating them to have any worries.

    Of the other things – alumimium is all around us, people EAT gold in certain treats and its used as a treatment for some medical conditions. Indium is a rare metal, gallium is too, but its inert and you can buy it as a geek plaything because it melts at body temperature.

    These days pretty much all modern electronics, include LED’s, has to be ROHS compliant to satisfy Eurpoean law (and this was such a pain for the electronics industry generally that its been easiest to just go lead-free everywhere even when ROHS compliance is not required.) This compliance means there IS NO LEAD in a LED!

    Don’t know where this idiot is coming from but it seems like his facts are way off the mark.

  46. Boy, I sure do long for the good old days before technology ruined our lives, back when the odd sabretooth or Vibrio cholerae nailed ya long before anyone could worry about dying from a DDT, gallium arsenide, or viagra OD. :-)

  47. With the ban on incandescent bulbs the UK I was compelled to buy and install the expensive Philip’s CFLs. I now find that the much advertised life expectancy is untrue with many bulbs lasting for less than that of an ordinary incandescent bulb, before the tube becomes grey and the light output decreases.
    More eco, save the world hype!

  48. This is a very familiar and sad story. Remember biofuel production in Indonesia? It led to massive deforestation and an increase in ozone producing palm oil trees. There we had unintended consequences as a result of not taking time and not thinking things through, something we have been telling Warmists about – take your time and don’t rush, the world will not boil tomorrow.

  49. Henry as per my previous post which you must have missed:

    Centrica, a French Company that owns British Gas has reported this:

    Key Fundamentals Financials – Interim (28/7/2010)
    Turnover £m 11,707
    Pre-tax Profit £m 2,004
    EPS p 25.78
    DPS p 9.14

    Not a bad profit margin in my book!

  50. Whenever you have a new technology you get a lobby trying to force the world to adopt it. It was like that with windmills (sorry windturbines … cause they are new aren’t they) it was like that with new lights, it was like that with ID cards here in the UK. One could also mention swine flu jabs. Genetically modified crops, etc. etc.

    The scheme works like this:

    1. A lot of money is to be made
    2. Someone dreams up some excuse why the public should buy it
    3. Lobbyists are hired to persuade everyone politician that the public should be forced to buy it.
    4. The opposition to the scheme is ….just the general public and they are neither organised nor funded to lobby for the status quo … so basically no one lobbies for common sense.
    5. Being the gullible idiots that politicians are … they think that a few lobbyists amount to “overwhelming support by the public” … until that is they actually tell the public who have been blissfully unaware of their idiotic plans … and then it is too late because the politicians have already decided what is “best for use” (aka they can’t back down because that way they have to admit that they’ve been had by the lobbyists”

  51. I live in Scandinavia or more precise Sweden. Here we need to heat our houses more that half the year. During this period it also get rather dark compared to the summer that is rather exeptionally bright with “white nights” etc.

    Now the are about to ban the traditional light bulb here and replace it with LED and mercury filled CFL’s. So, for each bulb I replace my heater start to work harder …

    Besides that the energy effiency is mad the new lamps never last the promised x-thousand hours…

    But as you all noticed the winter season is cancelled by IPCC so it must be an artificial
    problem …

  52. Paracelsus pointed out that the poison is in the dose. Nearly everything is toxic in sufficient quantities – even water. In addition, animals, including H. sap., evolved in environments with all sorts of stuff in them, so the fact that we are here indicates that we have pretty good systems for avoiding damage. Some research a few years ago in Finland on ex-employees of a lead smelter compared their blood lead levels then and now, after retirement and found that their levels had been very high while in the plant but had dropped to normal since. So far as I can recall there were no obvious health problems either. Certainly, the only deaths from lead poisoning I know of occurred from being hit between the ears by several grains of the stuff moving rather fast. A couple of hundred years ago the cider drinkers of Devon and Dorset were afflicted with “Devon colic” which was later traced to the fruit acids in the cider dissolving lead from their pewter mugs. They didn’t die of it any more than the Romans who ruled the world’s greatest empire while eating off lead plates and sweetening their wine with lead acetate.
    I have been shooting small-bore (0.22″) rifle for the last fifty years, often being able to taste the sweetness of lead after a long session on the range and am still a Mensa member. Sure, there is good evidence that lead is neurotoxic during a very short period of the brain’s development, but that seems to be over by the age of three. A two-year-old might have difficulty holding my 16 lb rifle (not to mention getting it from me in the first place).
    There is also the interesting phenomenon of hormesis (the tendency of a small dose of something harmful to do good in small doses, i.e. the harm from a total absence of a toxin is greater than the harm from a small dose). I don’t think a lot has been done on this yet, but the cohort of people who were at Hiroshima and/or Nagasaki has been studied intensively and their general health has been better than controls since.
    There is much we don’t know about pollution in general, and chemical substances in particular, so the sensible course seems to be not to panic and stick with what we know before panicking just because someone has developed an instrument that is capable of showing that what we’ve used for years has low levels of something nasty in it. If it didn’t kill our grandparents, it probably won’t kill us.

  53. Ken Stewart says:
    February 10, 2011 at 9:12 pm
    In Oz we can’t buy old bulbs anymore, you can’t sell a house without an environmental rating which includes having eco lights, the new ones are dear, dim, and don’t last as long. What a great idea! What can we do next!”

    Start burning bees wax candles and whale oil
    lanterns! Both carbon neutral.

  54. Overpaying for an inferior product is the norm for the environmental movement. The agencies no longer test equipment for reliability – only fuel efficiency. And what does the manufacturer do in that situation? Focus on cutting manufacturing costs to the detriment of reliability. In theory LEDs may well be a good lighting product because of the maintencance savings, but in practice I would bet the leds last for a lot longer, but the power supply becomes the weak link in the chain. Perhaps the standard charger initiative should be extended to standardize a dc power supply in the home.

    If the entire environmental impacts were taken into account the answer most of the time would surely be to do nothing. This never had anything to do with saving the planet but making everybody spend time on their pet project to raise it in everybody’s conscious to justify their own extravagances. They will then try and take the credit for efficiency improvements which always would have been made, and use that as justification for their incredibly wasteful expenditure.

  55. Re Angry Exile says:
    February 10, 2011 at 9:10 pm

    Our experience is that they don’t last in light fittings where the bulbs are horizontal, and they’re not worth a damn in a workshop lead light – one minor bump and a new bulb. No idea on contamination.

  56. These bulbs do not do what they say on the tin. They are certainly not as powerful as they cl;aim to be. I do not know whether this is down to the colour of the light but you have to go up a couple of sizes. In other words, if you were running a 60 watt tungsten bulb, you need to replace this with the equivalent of at least a 100 watt energy saver bulb.
    The other day I had to replace one of these bulbs that had been in service for just 2 years (may be slightly less) yet on the box, they claim that it will last for 10 years. This is not the first time that I have had to replace one of these bulbs after a short life span. They certainly do not last as long as the claim and this is important to their claims that whilst they are expensive, over their lifetime they will save you money. This is a false claim, if they last considerably less than they claim.
    I am not even convinced that they are that much more energy efficient since they tend to change usage pattern. I have several bulbs that I now leave on 24 hours a day whereas with the tungsten bulbs I would have run them for only between 6 and 14 hours a day (depending upon summer/winter usage). One is tempted to think that it is only 9w or 11w so one becomes lazy and leaves the light on.
    All in all, I suspect that these bulbs will be seen to be an enviromental disaster.

  57. Agreed,
    but apart from the possible CFL or LED problems,
    the ban on ordinary incandescents makes no sense anyway:

    Citizens pay for the electricity they use,
    there is no energy shortage justifying usage limitation on citizens,
    and if there was a shortage of finite coal/oil/gas, their price rise
    limits their use anyway – without legislation.
    Emissions? Light bulbs don’t give out CO2 gas -power plants might.
    As it happens the supposed energy savings are not there anyway,

    http://ceolas.net/#li171x

    including US Dept of Energy references
    Under 1% overall energy savings from a ban

  58. Fumes when they’re talking about LEDs, not CFLs? Talk about Ye Olde Bait and Switch! And if a child munches down on a twinkling LED Christmas light, I’d think he’d be in greater danger of choking. He’d have to munch down on at least a whole string (and break through the plastic encapsulation) to be at risk of poisoning—in which case, he’s in dire need of parental supervision.

  59. @Angry Exile – February 10, 2011 at 9:10 pm
    Halogen bulbs are not intended to be used with dimmers. They need to run hot. Using a halogen lamp with a dimmer will actually shorten its life. Look up “Halogen Cycle” for details.

  60. Oh, for heaven’s sake – I’m so tired of all the hoops we’re becoming required to jump through just because of the minute possibility that trace quantities of some heavy metal or another in some manufactured product might find its way into the ‘environment’.
    Besides the fact that the only significant ‘threat’ to the environment can be during and before the manufacturing process, where do they think these heavy metals come from in the first place? Are we now in mortal danger because we happen to live on a planet where lead, arsenic etc can be found?

  61. Bah, humbug.

    Halogen with reflector rules.
    Even incandescent with reflector is superior to all this new nonsense.

  62. Interesting article, but red flags go up when I read words like ‘could be a tipping point’. I also suspect the Department of Toxic Substances Control are going to be very keen on finding substances to control. Maybe I’m jaded and my trust in authority has been eroded by GW propaganda, but I don’t trust official pronouncements like this without seeing supporting data and taking context and proportionality into account. I wonder how many trace heavy metals we are exposed to daily without even realising? Also there are a lot of things that could harm a child if eaten. Luckily, children generally prefer food.

  63. Harry the Hacker,

    You’ll find that leaded solder is still the norm in safety-critical and high-reliability electronics. That’s because a lot of the problems associated with lead-free solder have not yet been satisfactorily solved.

  64. @WUWT
    > CFL’s … and now LED bulbs are so much more eco unfriendly and when they
    > inevitably end up in landfills, they become a source of heavy metal.

    What is this? Yes, CFL’s are nasty little polluters. I don’t buy them anymore. But you’re castigating LED’s? By association with CFL’s? They’re made of tiny bits of silicon (‘sand’), with only nanoscopic levels of other ‘dopants’, encased in plastic.

    Perhaps I’m missing something here. Have you any evidence that LED’s are chemically or environmentally harmful?

  65. @ Peter 4:04 am

    LEDs for household lighting are not considered safety critical or high reliability applications. That is generally reserved for things like military and aerospace.

  66. Calvi36

    “In my country, why not build more hydro-electric dams, god knows we have enough water!”

    Because the enviro-socialist-zombie-hippies saw fit to make policy sure to ban further building of dams for fear of potentially destroying sensitive local environment in and around river systems. Which I believe was the product of the hair brained argument that the current life in and around the rivers might not be able to adapt. The logic being that just because the rivers already having dams went right ahead to start teaming with life at the moment of its creation might not be true for a new dam. The so called precautionary principle or what ever.

    Of course one has to assume that plastering acres upon acres with solar panels are absolutely the bestest thing ever for the local environment what with all them critters now can spend time in the shade of crazed hippie ingenuity. And of course assume that millions of wind mills are the pillars of creation of the new green world less the avionic capable soup ingredients formerly known as birds. (Mosquitos +1.)

  67. Seen in one of our local supermarkets in the UK recently:
    Tungsten lamps (basically banned – but stockists are allowed to use up stock): 25p each.
    CFLs: 10p each – and there was a HUGE binful..!
    Question: What’s going to happen when the retailers collectively decide that it isn’t worth the retail space trying to flog CFLs any more, and they all finish up in landfill..?

  68. Henry@calvi36

    Yes, I noticed the profits. We have a state owned energy company, which I think is better as they are more non profit orientated, We had a shortage of electricity some time ago due to bad planning in the past. We were asked to change the bulbs (which most of us did) but I am sure that this did not save all that much. They then decided to subsidise solar geyser installations. Like I said, after installing a solar geyser my consumption of electricity went down by 40%. I still have back up normal electricity for the days when there is no sun. (geyser switches on automatically if water gets too cold)
    Visiting LA now, which has so mch sunshne. I am puzzled that no one here has solar geysers?
    Likw I said, we all know global warming is a hoax but it still costs money to make energy so it is still better if we can save energy.

  69. I agree with some of the comments above, particularely in areas where heating is required many months ofthe year. During the spring, fall and winter in many parts of Canada energy loss due to heat production with the old standard bulbs was no loss at all. The heat was lost inside the home and simply replaced heat from a base board heater. It is amazing how much two 100 W bulbs will warm up a room. Well, not amazing I guess. Five bulbs would almost equal one 500 W heater, minus the energy used to produce light.

    I n the summer time, late spring and early fall how much time are the bulbs actually on?

    A more important gripe. The compact fluorescent bulbs are supposed to last for years. Utter BS. I see them lasting more in the order of 6 months, some times less.

  70. @ Angry Exile – Off the top of my head Halogen bulbs use Xenon gas, which is a trace component of the atmosphere, so shouldn’t pose any health problems. As stated above they should not be dimmed as the metal lost from the filament during use is re-deposited by this chemical reaction. Because of the higher temperatures involved the filament is contained in a quartz capsule, so the production process is invariably more complex and costly. This must affect the “Eco” aspect in a negative way. Another thing that bothers me is the orientation of the filament. Conventional bulbs have this at right angles to the cap, and so a good proportion of the light is radiated downwards where it’s most needed. Halogen bulbs usually have the filament vertical, and so most of the light gets sent to the walls, not down. The same applies to CFL’s, which may go some way to explaining peoples complaints about comparisons with conventional bulbs.

    I’ve just found this site which has more details:

    http://www.sylvania.com/ConsumerProducts/AutomotiveLighting/Products/Halogen/HowHalogenWorks.htm

  71. @ Bill Thomson at 3:49 am – Halogen bulbs are not intended to be used with dimmers. They need to run hot.

    Interesting. They’re being marketed here as suitable for dimmers, and I’ve not found a dimmer friendly CFL in the usual places. Since I’ve finally run out of my carefully hoarded stock of regular incandescents these seem to be the only alternative. A bit of dodgy marketing? Or they know that technically they’ll work (they do) but maybe not last as long?

  72. pkatt says:
    February 10, 2011 at 10:18 pm

    Anyone who has ever worked under a car with the old work lights knows that at least once during the fix, your bulb will break or burn out. That was with the old style lights. Clean up.. sweep, toss and get back to work. Now? Hazmat suit, gloves, mask, glass jar and at least 30 mins to let the dust settle.. gee that is so much better.

    Fortunately, rough service bulbs are exempt from the ban.

  73. I don’t mind using LEDs or CFLs in the right situation, but incandescent bulbs in my opinion give off a better quality light. My main objection to the light bulb ban is that the government is writing laws arbitrarily to regulate something and not letting the free market work. If CFLs and LEDs are superior, they will win the day in the marketplace, just as iPods have replaced CDs, not because someone wrote a law banning CDs but because the new technology was superior. Likewise, no one wrote a law banning 35mm film…the list goes on.

    Let individuals decide what’s best for their needs…

  74. I never thought I’d find myself agreeing with Lazy Teenager (LazyTeenager says:
    February 10, 2011 at 10:38 pm), but what he (she) said – utter rubbish. I suggest that you will be safe as long as you don’t grind them up in quantity and ingest them.

    As for kids, I suspect there is a far higher likelihood of choking on individual LEDs than of being affected by the toxins, or of being strangled by getting caught in a string of Christmas lights.

    When will people be given the knowledge to judge the scale of any potential hazard? The toxins in LEDs, especially arsenic, are present in microscopic quantities and it is debatable whether they could be separated from the silicon matrix which they are doping by a digestive system.

    End of rant, now to something much more practical.

    A word of warning for people planning to replace low voltage halogen lights (MR11/MR16) with LED versions. I had problems with early failure which the supplier said was due to using the electronic transformer designed for halogen lamps. This produces high frequency AC (40kHz or so, I think) with poor voltage regulation, which apparently those LED lamps didn’t like. You need to get get transformers designed for LED illumination, or use a conventional 12V transformer which supplies AC at mains frequency.

    I have LEDs lamps supplied using both types and the only problem I have observed is that those lights using dense matrices of conventional LEDs (72 LEDs packed into a MR16 bulb) is loss of some of the LEDs. Research suggests that this is due to overheating rather than supply effects.

    Mains powered LED lights (usually GU10 packaging) do not suffer from supply related effects.

    Power consumption in my kitchen has dropped from 300watts to about 30watts, and with typical usage of 7 or 8 hours a day we have savings over a year of around £100. Exterior lighting is now left on permanently during darkness, the PIR sensor now being unnecessary as the light is directional rather than flood (so doesn’t annoy the neighbours) and the power consumption is just a few watts.

  75. Diodes could have other uses, as many of them emit a laser like light of a single wavelength. Sun´s light is mainly a Calcium wavelength light, a warm yellow.

  76. @ Dave Ward at 4:51 am – thanks for that info. The bulbs I’m using are these:

    http://www.mirabella.com.au/products-energy-savers.html?Itemid=49&product=7 (better picture of the packaging at http://dicksmith.com.au/product/S8511/halogen-gls-42w-es-clear-energy-globe)

    Your thoughts? As I said above, since normal incandescents are banned and I’ve run out of spares I just went for what said dimmable on the box. Is a false claim being made here or might it be just that they’re less than ideal for dimmers? Or might the manufacturer found a solution?

  77. @M.A.DeLuca says:
    February 10, 2011 at 8:47 pm

    Wait. What?

    Except for the anode and cathode, the guts of an LED are encased in a thick layer of plastic.

    Plastic, huh? Plastic is made from fossil fuels. Isn’t that bad? Raping mother earth, all that Co2 released during plastic manufacture, etc. just so we terrible humans can light the night. For shame. ;)

  78. There seems to be some confusion here.

    I agree with the restoration of incandescent bulbs.

    However, it is not LED (light emitting diode) lights that are the problem, it is CFL’s (compact fluorescent lights) containing mercury that are the danger.

    The CFL’s often have a much shorter life than claimed, are relatively expensive, warm up times become progressively longer, some explode, and all release mercury after breakage of the glass.

    In true Greenie fashion/ignorance, their “solution” poses a much greater threat than any supposed problem they claim to cure.

  79. I agree with several others questioning this article. While CFLs may have a significant toxicity problem due to mercury vapor being released when they break, this article is about LEDs.

    How easy is it to break an LED in such a way that the trace amounts of toxins are released? I can’t see that happening short of someone deliberately using a hammer on them. Even the compactors in the garbage trucks wouldn’t break them.

  80. Seeing as the Gov’t evidently has decided that lead isn’t dangerous, I suppose we can bring back lead paint? /sarc

    Or maybe it’s really a plot to cull some of the worlds population by slowly poisioning us? After all, wouldn’t the world be a better place without humans? We could let mother nature start the evolutionary process again and maybe humans would turn out better? /sarc again

    Sorry, I just can’t seem to help myslef……. I wonder how many CFL’s AlGore has in his McMansions? You know the one in the San Fransisco flood plain! /damn sarc again

  81. HenryP February 10, 2011 at 10:05 pm

    All I said was that I have noted a 40% decline in energy consumption after installing a solar geyser. But, yes, you must have regular sunshine> that is the whole point. …

    Operability in winter? In climes subject to freezing, or, where record cold is experienced e.g. Oklahoma and Texas, and as a result, burst pipes have become a common occurrence … so, what are the operational difficulties considering tap water freezes on the order of 0 deg C?

    Do these systems incorporate a separate loop (utilizing antifreeze for instance) for exposure to the outside elements? Now, the risk for contamination presents itself due to corrosion in the antifreeze heat-exchanger to the tap water side (leaking into the supply-side water as well!)

    Or do these systems incorporate additional automatic valving for the water (and the additional expense) to drain (into a provided drain in the system) the solar-exposed portion when cold temperatures are experienced?

    Already the complexity is beginning to increase for the real-world environment (subzero C temps) is considered …

    .

  82. Tom_R February 11, 2011 at 5:41 am

    How easy is it to break an LED in such a way that the trace amounts of toxins are released? I can’t see that happening short of …

    For automobiles: car accidents, house related: hurricanes, tornadoes, accidental drops during handling, rough-housing with the kids, …

    .

  83. HenryP says:
    February 10, 2011 at 9:00 pm
    Even though by now everyone who is well informed knows that global warming is a hoax, it still makes good sense to try and preserve energyy. ……. Visiting from South Africa. I am puzzled that I don’t see more solar water heating (with a solar geyser). This is stupid. You can save 40% of your electricity bill just letting the sun heat your water for the geyser. Due to to a shortage of power , our (state funded) electricity company in South Africa is giving a subsidy for every installation built. This is an idea that must be implemented worldwide, as it is a good way to spend government subsidies instead of wasting it on “climate research”.
    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    I agree but, of course, it depends where you are. With the present state of technology, solar is very good at producing low grade heat. Electrity no, far too inefficient; but low grade heat definitely if you are in a sunny climate. Whats more, a suitable system does not have to be high tech, you only need to make a simple heat exchanger. This is really no more than a DIY job. The larger the area of the heat exhanger, the more heat captured and produced. A suitable heat exchanger does not need to be anything more sophisticated than a series of domestic radiators painted black and situated in a sunny elevation.

    I am presently making a solar heating unit for my swimming pool (the unit will cover an area of between 25 to 30 sq m). Without heating, the pool can be used from early April through to about mid October. I expect with solar heating to be able to extend the season either end by about a month. The limit is the weakness/low angle of the sun by late November through to the end of February exacerbated by the cold air temperatures in January and February which means that you get cold quickly when wet.

    If you are in a sunny climate not only can it supply domestic hot water, it probably could sustain the bulk of underfloor heating in the winter (during sunny days of the winter). A concrete and tiled floor acts like a large storage heater and even if the system (on sunny days) only produces heat for about 6 hours a day, this with the residual effect of the concrete floor is probably sufficient to keep a room warm all evenning.

    Of course, the system would need to be supplemented since there will many days when there is no or insufficient sun but in the right climate, a solar hot water system could probably provide about 40 to 55% of winter heating which would make a big difference to energy bills especially bearing in mind how much these are going to escalate due to green levies which energy providers are charging to their customers.

  84. Calvi36 says:
    February 10, 2011 at 9:13 pm
    “Centrica, a French Company that owns British Gas has reported this:

    Key Fundamentals Financials – Interim (28/7/2010)
    Turnover £m 11,707
    Pre-tax Profit £m 2,004
    EPS p 25.78
    DPS p 9.14

    Now, do they look like they have to raise prices by 5-8%?”

    They have a price to earnings ratio of 12, that’s entirely normal for a utility, so it doesn’t look like a rip-off. They pay a dividend of 4.5 %, again nothing outrageous.

  85. Ultimately, this is exactly the sort of things we, as humans, need to be talking about. This is real environmentalism, and who doesn’t love the environment? Discuss, debate, talk, chat, etc., openly and fairly, in an atmosphere that is serious yet fruitful. Let go of pet theories, the convoluted and constrained attitudes, and just talk about what’s going on. After all, haven’t humans made grave errors in the past? Just because someone somewhere came up with a quick fix, well, since when do snap decisions become sacrosanct? All things should be open to debate, and I do mean all things. I’m a religious man by rearing and by nature. My religious beliefs have only become strengthened over a lifetime of testing and debate. All “scientific” men and women know this same principle can be applied to almost any belief or would-be solution. Indeed! It is the medium of innovation! Something is either true and will stand the test of time, or it is false and needs tweaking or perhaps an outright overhaul. Yes, sometimes you might truly get it right the first time, but if not… don’t get caught clinging to your phlogiston.

  86. The California Air Resources Board and all its subsidiaries and off-shoots have no idea whatsoever about science. They all have this strange idea that the world should be this sanitized place with no trace of anything that might cause a problem. I bet they would fall for the old dihydrogen oxide death joke and run with it. After all tens of thousands of people ARE KILLED each year by the dangers of dihydrogen oxide, and it surrounds us everywhere in the environment. (I understand it is a powerful greenhouse gas as well – in fact there is a good bit of it in my hydroponic greenhouse.)

    As for the light bulbs, other than improving the recycling ability, LED bulbs are fine. I especially appreciate that with just a little engineering, an LED array can be built with just about any desired spectral properties. The application in specialty lighting and potentially in indoor agriculture could be very good. Of course I haven’t seen any research written up on people actually trying spectral manipulation versus yields for plants to optimize the spectrum in LEDs Most of the “grow-light” products I have seen have either been fluorescent or some sort of gas/incandescent hybrid.

  87. LazyTeenager says:
    February 10, 2011 at 10:52 pm
    ———–
    Get a clue and look at the balance sheet of an energy company. Somehow you are forgetting that energy does not grow on trees; it needs to pay for fuel, labour, plant capital costs etc. Energy companies are not hugely profitable.

    And you are also fogetting the profits pay for your superannuation
    /////////////////////////////////////////////

    I do not know what planet Lazy Teenager resides on but it is certainly not planet Earth. In the UK, energy companies are raking in the profits. See for eample the article in the Daily Telegraph http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/personalfinance/consumertips/household-bills/7292915/Energy-companies-making-105-profit-per-customer.html

    There are probably about 25 to 30 million domestic customers in the UK so it is easy to do the maths. Then there is the profit that they make from business customers. They are extremely profitable businesses since they are effectively in a monopoly situation. There are only two good things that come out of this. The amount of corporation tax paid to the government and much of the high dividends they pay to the shareholders go to pension funds.

  88. I said:
    > Perhaps I’m missing something here. Have you any evidence that LED’s
    > are chemically or environmentally harmful?

    Hello, Earth to Anthony! Do you read me? LED lights may be unpleasant to look at, or underpowered compared to tungsten, but LED’s pose no environmental or ecological hazard to mankind.

    Where did you get the idea that they’re in the same hazard class as CFL’s?

  89. Anthony and commentors,

    Thanks for the stimulating discussion on LED and CFL lighting. I have been researching LED lights (tried CFLs – hate the light color, the life, the cost, the cleanup if one breaks…) and do check LEDs out – the big hardware chains have an entire subsection of them.

    LEDs are getting better and better and I think the recycling of LED bulb and spot sized lights will eventually become a no-brainer as there are good sized aluminum heat sinks on all of them and aluminum is an easy (and valuable) metal to recycle so I think there will be a market for the recycled heatsinks and a market solution to separating the printed circuit board and LED from the valuable heatsink.

    Having said that, I am absolutely opposed to government intervention mandating the use of this or that bulb. Incandescent bulbs have a wonderful ability to reproduce color – there is not any artificial lighting I know of that matches that property of incandescent lighting. This is a valuable thing and if incandescents are effectively banned our lives will be poorer for it.

  90. So the science is settled, the biggest threat to the environment is environmentalists and people who listen to them.

  91. @Angry Exile – As Halogen lamps are still a simple filament there will be no damage caused by dimming, unlike most CFL’s with electronic ballasts. However the inside of the quartz envelope is likely to become blackened with metal deposits from the filament. According to the Wiki page this can be reversed by running at full brightness again:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halogen_lamp

    Of course any benefit of superior light quality and brightness will go out the door if you dim them! If you want long life dimmable lighting, and don’t mind conventional tube type fluorescents, these can be run with special electronic ballasts allowing complete control down to virtually nothing. I doubt if many domestic “sparkies” are familiar with them, but they are used in large numbers in industrial and farming environments.

  92. In all the years I’ve been using CFLs, I’ve only have one break, because a lamp stored in the garage got pushed over and broke. I haven’t had to change a CFL bulb yet, and have NEVER had a problem with breakage screwing one in. I think the hype is high on both sides of this issue.

  93. JJB MKI says:
    February 11, 2011 at 3:57 am

    “I also suspect the Department of Toxic Substances Control are going to be very keen on finding substances to control.”

    You seem to be one of the very few here who “get it”. It has nothing to do about whether or not the arsenic or mercury causes any harm or not. That is completely irrelevant. CO2 is beneficial, but that did not stop EPA from regulating it!

    Remember the Erin Brockovich scam? She was a “legal assistant” who shut down a power company in CA because of hexavalent chromium at 0.5 ppm? Scientists have just determined that everywhere has Cr-6 in the water, and that there has been an actual “lower level of cancer rates” in the town (Hinckley) near “Ground Zero” (the power plant). ILower mortality rate than the norm, also. It turns out that Cr is an essential element needed for insulin to function.

    So it has absolutely nothing to do with whether Hg or Pb cause harm, but whether the levels can be measured. As we refine our machines to measure things better (we can measure atoms of things now, parts per nonillion), EPA keeps lowering tolerable levels, then dividing by 1000 as a “safety margin”.

    It turns out that there is a harmful level of mercury in CFLs. The brighter the CFL, by the way, the more mercury. And NO, it is not the same as long fluorescence bulbs, but is released as a gas when broken, especially if broken while hot.

    That does not matter, anyway. Mark my words, the ambulance chasers like Erin Brockovich will be suing the manufacturers and stockpilers of CFLs in future years. It is a big business. Erin Brockovich is still stumping for ambulance chasers on TV today, which forces us to pay higher insurance rates, and destines the weak-minded to a cowering fate.

    I am not worried about the GaAs in LEDs. It is just that the light sucks unless you spend a fortune on bulbs and equipment. It does not matter whether it is a toxic level. What matters, is if I put a thousand of these in land fills and crush them, “can I measure the higher level of arsenic?” The answer: of course I can, especially if you give me a grant to measure it.

    So it is not “actual” worry that matters, but “virtual worry”.

  94. Henry@RichardVerney.
    Thanks, that makes sense to me! It is true. You can make it yourself. Just copy a good design. But most people might not be that technically inclined. Anyway, when you ge a subsidy, who wants to do that work?
    Just be careful in places where it freezes during winter. I had one winter in Pretoria (where freezing is rare, so I did not expect a problem) and had to throw away one whole panel. If it freezes in your area in inter, you can either build a closed system (where the water is mixed with anti freeze) or you can buy a valve that automatically opens if the water is getting too cold. This water valve (at the roof panel) opens which allows letting fresh water of higher temperature coming in.

  95. Are these morons totally brain dead ? Does the University of California now give classes in terminal stupidity ?

    For the un-initiated studies have shown that there are a sizeable number of naturally occuring materials in the environment that are known to be toxic.

    Of the simplest class of these materials, the number presently stands at 92 known toxic materials, although at least one and maybe two of those that were believed to exist, have not yet been found in nature. The other 90 are pervasive and have known health risks. Some of them bring about death through asphyxiation when inhaled (like the UC study mentions) while other destroy cells and other parts of the body.

    Hello ! Earth to UC Irvine ! Copper has been reported in more than trace amounts in the wiring in ALL homes and buildings in California. Likewise, the plumbing and piping in many houses and buildings, are believed to contain lethal amounts of copper, which can poison water, if it should get on the outside of the pipe.

    As for Arsenic in LEDs, most modern LEDs contain no Arsenic at all. Modern efficient Red, Orange, or Yellow LEDs are quartenary crystals of AlInGaP. The shorter wavelength types are based on GaN or InGaN.

    Back when I was making LEDs (red ones) we used a lot of Arsenic. The basic red LED material was GaAs0.6P0.4, emitting at about 645 nm peak wavelength; but the substrates were 100% GaAs, which we made right here in silicon valley. We had in our building in Si Valley, enough arsenic, to poison every living thing in the known Universe; plus all the parallel universes.

    Anybody who worked in the departments with that material or with the recycling of that material, got tested every month for arsenic contamination. NO Employee, every tested positive for arsenic contamination. We also had Arsenic in gaseous form; Arsine, AsH4 which smells like garlic. Well we also had Phosphine, PH4 which is just as toxic. Don’t forget Silane, used in Silicon operations.

    All our computers contain copper, and nickel.

    Everything we touch, see or feel is made from some combination of these 90 basic toxic materials which are found in nature.

    It seems to me, that we are wasting entirely too much money on total idiots at the Universtity of California Irvine; and it’s time to turn those fools out to pasture; maybe they can find some safe place out in the widerness; where they don’t have to worry about women and little children getting harmed.

  96. It’s fun to constantly have new teech appearing. But it should never be forced huppon us. What’s so hard to understand for our legislators?

    I use CFL for the bathroom and normal light bulb for the rest of the house.

  97. I have a laundry room cupboard stuffed full of hoarded incandescents. Here in Canada, our wise “conservative” government banned the unfairly vilified incandescent bulb, which is set to fully kick in next year. I’ll be damned if the government feels it can dictate how I light my home by legislative fiat.

  98. I switched our outdoor spot lights to CFL bulbs a few years back (after PG&E went with their 5 tier pricing program for electricity) to cut our baseline usage a bit. We live a rather cool to cold winter location and I use tungsten bulbs in many indoor locations as they provide some heat along with light. My in-laws use a tungsten bulb in their pump house to prevent their piping from freezing during the winter. So my in-laws and I don’t consider the heat from the bulbs wasted energy- in fact we like it. I hate to think that we will have to go to Nevada to get the bulbs we want to use for our specific needs.

  99. “And – noting that lead tastes sweet – he warned that small children could be harmed if they mistake the bright lights for candy.”

    Really?
    I mean….really….?
    My three-year-old is no supergenius, but I’m confident he already knows that there is no overlap on a Venn diagram of “Things That Glow” vs. “Foodstuffs.” Even before he could talk, and only used basic sign language to communicate, not once did he point to the chandelier, and then signal “Hey! I wanna eat that!”

    Maybe I sell the boy short, and he really is a supergenius.

  100. Mark Miller says:
    February 11, 2011 at 8:44 am

    Nothing like curling up with a book to a nice, warm, incandescent in the winter. Ever try curling up to a cold LED? Brrr. I think I’ll read a Kindle book instead.

    The point is, we can “feel” the light, just like we can feel the sunlight. It provides comfort as well as light.

    Eureka: I’ve got it! We can make LEDs with heating filaments (maybe infrared elements) alongside to provide the warmth we need! I should patent that. Oops! Too late, I divulged.

  101. @ Dave Ward – 7:55am

    Normally we leave them near full brightness anyway. The only reason for the dimmer is the TV’s in there and depending what we’re watching we might want the light turned down a bit. Since it’s an existing light designed for regular bayonet fitting bulbs I was happy to replace just the bulbs for about ten bucks rather than get an electrician in just because Canberra fell for the hype and banned regular light bulbs. Thanks for all the info, it’s been very illuminating…

    … I’ll get me coat.

  102. “”””” Curiousgeorge says:
    February 11, 2011 at 5:21 am
    @M.A.DeLuca says:
    February 10, 2011 at 8:47 pm

    Wait. What?

    Except for the anode and cathode, the guts of an LED are encased in a thick layer of plastic. “””””

    Well that is just total nonsense. While the “anode and cathode” (hint to reader; that’s THE LED) do not have to be encased in plastic; the chances of finding ANY LED lamp where the “anode and cathode” are NOT encased in plastic, is about 27 orders of magnitude short of zero.

    Light emitting Semiconductive materials have very high refractice indices; 3.5 is a quite typical range. A bare LED die sitting out in air, will only let about 1% of the total light generated inside, the die, to escape out ito the air. For an index of 3.5, the critical angle is 16.6 degrees, and the normal reflection coefficient is about 30%, so most of the generated flux is trapped insoide the die by Total Internal Reflection (TIR). Encapsulating the die in a plastic of index (n) will raise the light output by more than (n)^2; and with proper geometry you can get beyond (n)^4 times the light output.

    The only time bare LEDs were ever used, was in displays that were required to be hermetically sealed for Military applications.

    Both Phillips, and Cree Research are currently marketing some very good LED lamps. Phillips has a good 40 Watt Equivalent that is about $22; and I have a number of those in my house. I am systematically going through and replaceing all CFLs by LEDs, and also replacing Incandescents wherever I can.

    Some Hong Kong Fooey LED lamps seem to have been designed by brain dead people. I haves ome that are about $15 and replace 15 Watt decortative lamps. The do not turn on instantly; take about a second to kick on for some unexplained reason that has nothing to do with LEDs. Also for some reason, those same lamps can NOT be used on dimmers.
    Now there’s a smart idea; who has a candelabra with decorative bulbs, that is NOT on a dimmer.

    LEDs are the absolutely perfect dimmable lamp. Incandescents are very inefficient when dimmed; the color temperature goes to hell, and they become near IR lamps instead of visible light emitters.

    So why anybody is making a non-dimmable LED is beyond my pay grade to comprehend; you have to go out of your way to make an LED lamp that cannot be dimmed.

    I told the folks at Frys that their whole LED lamp department, belongs at ToysR’us. It’s all kiddie stuff with no seriosu LED lamp products worth wasting your time on. I did buy some of the 15 Watt eventual turn on lamps, because they are nice spherical globes, and they go into the front hallway light which is not dimmable, and is always turned on by my wife, before she even steps through the front door.

    I wouldn’t waste the money on LED bulbs that are some number of T 1 3/4 indicator lamps on a pc board (That’s 5 mm dia lamps if you aren’t up on LED nomenclature)
    If you pick up any ordinary LED indicator lamp, you will see that there is about as much light coming out the back as comes out the front, and the ones that are supposed to be very narrow beam, aren’t. Hold them against a white sheet, and you will see the bright central spot, but with a great big wide angle ring halo around them; the result ofr TIR inside the plastic encapsulation; which is also why half the light comes out the back. The people who design these products, are mechanical packaging engineers, who think that Optical Engineering, is mechanical packaging usieng transparent materials. They don’t know diddley squat about Optical Design or the laws of Optics. Just look at the lousy designs of current auto tail lights that are LED based.

    LED lamps are quite safe and not toxic when used for their intended purpose. You are more likely to die from a broken neck through tripping in an unlit hallway, than you are to get poisoned by an LED; and the margin, is that same 27 orders of magnitude.

  103. My objection to CFLs (or LEDs for that matter) is not just practical (but that as well) but that I am compelled by law to use them, or more correctly, prevented by law from using fluorescents. It seems that the public in the US, EU and Australia are all in the same boat – what a coincidence!
    If, as some have suggested here, low energy bulbs are such a good idea, then they will naturally take over from inferior older technology, like cars replaced horse carriages, steam replaced sail, and the telephone replaced the telegraph. Those diehards that are massive fans of horse-power are free to continue (the Queen for instance).
    If however the situation is so serious that government intervention is required to stop people using inefficient fluorescent technology, then why allow people to live in houses with more rooms (and lightbulbs) than they need? Thinking about it, why allow domestic lighting at all? We could all wear miner’s helmets and then only need one lightbulb each!

  104. I can’t believe you fall for this *crap*. It’s all doom and gloom, man’s fault, and, they even suggested a “tipping point” for cancer. Do you not read your own website?

    So, the arsenic is semiconductors is in the wrong form to cause cancer. Their finding is crap.

    The idea of copper being a fish toxin is a real knee-slapper. The anti-fouling compounds used on boats use copper to stop barnacle formation, but, copper is one of the most abundant metals on the planet *AND* and *ESSENTIAL TRACE ELEMENT* without which life in an oxygen environment cannot exist (see Cu/Zn Superoxide dismutase) among others. Copper pollution from LED’s is like spitting into the ocean.

    Everyone likes to harp on the bogey-man of lead & mercury poisoning. Usually only kids get serious lead poisoning, and, that’s from eating lead paint (lead is sweet-tasting). That poisoning usually comes as developmental issues, not death. Mercury poisoning is tough to do. Mercury is present in ~50% concentration in dental amalgam and regularly leaches out into saliva and is passed through the intestine, basically eliminating it. Methyl-mercury is present in fish, and, people with a high fish intake can get methyl-mercury poisoning. Once again, the additional mercury from landfilling these bulbs is like spitting into the ocean. We have substantial mercury right in our own mouths, a practice that has been banned in some countries and may be banned in the US in the future. It’s mostly safe…. but sometimes not.

    So, are these people really your allies in bringing back the bulb. It sounds like they’re the same people hyping the end-of-civilization in someone else’s field. They should not be supported.

  105. Spooky coincidence. One of the halogen lights I’ve been asking about has chosen now to go ping. What can it mean? Apart from that I need to go and buy another bulb ;)

  106. Let’s face it. The switch from incandescent bulbs was just a scam that made some poiticians and civil servants very rich. CO2 my a**e.

  107. “Let me guess: your kitchen has had fluorescent tubes in it since the 1950′s. The only difference between these and CFLs is the size.

    So you have been whining about fluorescent tubes all that time? I don’t think so.”

    Wrong; there are several differences between the tube flourescents and CFL “bulbs,” including (but not limited to) the separation of the starter & ballast from the illumination tube, and the thought that went into the replacement process / design for the tubes. You don’t put shear loads across the glass on a tube to remove / install it, and it is a much-larger diameter tube of glass.

    To take out an old-style flourescent tube, you’re twisting, with enough force to push a metal pin past a metal spring-clip. Very likely that the glass is strong enough to resist that pressure. Let’s say you were tasked to break one of these tubes using only your bare hands. Would you try to break the tube by grasping it with both hands and twisting in opposite directions? No. You’re going to apply pressure perpendicular to the tube, and snap it half.

    To take out a CFL, you’re likely using the “natural handle” of the glass spiral itself to exert pressure in precisely that direction, perpendicular to the glass tube at the base, to cause the entire unit to rotate, exerting enough force to overcome the friction of metal against metal for the entire surface area of the screw and socket. Now factor in possible additional “squeeze” from heat expansion. Now factor in possible additional friction from dust accumulation in the socket of the fixture. Now factor in how much smaller the diameter of the glass tube is, compared to the old-style flourescent.

    This is a completely unnecessary and fixable design-flaw in CFLs. Yet it persists.

    And as for the need to retrofit and include a starter & ballast into the CFL, because of this, the bulb will always be larger than a filament-bulb. I have several fixtures in my house that a CFL simply will not fit into, of both the standard-sized screw and the candelabra-sized screw. Ever see the recesses for the appliance bulbs in your clothes dryer, microwave, and oven?

    Finally, assuming you’ve finally provided a bulb that will fit into these tight spaces, how well do you think the plastic housings on a CFL or an LED retrofit-bulb will fare when the dryer is loaded with towels on maximum heat? How well will it fare when I’m searing a roast at 500°F in the oven, or running the self-clean cycle?

  108. Funny how you can no longer buy incandescent light bulbs, but there’s no problem buying a 3KW electric heater, or even a 500W halogen bulb

  109. There are two basic ways to make white LEDs which are the essence of LED light bulbs. The first approach is to use several diodes of different colors to make white light.
    There is actually a thrid way to make a white light (for a flash light (torch)); but it isn’t of much use for anything else.
    It can be proved theoretically, that the highest luminous efficiency “white” light can be made from two monochromatic sources at 448 and 568.7 nm which are a blue and yellow. The resulting “white Light” (Standard Source C) produces 400 lumens per Watt. Present LEDs are around 55 l/W and up to 100 l/W has been done in the laboratory. The LED gurus believe that they can reach 200 l/W, with a practical “white light”.

    The two color lamp migh make a goor torch; but it is useless as an illuminant since there is nothing there but that blue and the yellow, so you do not get correct color rendition.

    But three color LEDS can produce quite good “white” light. The individual LEDs are not monochromatic like the theoretical best; but are still quite narrow, and you have to match three different drive currents to the three LEDs to keep the color constant, if you dim them. It turns out that the Human eye does not in general see a colored light source as being a constant hue, if you vary the output. In fact only three specific wavelengths have the property of staying constant hue as you crank the brightness up and down; ok since I raised the issue, I’ll tell you they are 478, 505, and 573 nm wavelength. OK so two of them are damn close to the highest efficiency pair. At the red end, a 600 nm orangy color can shift all the way to more like a 665 deep red when you crank the brightness up.

    These effects of course are not physics; they are the psycho-physics of color vision; ie, a property of the (normal) human eye.

    This particular effect is called the Bezold-Brucke phenomenon (umlaut over that u).

    The most prevalent white LED, single diode design, is based on a totally unique phosphor property. That phosphor is the Cerium doped Yttrium Aluminum Garnet; Ce 3+ : Y3Al5O12

    This has a unique very clean strong absorption in the blue at about 460 nm. The 50% width is about 440 to 480 nm. Ordinary Blue LEDs are usually more like 470 nm, as 460 starts toi get a bit Indigoish; and evidently men don’t really see Indigo; so we don’t like looking at colors near that range.

    So you make a 460 Blindigo LED, ad you coat it with the Cerium doped Garnet phosphor, which absorbs a lot of the blue light, and then fluoresces over a fairly broad yellow region; well from yellow through orange, since yellow is only about 5 nm of the spectrum. The broad green-yellow-orange mixes with the residual blue that didn’t get absorbed by the Cerium, and the result is a reasonable white light but with a color temperature of maybe 6500 K; so whiter that sunlight; but there isn’t any red in it.

    This is a patented system (Japanese). Other vendors have added small amounts of a typical T&V red phosphor to put a slight red kick into the color, and give a much better color rendition white light with color temperatures more in the 3000 K range; so “warm white”.

    Well everybody is playing the phosphor game either licensing the Cerium phosphor and adding their own red goose, or trying to find alternatives. Unfortunately, approaches that lead to more pleasant “white” lamps, tend to be less efficient, in terms of lumens per Watt.

    But the stakes are high and the payoff is there for the companies that put in the research. So every illumination company in the world has abig investment in white LED technology; and LED technology in general. Phillips is very good at it; having teamed with Hewlett Packard in a joint venture, LumiLEDs; which is now pretty much totally owned by Phillips.

    But Cree research is no slouch either and they are going to be one of the big players; with their own technical inputs.

    Siemens and Osram of course are big European players; and I am sure I am forgetting some others.

    My house is going to go as near to all LED as I can get; it’s either that or explain to the family, that ALL light switches have an “off” position.

    And I’m just going to thumb my nose at those monthly Arsenic tests; my hair has mostly gone anyhow, so not much to test.

  110. >> _Jim says:
    February 11, 2011 at 6:39 am

    For automobiles: car accidents, house related: hurricanes, tornadoes, accidental drops during handling, rough-housing with the kids, … <<

    Car accidents is a possibility. I doubt rough-housing would release anything. Rather than crush up a thousand LEDs and measure the toxins, the researchers should have tested how much mechanical damage it would take to expose the internal chemicals.

    I suspect George Smith is correct and that all of the LEDs are a drop in the bucket compared to natural toxins.

  111. @ reason – CFL’s will NEVER be able to replace filament lamps in your last scenario – the ballast’s wouldn’t last more than a few minutes. Excess heat is the primary cause of failure with them. If you read the small print on the side of the box it invariably says they should not be used in enclosed fittings, and I have even seen recommendations that they should only be installed cap down, which isn’t much use as regards the light being given off…

    I have a couple of Phillips “SL” fluorescent bulbs which must be ten years old at least. They are huge, and heavy due to a conventional wound ballast, but despite the ends of the tube being well blackened they keep going. I wish I could buy some more, as they don’t interfere with the I/R remote control on my HiFi…

  112. >> Jeff Alberts says:
    February 11, 2011 at 7:56 am

    In all the years I’ve been using CFLs, I’ve only have one break, because a lamp stored in the garage got pushed over and broke. I haven’t had to change a CFL bulb yet, and have NEVER had a problem with breakage screwing one in. I think the hype is high on both sides of this issue. <<

    I've had many CFL bulbs burn out. My estimate is that they last about twice as long as tungsten bulbs. Bugs in the ballasts are a problem with exterior use, and the ballasts smell godawful when they burn out.

    I tend to not worry so much about turning them off, so they probably don't save as much energy because of that. I don't find the light quality a problem, and prefer them in applications where replacement is difficult or the light needs to stay on a long time. I'm not the type to worry about the small level of mercury if one breaks.

    IMO the government shouldn't mandate them, and doesn't need to. Neither should they be subject to lawsuits for mercury. Just let the various light bulbs stand on their own merits and let the user decide what he wants.

  113. Mr. Watts… Do your homework please. This one was way too easy. You have a very public and important forum here – obviously this comes with a responsibility for good information.

    The impact of CFLs in coal-burning regions (50% of our electric generation) results in less mercury being released, because coal-burning is a source of mercury itself (among other heavy metals).

    ¨In the United States, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimated that if all 270 million compact fluorescent lamps sold in 2007 were sent to landfill sites, that this would represent around 0.13 metric tons, or 0.1% of all U.S. emissions of mercury (around 104 metric tons that year).¨ (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compact_fluorescent_lamp#Mercury_content)

    Not to mention that nothing even close to a lifecycle analysis was considered for the expected long-life of LED lights. Yes, they and CFLs have heavy metals, but what is the alternative? Increased mercury production released uncaptured into the air. The mercury in CFLs/LEDs at least has the opportunity to be recycled/concentrated where it could be treated/handled safely.

  114. Rough calculations and non confirmed numbers (GIGO):

    LED Chip is roughly 1mm X 1mm, doped layers are roughly 3 microns thick (Depending on type).
    Arsenic is < 0.8% in doped layers.

    One LED has about 50 mcg arsenic. About what you would find in 50 grams of beef or half that much shrimp.

    Silicon is "7" on the Mohs scale of hardness, tooth enamel is about "5" (That's softer).

    You would digest about 20 or 30 times more tooth enamel than arsenic, and the daily safe limit would probably be two or three strings of lights (just the arsenic, not the rest).

    So go ahead and eat an LED.

  115. Bob Diaz says:
    February 10, 2011 at 9:11 pm

    “I thought that regular light bulbs used lead at the base of the bulb. … or has this been changed to lead free solder?”

    IMO it doesnt matter.You are not gonna eat the light bulb, are you? Mercury vapour…much worse.

  116. George:

    Now you are saying, gasp, Yttrium \? Just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse. Cerium? Ouch! Lawyers, pay attention! Grad students looking for grants? Here is a goldmine—just link Cerium to blue earlobe syndrome in hamsters, and voila! —Instant career on the staff of the Environmental Defense Fund at $200K/annum.

    Seriously, I know these little fiascos are here to stay. I just added a Rare Earth ETF in my investment portfolio. China is cornering the market on the Rare Earths as we speak, and the costs of these little beauties will go up much higher, as will the costs of the LEDs.

    Once we have installed the fixtures in our homes to drive them, they have us by the leotards! Ka-ching!

  117. That’s part of why LEDs don’t scare me, Scott. Another is that they do not break easily when you drop them. I’ve probably breathed more than my share just soldering/rremoving the little ssurface mount buggers onto/from PCBs.

    I just happen to prefer light from a soft white incandescent bulb for personal use (flourescents give me a headache, LEDs aare too “pure”.)

    Mark

  118. Scott Covert says:
    February 11, 2011 at 10:31 am

    Arsenic at 0.8%! That is 8,000 ppm! Or 8 million ppb!

    I am not saying any of these levels of As, Hg, Pb are really toxic. I know these things are safe unless you wallow in them.

    The people on this board are just smarter than the average bear, and they do not have legal and regulatory axes to grind. But if you can measure these elements at any level (and elements do not go away!) in the environment, and they are in the future deemed to be unsafe by the EPA and the Henry Nasaltov Waxmans of the world, then they become legally toxic.

  119. All I’d like to say is – Thank God – for the incandescent light bulb I was using in my lawn light. Due to the recent snowfall the plastic on the top of the lamp had cracked and the top knot of the lamp had broken off and fallen in on the light bulb. When I went out to check on it the bulb flashed and cracked open on me. If this had been a CFL bulb I would have had a toxic mercury spill out on my front lawn at that point. Instead, I could merely fish out the old bulb and get it replaced. No problem.

    So why would we ever choose to get rid of a reliable (and necessary) convenience such as incandescent lighting? Don’t get me wrong. I’ve got other types of bulbs that I use. CFL’s, halogens. But they each have a place. For me, I don’t want a bulb that could be a major problem if it cracked under harsh environmental conditions.

  120. I used to “vaporize” LED’s by shorting them across the terminals of a 9-volt battery. The heat generated would shoot little pieces of colored plastic all over the house.

    Not so sure I could do that with these, though.

  121. We have to get some terms straight.

    Carbon is pretty innocuous stuff, unless it is in a fine powder (soot) and you snuff it, and get it in your lungs; where it will irritate the hell out of you. CO or carbon monoxide is toxic, and it will kill you if you get it in your lungs. CO2 is carbon dioxide, and it is not toxic, unless you ingest enough of it to displace the oxygen to where you suffocate; it also trigegrs an involuntary breathing if you get oo much in your lungs, as in holding yourt breath.

    So the 90 freely available elements are not necesarily by themsleves highly toxic; but in combonations they can be, Nitrogen, Carbon even Hydrogen in moderation are not particularly harmful; but if you combine them into HCN and take a good whiff of that; you will die a horrible death; ask the Jim Jones followers.

    LEDS do not contain Arsenic; they might contain Gallium Arsenide. Both Gallium and Arsenic are toxic; Gallium Arsenide is not. It is a compact crystal that forms the cubic lattice Zinc Blende structure (ZnO); That’s the very same lattice that when formed in a single element like carbon is called “diamond”. It’s a flaming rock for heaven sake. Phosphorous is also toxic and flammable or even inflammable; but Gallium Phosphide is neither flammable nor toxic. Adn you can mix those two crystals in almost any ratio to make a GaAs(1-x)Px mixed crystal, that is also non toxic and non flammable.

    Gallium Nitride on the other hand does not normally form the cubic zinc blende crystal; and trying to force it to do that yields a crystal that is so defective, you can hardly get any light our of it.

    The breakthrough in Blue (and white) LED technology, came when Shuji Nakamura at Nichia in Japan, decided to let GaN grow in its preferred Wurzite crystal structure, which is hexagonal instead of cubic. The Zinc Blende (diamond) and Wurzite structures differ in that both are composed of two interlocking regular Tetrahedrons (inverted relative to each other, where every atom is in the middle of the other tetrahedron. For Diamonde and GaAs, those two tetrahedrons have their triangular bases rotated 60 degrees from each other. In Wurzite the two base triangles are parallel to each other; and that gives a hexagonal crystal such as is formed by Sapphire, or Silicon Carbide.

    Both SiC and Sapphire (Aluminum oxide (sandpaper)) hasve been used as substrates for BLue LEDs in GaN, and InGaN, or even InGaAlN.

    The elements may be toxic; the compounds may not be; or verse vicea as the case may be.

    There isn’t anything; even Oxygen, that is not toxic at some exposure level. for Oxygen, the toxic level is as low as five times normal vapor pressure, as every scuba diver knows.

  122. I love these kinds of topic… as usual the final authority is from George E. Smith.

    I’m entertained by the “Mr. Watts, be responsible” posts demonstrating how to confuse, befuddle, and exaggerate, while simultaneously showing the incorrect use of anecdotal data to drive an agenda.

    I can’t even imagine the kind of muddled thinking that would lead someone to write about the chemical hazards of LEDs. As repeatedly stated here, the actual quantity of potentially harmful materials is insanely small, and difficult to even get to. The only potential hazard is going to be at the manufacturing facility where materials are stored in quantity.

    And George E. Smith mentions something I’ve been explaining to people for a while now… white LEDs use phosphorus, which is the main reason they have a lifetime while red, yellow and greed LEDs from the 60s and 70s are still illuminating to this day.

    The invention of the Blue LED and eventually White deserve proper recognition since they were something of a holy grail for a long time. The first white LED I bought was over $10, but today their very existence means practical solar powered lighting in remote poverty stricken regions.

    I will also never understand why so many people are so against landfill sites. You dig a hole, you pile crap into it, you cover it up and let it sit for a few years, then you build industrial parks on top. What could be easier? In 5000 years, archaeologists will applaud our foresight in providing them snapshots of our civilization.

  123. Scott Covert

    “LED Chip is roughly 1mm X 1mm, doped layers are roughly 3 microns thick (Depending on type).
    Arsenic is < 0.8% in doped layers.

    One LED has about 50 mcg arsenic. About what you would find in 50 grams of beef or half that much shrimp."

    Lucky we need about 42 ordinary LEDs to give a fair amount of reading (blueish) light, but of course those 3 W power LEDs are quite good (but they contain more arsenic right, and have shorter life span.)

    The thing is though, come garbage disposal, which I might add is like drainage, 50 grams of meat in a bore hole computes to several hundreds of LEDs. Put another way, it only takes 50 grams of meat to equal the toxic waste of one LED, but it takes 500 LEDs to equal the bore hole fill volume in grams to measure up to one meagre 50 gram steak, which, then, means for every gram of meat we get the toxic waste of 10 LEDs which is, per your calculations, comparable to the toxic waste of 500 grams of meat.

    So I'd rather eat 50 gram meat rather 'an 50 gram LEDs. (It probably take more 'an 500 ordinary LEDs to get 50 grams worth though, but it's friday.) :p

  124. HenryP says:
    February 11, 2011 at 8:23 am

    Henry@RichardVerney.

    A few years ago I was living in Nelspruit (RSA) – we heated the swimming pool with very cheap solar heating – gave us an extra month each side of the normal swimming time.

    Take some 40 metres black hose pipe (standard garden stuff). Lay out in coils on a flat roof (garage ) – north sloping would be better (southern hemisphere solution).

    Now; tap into the re-circ/filter pump with a Y junction (valve it so you can turn i off mid-summer).

    I used to get 15C increase between input & output mid summer (needed to turn off or the pool became a bath …)

    At the time the local swimming pool shops were selling ‘Pool Solar Heater Elements’ for a couple of thousand rand (was still about R12 : £1 ) – they claimed I’d need 6 to 10 units to warm my pool. And they were ugly contraptions about a metre cube.

    A friend having seen my ‘solar heater’ just laid his out on the grass – not quite as good – but got some extra night time warmth from the ground .

    Oh – I didn’t bother ever turning the solar heater off during the night – just during winter – if I remembered……

    Like you; HenryP ; I totally fail to understand why there is so little solar heating in the tropics; I suspect the dead hand of Building Codes; Regulations and the lack of initiative left after a going through what is laughingly called an education system

  125. “”””” 1DandyTroll says:
    February 11, 2011 at 12:29 pm
    Scott Covert

    “LED Chip is roughly 1mm X 1mm, doped layers are roughly 3 microns thick (Depending on type).
    Arsenic is < 0.8% in doped layers.

    One LED has about 50 mcg arsenic. About what you would find in 50 grams of beef or half that much shrimp."

    Lucky we need about 42 ordinary LEDs to give a fair amount of reading (blueish) light, but of course those 3 W power LEDs are quite good (but they contain more arsenic right, and have shorter life span.) """""

    How many times do I have to say it. modern LEDS specially anything that is a 3W lamp, do not contain ANY Arsenic; neither as a light emitting material of a dopant in some other material. The Band gap of GaAs is enough to get near infra-red LEDse mitting at about 900 nm if they are ordinary zinc doped GaAs, which are quite inefficient, and more like 940 nm for the Liquid epi silicon amphoterically doped GaAs which is more efficient, because the emitted wavelength (940 nm) is longer, that the Ga As band edge absorption (900 nm, so the crystal is transparent at 940 nm, which is why they are quite efficient.
    IBM developed amphoteric silicon doped GaAS (liquid epi) around 1966/7. Amphoteric doping means that Silcon is the acceptor dopant on one side of the junction and also the donor ropant on the other side of the junction. Since both silicon levels are relatively deep below the band edge the transition energy is lower which is why oyu get 940 nm IR, instead of the 900 nm band edge radiation.

    Arsenic HAS been used as an alternative to Phosphorous as a dopant in Silicon, to make N-type silicon. Boron is the usual P-type dopant in silicon.

    Depending on the way the crystal is grown, a Gallium Arsenide wafer can be differnt on the two opposite faces. I believe it is the 110 lattice face, that has Arsenic atoms on one side of the wafer, and Gallium atoms on the opposite side (talking cleaved crystal faces here). So the two sides are chemically quite differnt, but you can't tell them apart by eye.

    A problem with all III-V semiconductor processing, as that unlike silicon which is elemental, Ga As or GaP are chemical compounds, and they can dissociate when you heat them. The vapor pressure of Arsenic ove Gallium Arsenide, is about 1 atmospehre at the melting point; so you typically want to do GaAS diffusions at the lowest possible temepratures, and use a sealed system with an overpressure of Arsenic to stop the surface from decomposing.
    For GaP, the phosphorous vapor pressure, at the melting point, is about 35 atmospheres, so to grow Gallium Phosphide crystals, you have to maintain a phosphorous over pressure of about 40-45 atmospheres, so the crystal growing furnace tends to be somewhat bomb like; and needs to be housed in a blast proof room. Thery normally apply the 45 atmospheres of gas pressure over the melt by floating a layer of transparent Boric Oxide on top of the melt, so you can see through it, and watch the crystal grow (by remote TV you dummy ! ) You do not want to be near a GaP crystal puller, when it is operating.

  126. What if we tell these researchers about all the toxic chemicals in the semiconductors in their laptops? Perhaps then they would stay away from computers and quit inflicting such drivel on the rest of us.

  127. bubbagyro says:
    February 11, 2011 at 10:56 am
    From Wiki:

    White LEDs can also be made by coating near ultraviolet (NUV) emitting LEDs with a mixture of high efficiency europium-based red and blue emitting phosphors plus green emitting copper and aluminium doped zinc sulfide (ZnS:Cu, Al).

    Gasp!

  128. I think CodeTech meant “Phosphors” not Phosphorous in his post above.

    If you look at the better designs of white LED lamps, you will normally see a yellow or orange looking domw somewhere inside the “bulb”.

    For example, the 40 Watt equivalent Philips lamp, which uses about seven Watts of electricity, has a frosted white glass bulb same size and shape as a 40 Watt Incandescent; except it has a heavy metal heat sink around the neck area. But inside that frosted globe you can clearly see a yellowish globe about 1/2-2/3 of the diameter of the frosted case. That is the actual cerium doped Yag phosphor, and that is what really lights up when you turn it on; and those ones are instant on.
    Inside that yellow dome is the actual blue 460 nm LED chip, near the centre of that dome. The early ones used to coat the LED chip with the phosphor, but blue light from the chip, that scattered off the phosphor without being absorbed, ended up going back to the chip and getting reabsorbed, since the diode can function as a photodiode for the same wavelength photons. The absorbed blue light creates an opposing current that shuts off part of the forward drive current so you can’t drive it as hard. That’s simply Le Chatalier’s principle in action.

    By putting the phosphor remote from the die, the scattered blue photons still go back right across the dome, but now most of them miss the much smaller chip in the middle of the dome, so they simply go past it, until they hit the phosphor on the opposite side of the dome, and generate more yellow light.

    These are the structural enhancements, that are slowly making white LEDs ever brighter. If you look in your while LED when it is off, and you don’t see anything that is yellow around the central region where the light would be coming from, then you are probably looking at a brain dead LED design.

    Unfortunately most of the makers so far have concentrated on making more spot lamp types rather than spherically radiating “light bulbs like we are used to.

    Both Cree and Phillips do make spherical lamp types, and you can get them in warm whites, that have been red goosed, or 6500 K daylight white.

    And as codetech correctly observed it is the presnce of that phospher that leads to the life degradation. But these problems have been dealt with before in LCD displays and other situations. Poisoning of the phosphors by impurities tends to be the failure mechanisms. These should become less troublesome as time goes on. Of course you still can get the infant mortality failures, as you can see in LED traffic signals; but if they last a year, they usually will last forever; well within the 3:1 climatism fudge factor.

  129. Damn, George E. Smith, where do you find this stuff, my head hurts now! Just joking, it’s all good info.

  130. We have been using a CFL in our shed ever since last summer. They do work fine but when it comes to a cold Minnesota winter, they don’ t like to light! I replaced it with an old trusty incandescent bulb. I have also had a CFL blow out instantly when turned on! I pulled a new one right from the package, put it in the lamp and turned it on, it instantly “popped” and smelled of burning electronics…

    I have lived here in Minnesota all my life and never heard anyone call regular light bulbs “heat globes”.

  131. I am curious to know what happens to used CFLs once disposed of. How exactly are they treated when returned to the shop/recycle centre. Since they contain mercury etc they must surely be handled with great care. Is the mercury reused. Where do they finally end up?

  132. George E. Smith says:

    I think CodeTech meant “Phosphors” not Phosphorous in his post above.

    I stand corrected.

    And I agree, challenges will always be met, the white LED will revolutionize all aspects of illumination, more than most people will ever probably be consciously aware of. The cheap 10c white LEDs I got from china were great… for about 5 hours, after which they tinged blue and faded to almost no visible light. I also have a white LED night light downstairs that’s been going strong for years with no visible degradation.

    I look forward to self-illuminating ceiling and wall panels, soft ambient lighting with adjustable colors, all the possibilities that a cold, safe LED light can provide.

    CFLs, on the other hand, are a complete waste of effort in almost every way. I despise the light quality, the complexity, the materials usage, the flickering, the sound, everything. They’re ugly and harmful. How could anyone possibly support replacing incandescent bulbs with these things???

  133. “I have lived here in Minnesota all my life and never heard anyone call regular light bulbs “heat globes”.”

    I am sorry the humor went over your head.

  134. While I don’t wouldn’t wish to dissuade anyone from doing experiments and taking measurements, I do wonder if the researchers discussed their concerns about “toxic” LEDs with the Electrical Engineering Faculty at UC Irving? I’m sure they could have provided their colleagues with a list of materials used in LEDs and saved them from a lot of work.

    Will this group of researchers also grind up their computers, cell phones and other personal electronics and inform the public of the “toxic” content of these devices? I need to know if dropping my laptop will release a cloud of “toxic” vapor. /sarc rant off

    Don’t worry about kids eating LEDs though, they’re too busy eating microchips…

  135. “Ogunseitan said that breaking a single light and breathing fumes would not automatically cause cancer, but could be a tipping point on top of chronic exposure to another carcinogen. And – noting that lead tastes sweet – he warned that small children could be harmed if they mistake the bright lights for candy.”

    Holy mother of Bozo! If I see the phrase, “tipping point” one more time, I’m going to scream.

    And how far do people have to reach to rationalize something to come up with something as stupid as children mistaking bright Christmas lights for candy.

  136. “”””” Calvi36 says:
    February 11, 2011 at 2:35 pm
    Damn, George E. Smith, where do you find this stuff, my head hurts now! Just joking, it’s all good info. “””””

    Who said anything about “finding”. How about “knowing” ?

    I first got my feet wet in LEDs in 1965, at Monsanto corp Central Research labs in St Louis Mo. For them it was a few million dollars of exotic materials business; namely the III-V semiconductoir materials from which most LEDs are made. I actually first got involved doing Optics for packaging; but then later on doing driver circuits for red laser diodes. Monsanto had red GaASP laser diodes in 1966; but they only worked at liquid nitrogen temperatures, and at very high current densities. Try making a 100 Amp peak current pulse that is only 100 nsec wide (or the laser would melt. The laser chips were about5 mils wide and thick, and maybe 20-30 mils long, so astronomical current densities.
    The original work on the GaAsP led system came out of the University of Illinois in Urbana under the eye of Professor Nick Holonyak; who in my view, is the most deserving candidate; who has not yet won a Nobel Physics prize. His students now staff the labs at places like Cree Research and Phillips Lumileds; Lincoln Labs, and some other Eastern folks.

    Later on I got into an LED startup company, which at one time was the largest company in the world in LEDS; but we never had any equity funding; financed it out of our own pockets. In the heyday of the LED display hand held calculator, we had 72 crystal growing furnaces, making GaAs crystals about every three days, using the Gradient Freeze, Horizontal Bridgeman method of simultaneous synthesis and crystal growth. Each ingot weighed about 700 grams; and the profit from the sale of that material paid completely for the capital cost of the whole furnace. We were about to gear up to 144 furnaces (which we also built ourselves), when I made a breakthrough in snap on (non-immersed magnifier lens optics, which about doebled the viewing angle and allowed higher magnifiation. That crashed the need for more bigger monolithic LED chips; so we scrapped the expansion plans. In the gradient freeze process, you have to raise one end of the furnace (the colder end where the seed crystal was) while you heat up the ingrediants, and synthesize the Ga AS from 7-9s purity Arsenic and gallium. Then you lower the end, so the molten GaAS finally touches the end of the seed crystal, which is at one end of the Quartz boat, resting on powdered quartz sand. the you start lowering the Temperature slowly over 2 1/2 days, so that the crystal grows from the seed as the freezing zone moves along the crystal. To jack the end of the furnace up, and lower it again, we used ordinary scissors jackls from Sears Roebuck nearby. Like I say; we built the whole shebang oursleves, and also built our own Epitaxial GaAsP deposition reactors; including building the controllers for all of that. To lower the Temperature slowly on the crystal furnaces, we used an ordinary silicon diffusion furnace controller, whcih cost about $300, and we mounted a $7 Synchron clock timer motor on the front panel which was used to belt drive the ten turn helipot dial that turned the set point temperature down.

    Monsanto used a $35,000 computer controlelr to do the same task as our 47 motor, which is why they thought we had one epi reactor and mayb four crystal growers; whereas we had 16 epi reactors, and 72 crystal furnaces; all of which we built ourselves.

    We lost our market edge when the game shifted from GaAs substrates to Gallium Phosphide because we couldn’t afford that 1/2 million dollar high pressure bomb needed to grow GaP. We finally got out of it around 1980 with the remains becoming part of Siemens corp.

    It was in 1966, maybe 67 while I was still doing the opticvs at Monsanto, that IBM developed the silicon doped liquid epi high efficiency gaAs infra red process. I desinged an optical package for that device to go into a card reader that IBM wanted.

    It’s a very diferent game today. we used to turn out the room lights and look through a microscope to see the dull red glow coming from a piece of a wafer. Now they have to conform to some LED specific radiation hazards (eye exposure) requirements.
    The AlInGap yellow ones are spectacularly bright; and that is the hardest color to make, since it goes from grellow to gold in only 5 nm wavelength change.

    The future application of LEDs will be different from current lighting; to exploit the properties of LEDS’

    And they are not likely to poison your neighbor’s cat.

  137. Illogical thinking over the misguided anthropogenic CO2 driven global warming thesis is illustrated by the advocacy of the low energy light bulb as a means to reduce energy consumption.
    As a heating engineer, this is subject that I have a professional knowledge about. When we calculate a cooling load for a building we combine the total heat input into the building, the occupants, the electrical appliances including the lighting and the solar gain these inputs all combine to create the cooling requirement, in this case low energy lighting is a logical selection.
    However in the Northern Hemisphere the major use of our domestic lighting coincides with our domestic heating requirements and as such incandescent light bulbs make little or no difference to the energy used. This is because with modern heating control, typically thermostatic radiator valves; the heating system is closely regulated to the heating requirement of the occupied space.
    The heating requirement for any space is a function of the heat input to the space, the required space temperature, the heat loss through the structure and the external ambient temperature. Therefore if it takes 1kw to heat a space this might come from the occupants (assuming 2 people) 2x90watts – the heat from incandescent lighting 4x 20watts (assuming 4 x 40 watt bulbs) and 740 watts from the heating. If the lighting is then changed to low energy bulbs the equation is changed and becomes, the occupants 2x90watts – the low energy lighting 4x 0watts, requiring 820 watts to be supplied from the heating, has any energy been saved? NO
    All that has been acheived is move the energy usage from one system to another ie from the electricity bill and onto the gas / oil bill.

  138. Peter (commenting on my spray about lack of LEAD in a LED):

    I’m well aware of the ROHS directive. LEDs for domestic and industrial lighting do not qualify for the exemptions, including the solder used for assembly of the the LED onto whatever else. Flight control systems and medical devices, perhaps. Some infrastructure, maybe. But domestic stuff, no. The ROHS directive applies across the board, not just to electronic components. So the stuff the components are assembled into (the next higher level assembly… and so on up through to the finished product).

    ————–

    Angry Exile (and others) re the Halogen lamps: The more modern halogens don’t have so many problems as they used to. Its a good idea if you dim them, to run them at full brightness now and again. But even then with modern ones, its not such a big deal.

    ————–

    Jeff Alberts:

    I have been using CFLs for over 15 years (they do save me money on my power bill, and did even when I was paying $10 each for them). I have taken to writing the installation date on the base of each lamp when it goes in, and have done this for 10 years now. My observations are that the lamp quality has decreased as they became mandatory and the prices went down (volumes shipped went up). The claimed lifetime of about 3-5 x that of incandescent (ie about up to 5000 hours) is generally not met. I do have one lamp which is now so dim its close to useless but its the freak – it has been used for about 5-8 hours every day for well over 6 years. The norm, though, is that they last about 12 months, which in running hours is about 2000 hours. Not what is claimed at all. I have also had the CFLs explode when turned on, shattering glass and muck all over the floor. A quick poll at a meeting of lighting engineers revealed about 30% of the participants have had something similar. They are built to a price, and you get what you pay for.

  139. “”””” Billy Liar says:
    February 11, 2011 at 2:10 pm
    bubbagyro says:
    February 11, 2011 at 10:56 am
    From Wiki:

    White LEDs can also be made by coating near ultraviolet (NUV) emitting LEDs with a mixture of high efficiency europium-based red and blue emitting phosphors plus green emitting copper and aluminium doped zinc sulfide (ZnS:Cu, Al).

    Gasp! “””””

    There’s a problem with the near UV LED approach, and CFLs have the same problem. Both of those have to first produce the short wavelength UV radiation, that gets absorbed by the Phosphor; so instead of making a 460-470 nm blue photon which is an efficient part of a white light spectrum, you have to create a higher photon energy UV photon. when that excites the phosphor, the diffence in photon energy is lsot as heat; so you prefer to have the blue photon as close to the desired blue component as possible.

    Of course these other systmes were developed to try and get around the Nichia Patents on the Cerium Yag phosphor.

    But the whole thing is somewhat materials constrained; and for beauroidiots to complain that the components are toxic, is stupid.

    Tell them to come up with a replacement for Oxygen for us to breathe so we don’t get Oxygen poisoning when we dive deep on ordinary air.

    I routinely tell all the green weenies at the whole foods, and organic food stores that they shouldn’t eat organic foods, because they all have carbon in them; which is toxic.

  140. The wasted energy of incondesent bulbs is the portion that creates heat as opposed to light. If the heater is on, incendesent bulbs are essentially 100% efficient. This gets no attention. The Northern Europeans have no reason to use these bulbs on an energy efficiency basis.

  141. I wanted to try a few LEDs to replace my 60 watt incandescent bulbs outside, but I couldn’t find any that looked like they were made for that function. And they are expensive.

    And a little bit of OT. In Germany they call light bulbs “gluhbirne” (with an umlaut over the u). That means “glowing pear”.

  142. Many states have their own “safe” level for mercury contamination, something around 300 billionths of a gram per cubic meter. One CFL breaking in your house is 6 times that amont of contamination.

  143. Another source says that the mercury level is 300 times safety standards:

    Breaking a single compact fluorescent bulb on the floor can spike mercury vapor levels in a room – particularly at a child’s height – to over 300 times the EPA’s standard accepted safety level.

    Furthermore, for days after a CFL has been broken, vacuuming or simply crawling across a carpeted floor where the bulb was broken can cause mercury vapor levels to shoot back upwards of 100 times the accepted level of safety.

    Following the study, the Maine DEP made eight new recommendations for usage and cleanup of CFLs, including the recommendation to not even use the bulbs in carpeted rooms where children, infants or pregnant women live. The likelihood of breakage, near impossibility of cleanup and risk of prolonged exposure, the study concluded, are just too great.

    Read more: 1 broken bulb pushes contamination to 300 times EPA limits http://www.wnd.com/?pageId=72133#ixzz1DiwctQbY

  144. I will only mention three interesting articles.
    1. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1340938/Eco-bulbs-health-hazard-babies-pregnant-women-mercury-inside.html
    The Health Protection Agency [UK Government] says a broken CFL is unlikely to cause health problems. However, it advises people to ventilate a room where a light has smashed and evacuate it for 15 minutes.
    Householders are also advised to wear protective gloves while wiping the area of the break with a damp cloth and picking up fragments of glass. The cloth and glass should be placed in a plastic bag and sealed.
    CFLs are not supposed to be put in the dustbin, whether broken or intact, but taken as hazardous waste to a recycling centre.

    Does every user know and practise these prescriptions?
    2. http://notrickszone.com/2010/11/23/green-police-orders-confiscation-of-enviro-contraband/
    Recently, the two German engineers quickly sold 4000 of the climate-killing bulbs as “heat balls”, and so they ordered up another 40,000 pieces from China. To get them through German customs, they declared the bulbs as “heat balls” – miniature heaters that could be powered by a standard fluorescent light bulb fixture.
    Read the reaction of the Department of Environment!
    3. A summary of the health effects of LEDs: http://www.afssa.fr/Documents/PRES2010CPA14EN.pdf
    What are the risks of the artificial light of LEDs for our health?

  145. I’m not a fan of CFLs. Cities want people to trade mercury thermometers in for digital, and then green expos push boxes of CFLs.

    For emergency supplies I’m planning on olive oil burners in handled mason jars- a fuel I can dip my bread into in the meantime. I’m also waiting for Humdinger to market their turbineless windbelts (using aeroelastic flutter) for home use. An application of windbelts that I haven’t heard discussed yet, that I think would be ideal in a power outage, is if the blower fan would power it’s own battery backup. Please, someone create this product.

  146. In producing light from electricity, measured in lumens/watt, the BEST high brightness white LEDs are about 50% more efficient than a fluorescent tube, CFL or straight line. They also cost many times more on a lumen/$ basis. Fluorescent tubes are about four times more efficient than an equivalent light output incandescent light bulb. A halogen bulb is 15% or so more efficient than an incandescent, mainly because they run the filament hotter.

    ALL florescent tubes contain mercury – it is required to generate the ionized mercury vapor gas that generates the UV light that hits the phosphors which then makes the white light. The amount of mercury in a GOOD CFL is less than what is in an average size amalgamated mercury filling in one of your teeth. I don’t know how much is in a 4 or 8 foot tube but since they are physically much bigger and higher wattage I would guess they have more. However, they’ve been around for 50 years or so and there never was a “mercury scare” and they break a lot easier when dropping one than a CFL does . Cheap (Chinese) CFLs usually have more mercury, sometimes 4-5 times as much, than a CFL made by a major and reputable MFR like Philips – even if they are made in China too.

    Turning any fluorescent light on and off shortens the light of the fixture. It is not so much a problem with the bulb but the electronics. The ubiquitous 75W incandescent draws 75W of power when operating but since the tungsten filament has a positive temperature coefficient the resistance is lower when cold and thus when it is first turned on the peak in-rush is about 700W (about 7A @ 120VAC operation) . That’s why incandescent bulbs almost always burn out with a FLASH when first turned on.

    Fluorescent lights also have an in-rush current but it is in the electronic control, called a ballast. The in-rush in a ballast comes from charging up the input filter capacitor on the AC side. It is limited some what by a negative temperature coefficient thermistor on the AC input that has higher resistance when cold.

    The big fluorescent lights have ballasts made by Philips (Advance)., GE and other MFRs who, for the most part, know how to make a reliable ballast. There isn’t much room in a CFL for the ballast and they are low cost so their ballasts simply just aren’t as good and they use a smaller (and cheaper) rated thermistor that doesn’t limit the in-rush current as much. As a result they may have an in-rush in the 30 -50A range with a 120VAC input. Double that for a 230VAC light. The in-rush is hard on the electrolytic input capacitor which is already the number 1 failure component in the ballast. Put an even cheaper, lower quality capacitor out there and the CFLs will fail a lot sooner than expected, especially when turned on/off a lot. (They are not rated for how many on/off cycles they can tolerate only continuous on life.)

    Also, the light quality of a good CFL (and any fluorescent) is also much better than the cheap CFLs. The bottom line is that you get what you pay for. HINT: write the date the CFL was purchased on the base of the CFL bulb. Then take it back to Walmart when it doesn’t last any where near the advertised “10,000 hours.”

    BTW, you’ll often hear people saying not to turn florescent lights on and off because doing so wastes electricity. There really is no waste because the “waste” is in the in-rush which is simply charging up the capacitor where the energy is then used to power the light. Regardless, most of the in-rush is in the first half AC cycle, with less in the second half and less still in the third half cycle. By the end of the second full AC cycle the input capacitor is charged up and the input current has dropped to the operating current. Thus the extra power “waste” is only for 1/60 of a second or so and is negligible even after a few seconds when averaged out.

    Are there toxic things in LEDs? Yes but they are in cased in nearly indestructible plastic (which is probably toxic too.) Anybody who says kids will get poisoned by eating LEDs like candy is either an environmental wacko or has some really dumb kids where evolutionary selection should come in to play. Besides, they eat dirt too which contains toxic materials. Should ban dirt too?

    In any case, you can be sure that whatever toxic compounds are in LEDs there will be a lot more in cheap Chinese made LEDs. Probably in the plastic too. If they put toxic waste poison in dog and baby food you can bet they put it in LEDs too. FYI: I work for a company that has been manufacturing things in China for 30 years. We know the kind of sh** they do to save a penny.

    Bottom line: good quality CFLs (from reliable, name brand MFRs) are a viable replacement and substitution for incandescent bulbs when you re looking to save money on electricity and bulbs. The mercury is really a non-issue. If they were really serious about it, they’d ban the bigger fluorescent bulbs. (And if they were really serious about AGW, they ban golf courses – more water vapor…). LEDs are really only viable for high maintenance lighting requirements (street lights etc) or if you really want to save electricity and don’t mind a 10-15 year pay back.

  147. The anti-LED rant is patent nonsense. No child is going to lick a broken LED Christmas light because lead tastes sweet, even if one did somehow manage to crush one of these sturdy little buggers — a solid blob of clear plastic totally surrounding the LED element.

    I use them to provide background lighting in the main cabin of my sailboat-home due to their low energy consumption — a couple of strings of ultra-bright white LED ‘pixie’ lights evenly lights up the whole cabin while we use directed reading lights for reading. Love ‘em.

    We are switching to LED ‘spotlights’ in our reading lamps as well, as they use 1/10th the electricity of incandescents, all 12 volts dc. Pricey, but so far we have not needed to replace any, and don’t expect to do so for years and years. They are rated up to 18 volts and we use them in the 12-13 volt range, extending the lives of their electronics .

  148. I dont know about LED, for sure they do not wotk for human eyes as well as filament bulbs (I use a LED for seeing in small spaces to fit components but when it is tiny, and hard to see, I use a conventional flashlight and I can se better. CFLs are good in select use, somewhere where it is on in the morning and off last thing they are good, do the job and use less power, anywhere else they use more power and short life, you just cannot keep switching them on and off! as for envriomental issues they are a disaster, not that it is an issue but is there comparisom of “carbon” footprint for a CFL and a filament bulb? I suspect any power savings are eaten up with the hugely increased manufacture cost. Even the use of tin solder is suspect, it whiskeres and ruins the circuit, matbe we need indepenent investigation of all eco friendly ideas, I doubt many stand up, from the cat converters to wind power to light bulbs the green agenda has to lie its way in.

  149. nemesis says:
    I am curious to know what happens to used CFLs once disposed of. …Where do they finally end up?

    I would guess that most of them end up in landfills.

    Harry the Hacker says:
    I have been using CFLs for over 15 years (they do save me money on my power bill, and did even when I was paying $10 each for them). I have taken to writing the installation date on the base of each lamp when it goes in, and have done this for 10 years now. My observations are that the lamp quality has decreased as they became mandatory and the prices went down (volumes shipped went up).

    Amazing how simple economics works out – reduce competition, and you get a corresponding reduction in quality. Who’da thunk?

  150. So in the interest of science; and also to save my bank balance, I went out and purchased a bunch of LED LAMPS last weekend.

    I bought several of the phillips Brand 40 Watt Equivalent bulbs, that I mentioned before, whcih are specced at 450 Lumens and 8 Watts of electricity (more on this later). These were from Home Depot; haven’t found them elsewhere yet. HD aslo peddles an ECOSMART brand of bulbs, described as “assembled in the USA” and distributed by HD. I’ll find out who makes them.

    I bought their version of the 40 Watt lamp and it is rated at 429 Lumnes and 9 Watts of juice, so slightly below the phillips numbers. The bulb looks as well built and rugged as the Phillips and it works virtually identically. I’m happy with either one, and they were the exact same price $21.97 each. So we now have six of the 40 watt bulbs, five of them Phillips.
    Phillips also had a smaller spherical bulb 15 Watt equivalent, that uses 3W of electricity. I got one of thsoe for about $12 and that is now playing hide and seek in my refrigerator. Very nice lamp; and should last forever in the frig.

    I also splurged ant spent $37 97 on the phillips “60 Watt” equivalent bulb. This has three striking hot orange dome segments, as part of the outer envelope; and it is those three pieces which light up bright white. Very nice lamp, and it currently is in a dimmable fixture. It consumes 12 Electrical Watts. I’m going to pull out the dimmer, so that I can then install the non-dimmable decorative tear dop Phillips bulbs that use about 2-3 Watts each. Tehy aren’t instant on, which is why they aren’t dimmable. There’s about a 1/2 second turn on delay; but that is less annoying than the ten minute warm up delay of CFLs.

    Note that both white LEDs and CFLs generate some of their light from phosphors; all of it in the case of the CFLs, since the mercury discharge is producing UV radiation, which excites the phosphors. So both have bulb lifetimes that depend somewhat on degradation of the Phosphor. Same problem as CRTs and the like. This is NOT a big problem for ordinary fluorescents, and shouldn’t be with CFLs and less so for LEDs. The fluorescents of all types also get an ion bombardment of the phospher fromt he residual gas in the bulb; and this is the likely source of much of the phosphor degradation.. Not a big factor in my book.

    But CFLs will always end up less efficient, since they start from a high photon energy UV and waste a good part of that getting down to the blue region which is the first really useful part of the spectrum. So the blue sourced LEDs of the cerium doped Yag type, are likely to be right up near the top of the efficiency chain.

    Now I mentioned previously that 400 Lumens per Watt is a theoretical maximum. (for a source C white light). Note carefully that is the conversion from radiant EM emission is Watts, to Luminous equivalent in Lumens; so it is “Lumens per radiant Watt.”
    For an incandescent lamp, which is basically a resistive heater, virtually 100% of the electric energy input is converted to thermal radiation; which is broad band, so the efficiency in Lumens (light) per Watt (electricity) is pretty much the same as the “efficacy” which is Lumens (light) per Watt (radiant Energy). So fromt he consumer point of view that is what matters; how mcuh light do I get from my electrical buck.

    Now the peak of the “efficacy curve” otherwise known as the “Photopic Luminosity” curve is 680 Lumens per watt at 555 nm wavelength which is a green color. That is for a monochromatic light source; not a white leamp. The 4oo number is the highest you can achieve for a white lamp that matches Illuminant C, which is some sort of Standard.

    Now the 100 Lumens per Watt, that I mentioned as alab result for white LEDS, is actually Lumens of white light per Watt of total radiant energy emission; so there’s a conversion form Watts of Electricity in the radiation out.

    For single color LEDs, it is fairly simple; the best ones have essentially 100% internal Quantum efficiency; whcih means that every elctron or hole that crosses the junction results in the emission of a photon (internal to the crystal. Clever optical packaging has extracted as much as 58% or so of that light giving a 58% external quantum efficiency (the current record mightt be higher than that.
    The emission energy for the more efficient typses on transparent substrates, is pretty much band gap emission; and the material bandgap is not too different from the diode forward Voltage. So you have Voltage times electrons per second, at the elctric end of things; and you have pretty much the same electron volts of Photon energy (2 eV photons are about 650 nm red) times the photons per second which is close to the electron rate; so as a rough estimate, the radiant energy Watts, is quite close to the Electric energy consumed. Now bear in mind that that is for the primary radiation from the LED semiconductor. By the time the Phosphors do their thing, there will be some additional losses.

    The the lamps have to use a driver scircuit to control the drive current qaccording to some algorithm the manufacturer chooses; allowing for ambient Temperature and such.

    It turns out theat the simplest way to drive an LED off the AC, is to pair them back to back (parallel) and then put a big capacitor in series with them. The current will be C dV/dt,s o you figure out the Voltage maximum slope rate, and find an AC capacitor type of the right number fo microfarads, and their is virtually no extraneous loss of power, as would occur in a resistive current limiter.

    Well the Power company is not going to like you doing that to your whole house, because remeber that that current will be purely capacitative, so the power factor is going to go totally haywire. Maybe if you run the right number of electric motors and other inductive toys and gizmos, you can correct that. But for a string of 20 mA lamps to make a Merry Christmas sign, I don’t think that PG&E will have a fit if you capacitively drive that.

    I did check out some other LED lamp brands; some of them made in the land of Rare Earths; but I didn’t buy any. Sylvania has some comparable lamsp also made offshore. Everybody charges that $22 for the 40Watt lamp.

    You can find 6500 Kelvin white LED lamps, if you like looking like the living dead.

    Teh 60 Watt Phillips is a humdinger; but a bit rich for my pocket book; so I’ll stay with the one for the moment. Not at all into spot lighjts;

    And don’t waste your money on the clusters of 397 of 5 mm lamps; other than as toys for the kids; or for them to eat instead of candy; those things are so inefficient; besides being way overpriced.

    The serious players are making some good products. I’m down to my last two CFLs to get rid of.

    I should add; seeing that WUWT is an international watering hole; that I’m sure the big European lighting companies, like Osram, and Siemens, and I know there’s some other biggies whose names I just can’t recall right now; and of course Phillips is European; all are in the hunt with serious Products; that can only get better.

    Now my family can leave the lights on and not have me chasing after them.

    [George you write so much great stuff but please , please I am begging you , won’t you turn on your spell check?]

  151. George E Smith said:

    Well the Power company is not going to like you doing that to your whole house, because remeber that that current will be purely capacitative, so the power factor is going to go totally haywire. Maybe if you run the right number of electric motors and other inductive toys and gizmos, you can correct that. But for a string of 20 mA lamps to make a Merry Christmas sign, I don’t think that PG&E will have a fit if you capacitively drive that.

    Are you saying that they are going to lose money?

    I like that idea :-)

  152. “”””” [George you write so much great stuff but please , please I am begging you , won’t you turn on your spell check?] “””””

    Izzat you Chasmod ? I didn’t know I had a spell checker ! I know Micro$oft WORD has a spell checker; but it only knows 1/10th of the words I use, so it gives all sorts of false spelling errors anyway. What good is that ?

    I do try to re-scan everything I post to eliminate most of the dylsexic spelling flips, that my fingers make; but once in a while, they do slip by.

    MODs have a free rein, open authorisation to make any spelling corrections they wish to on my junque; no questions asked.

    But I will see what I can do to shape up.

    George

  153. “”””” Richard Sharpe says:
    February 14, 2011 at 12:02 pm
    George E Smith said:

    Well the Power company is not going to like you doing that to your whole house, because remeber that that current will be purely capacitative, so the power factor is going to go totally haywire. Maybe if you run the right number of electric motors and other inductive toys and gizmos, you can correct that. But for a string of 20 mA lamps to make a Merry Christmas sign, I don’t think that PG&E will have a fit if you capacitively drive that.

    Are you saying that they are going to lose money?

    I like that idea :-) “””””

    I don’t think that’s what is going to bother them. But they might get concerned about their wiring melting, due to poor power factor.

    In any case LED lighting; unless you light up the whole of Times Square, is not going to have much impact on your total electric bill. (not on mine anyway.)

  154. “”””” Rik Gheysens says:
    February 12, 2011 at 2:18 am
    I will only mention three interesting articles.
    1. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1340938/Eco-bulbs-health-hazard-babies-pregnant-women-mercury-inside.html
    Read the reaction of the Department of Environment!
    3. A summary of the health effects of LEDs: http://www.afssa.fr/Documents/PRES2010CPA14EN.pdf
    What are the risks of the artificial light of LEDs for our health? “””””

    Well if the French are worried about eye exposure to blue light; they should really love the exposure to UV that comes from CFLs when their phosphors fail.

    LED replacement lamps for incandescents; have no more Luminance than do ordinary incandescents. Try looking at the filament of a non diffused Tungsten or quartz halogen Lamp, and see how you like it.

    So go back to whale oil if you don’t like LEDs; but stop treating us the people like we are total idiots. It’s far more dangerous being out on the floor of a disco joint; with it’s flashing strobe lights, and 150 dBm of what substitutes for music these days.

    People today put several KW of audio, into their cars to locate all the rattles in their chassis, while they drive down the road; and they seem to come through that about as stupid as before; so what’s the big deal if they light their oil pan under the car with blue LEDs
    Somebody should point out that Gasoline in a car is dangerous; not to mention smoking while you gas up the car. Come to think of it, the main problem with cigarettes, is that they just don’t kill people fast enough.

    By the way; French people; and most Europeans, don’t smoke anyhow do they ?

  155. Gosh, people…. bimetal contacts themselves fail, I don’t trust them, though I don’t know how conventional traffic light signal switching stays reliable if it does.

    As for different colours failing sooner or later, keep in mind the maturity of the colour technology – red LEDs came first, some of the blue or white depend on phosphors that re-emit desired wavelength. It’s a rapidly evolving technology. Then there’s variations of supplier, batch, etc.

    Good point about giving redundancy with early indication of failure.

    About traffic circles – they are the fad in SW BC these days, most poorly designed (too small – they should not be stuffed into an existing intersection), with confusion over protocol (some people have claimed in print that the rule is to yield to the right as usual, others to yield to traffic already in the circle). Seem more political cutesy than “traffic engineering”. They have existed for at least half a century in western Canada, albeit few locations, and worked fine as they were properly sized. In England they seem over-used – joining five road surfaces and having dual lanes in the circle, as in the west end of Cheltenham, doesn’t work IMO.

    Some people design things that just work well, others don’t. For example, flashing pedestrian-operated countdown-timed lights in Richmond B.C. are confusing to drivers, whereas those in a suburb of Seattle WA are quickly grasped. (Speaking of reliability, the in-surface flashing lights fell out of favour in SW B.C. because of failure rate and repair cost. I don’t recall the gory details but note that salt is used in B.C. but not in WA state.)

    BTW Charles, the title “LED Stoplights Failing in Winter” is a poor choice as it does not distinguish between LEDs and the installation of them which is the actual problem.

  156. Peter_Dtm says

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/02/10/can-we-have-our-regular-old-light-bulbs-back-now/#comment-596794

    Sorry I took so long to come back to you. My pool was 30 degrees C today, I am heating with these sheets that one puts on the roof . I have 5 sheets. The added advantage is that this cools the house…So your pool is warm and your house is cool.
    I also have a solar geyser on my roof. The panels and the whole system basically works like the opposite of a radiator in your car. It saves 40% on my elctricity bill as I have free hot water, most of the time. The geyser is also on a timer switch for electricity for those days when there was no sun.
    I recently visited LA (sunny California) and I was most puzzled to find that they do not seem to know these systems, or at least it is not widely in use. It is expensive to put in. However, due electricity shortage in South Africa, our (government run) electricity co. is giving subsidies if you install a solar geyser. I think that is something the US government must consider doing as well …..

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