Win Some, Lose a Lot

Saving Energy May Be
Harmful To Your Brain

When the old-fashioned filament light bulbs were officially retired from widespread use, after about 100 years, they were also vilified for a plethora of dangers to our health and the environment.
Among some of their short-comings, experts pointed to their light, deemed too yellowish; their excessive energy consumption, and the high flammability of their design, basically a burning filament inside a thin glass case.
Never mind that they remain in use throughout the world. Politics, the economy, bad-timing, even their shady uncle Bob, everything seems to conspire to prevent the possible benefits of new technologies from spreading out to impoverished countries, or so they say. But that’s another story.
The point is, they may have been unceremoniously dumped, but there was one thing they were never associated with: cancer.
Cue the new, flashy, pig-tailed light bulbs, environmentally safe, and since they were built to last for years, ready to save a lot of your hard-earned dough too. A seemingly perfect household product design specifically not to harm nature.
Or are they? It didn’t take long for a group of German scientists to come up with a smoking gun of sorts. They conducted studies and concluded that the new light fixture should not be left on for extended periods, particularly near someone’s head, as they emit poisonous materials when switched on. In other words, the big C began to be mentioned in the same sentence as the new bulbs.
That’s because tests showed that several carcinogenic chemicals and toxins are released when the environmentally-friendly compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) are switched on, including phenol, naphthalene and styrene, and that a form of electrical smog develops around these lamps.
How come only now we’re finding out about all of that, after all the endorsements that environmental groups and whole governments issued in support of the adoption of the new technology, is something to be argued until someone, well, turns the light on the whole issue.
The old bulbs had to go, no one argues about that. But from the beginning we seem to remember claims that the new ones were prone to mercury leaking, had been linked to higher breast cancer rates if used late at night (what good would they be if they couldn’t be used at night, anyway?), and were somehow connected to increased migraines.
Some researchers now say they could even cause skin problems. They are not saying but that’s quite disturbing. What, have the developers of the new technology been so eager to emulate certain qualities of natural sunlight, that they overplayed their hand and wound up creating a monster capable of giving you melanoma? No way, we’re the ones going overboard here. Still, at the end of the day, the picture of an environmentally-friendly light bulb don’t seem neither clear nor friendly any longer.
All such claims were dutifully rejected by the industry, of course, which always insisted that they are and have always been perfectly safe. As for diminishing sales, they are just a consequence of the longer life spans of the CFLs. Well, people are obviously more concerned about the span of their own lives than that of the bulbs.
Thus we come to a point we all hate about a story that is still in progress: what now? In case you have jokes about light bulbs and care to share them with us, go ahead. It’s not that there’s a better moral lesson in there somewhere. Or that there’s a ready alternative to be adopted by 70% percent of the human population who dwell in places plugged to electric grids.
As a matter of fact, if we didn’t have these bulbs, old or new, in such proximity to our own brains, as we speak, we bet we wouldn’t be wasting our beauty discussing what to do with them.
But in reality, we do. So we don’t know about you, but while they discuss what’s next in the ever evolving realm of new inventions designed to make our lives brighter, but that frequently turn out to be much darker, we’ll be turning our lights off for now.
As for those impoverished nations, etc, etc, well, they may as well get the much advanced light bulbs now, after it’s becoming clear they’ll need some kind of replacement in the world that rules the world. Unless somebody has another bright idea.
Oh, and say goodbye to your beloved night lamp too. It turns out that even this innocent bulb that just helped you read this post, may want to kill you tonight.

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