Whose bright idea was the lightbulb ban?
We Canadians aren't too happy having anything forced upon us and the proposal to ban all incandescent lightbulbs by 2012 doesn't sit too well with many of us. How many Canadians does it take to change a lightbulb? Hard to tell. But there have been some very strong feelings against the new energy-saving fluorescents voiced by some in submissions to the federal Department of Environment. I'm all for saving energy but I have to say that I have always been bothered by headaches caused by fluorescent lights, and the new spiral ones are just as bad for this as the old tubes.
Jack Branswell, Canwest News Service
Published: Sunday, March 09, 2008
The federal government's plan to phase out incandescent light bulbs isn't such a bright idea, according to Canadians who wrote to the federal Environment Department.
Environmentalists think the plan to ban the energy-sucking incandescent bulbs by 2012 makes perfect sense.
But in 33 pages of feedback on the plan from Canadians to the federal government, people were almost unanimous in panning the initiative. They didn't like being forced to make the change, argued the new bulbs wouldn't fit their lamp shades, worried about more mercury being released into the environment, and said they had major health concerns.
While Keith Stewart, a climate change analyst with the World Wildlife Fund-Canada, says the switch to more efficient light bulbs is a great idea, he says the government hasn't clearly explained the issue to Canadians.
"The decision was made very quickly at the political level," he said. "It was the right thing to do, but they didn't have their FAQs (frequently asked questions) in place for people who were commenting," he added.
In the feedback, a resident of Wetaskiwin, wrote: "Forcing citizens to purchase a particular type of product is not the way to go. I believe the government will make a lot of people angry with this legislation."
Others wrote in to say that energy-efficient compact fluorescent lights (CFLs), which will replace incandescent bulbs, contain mercury, and merely swapping one environmental problem for another.
"Should we be paying Russian roulette with mercury-filled light bulbs in our home?" asked one writer.
Home Depot and Ikea already have recycling programs for the CFLs, and Stewart said the government should consider making all retailers recycle those bulbs to keep mercury out of the environment. Many municipalities will also take them back as part of their hazardous waste programs.
Health concerns also made up a large chunk of the feedback the department received.
"A lot of people in Canada cannot tolerate bulbs which cause health problems such as migraine headaches, and people with bad photophobia like me have an 'extreme' problem being around them," wrote one person.
"Another BIG CONCERN is I need dimmer switches to adjust lights in my home and they don't work with fluorescent bulbs!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" the writer continued.
There are CFLs that work with dimmers, but they are hard to find. They are expected to be more readily available before the ban begins.
In what appeared to be feedback from a health lobby group, a writer argued that the ban would hurt the health-care system and worker productivity.
"It is common for migraine suffers, epileptics and persons with autism and fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) to experience ill effects from fluorescent lighting."
Some people "will have to wear sunglasses in their own living room," the group said, asking the government to reconsider its plan.
© The Calgary Herald 2008