What Fresh Hell Is This?

December 29, 2011

The Trib Misleads. On CFLs. AGAIN

From today's New Year's wrap:
More bad news for the crowd that believes government should determine what light bulbs you can buy. London's Daily Mail reports that when compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) can no longer produce light, "the electronics in the base will still try to function, sometimes leading to overheating, smoke and fire." How comforting. [Bolding in original.]
And yet again, when you start to dig into the story you find the piles of facts that Scaife's braintrust casually omits.

Let's start digging.

From that Daily Mail article:
Compact fluorescent lamps, which will gradually replace traditional incandescent bulbs, are a fire hazard that could burn down your home, experts have warned.

The lamps (CFLs) use electricity to heat an element in the lamp’s base that leads the mercury vapor gas in the coils to emit light.

But when a CFL can no longer produce light, the electronics in its base will still try to function, sometimes leading to overheating, smoke and fire.
Good to know the braintrust read the first three paragraphs.  But the next paragraph leads us to the Daily Mail's source:
Fires from the old incandescent bulbs, on the other hand, are virtually nonexistent, masslive.com reports.
Masslive.com is the online presence of a newspaper in Springfield Massachusetts called The Republican.  So the Daily Mail wasn't really reporting on the CFLs, it was re-reporting what Masslive.com was reporting.  Now why would a British newspaper re-report something negative about CFLs from central Massachusetts?

Do I need to tell you that the Daily Mail is a conservative paper?

Anyway, here's what Masslive had to say:
Compact fluorescent lamps, or CFLs, have been counted on to light the way to a more energy-efficient future.

Compared to traditional incandescent bulbs, which will gradually be phased out starting in January, CFLs use about a fifth the power and have a life six to 10 times as great.

However, since the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission launched its online safety complaints database in March, there have been 34 reports made by people about CFLs that emitted smoke or a burning odor and four reports of the devices catching fire.

As perspective, though, 272 million CFLs were sold in 2009 in the United States
Wow 4 bulbs out of 272,000,000.  That's 0.00000147058824%, I think.  And that's assuming those 4 bulbs were from only those millions of bulbs sold in 2009.

Not something the Braintrust bothered to tell you, is it?

Or how about this from the same masslive article?
Consumer Reports magazine, in its August issue, addressed the CFL burnout issue. “In our labs, we’ve tested 77 models of compact fluorescent lightbulbs over the last five years, for a combined 2,680,000 hours of light,” the article said.

“We’ve never seen a bulb create smoke or overheat enough at the end of its life to cause any noticeable physical damage to itself. But we’ve heard from readers about bulbs smoking and their plastic base or glass tube melting and discoloring,” the article said.

In 2009, after reports of end-of-life smoke and fire in CFLs, standards were revised for CFLs sold in North America that set new minimum requirements for the materials used in the plastic housing of the base.
Again, not something the braintrust bothered to tell you.

Oh, and the end-of-life smoke and fire issue has already been addressed?

Yet another thing the Braintrust didn't bother to tell you.

Interesting to see how the facts are shed when an article in a regional (though award winning) newspaper in central Massachusetts gets amplified up to a larger conservative paper in England and then that amplification gets echoed in Scaife's Über-conservative editorial page.

That's how the right wing noise machine works, my friends.

Happy Thursday.

1 comment:

EdHeath said...

A few years ago, I bought a couple of CFL's from a dollar store at a dollar each. I remember putting one into a light socket in my basement before starting a Nordic Track workout (about 45 minutes). By the time I was done, the light had burnt out, and I believe was a bit scorched. It is certainly possible to buy a CFL that is so cheaply made as to be dangerous, just like everything else, including incandescent bulbs. I have to wonder how many of those 38 reported bulbs the showed scorching or even caused fires were bought at dollar stores at ridiculously low prices.

Mind you, you can get CFL's in bulk at Walmart or Home Depot for roughly two dollars a bulb. You can also buy them for much more, even as high as ten dollars a bulb for high wattage, daylight type bulbs or three way wattage bulbs.

I suppose LED bulbs are the eventual future; CFL's are like hybrid cars, a way step on the road to sustainability. Which is fine, as CFL's and hybrids come down in price yet promise decades of performance, they make conservation the financially smart option.