CFLs, Smart Appliances, and Even Occupancy Sensors Are Good for You? … At What Cost?

Obama File PhotoOn August 23, 2013, President Obama made some comments that mocked people who are not convinced of the wisdom of using energy-efficient bulbs and smart appliances.  What the President fails to realize is that it is not a matter of a “socialist plot” as to why informed people don’t want these bulbs and appliances.  It is that both the bulbs and appliances can make you sick, and, in addition, that the smart appliances can be utilized to spy* on you.

Click on the link/button below to listen to the President’s comments where he states that we need to “educate the public as to why this can be good for them” (rather than acknowledging legitimate issues associated with energy saving bulbs, smart appliances, and smart ceiling fans and then properly accounting for the economic and societal costs associated with those devices).  Also, note how the President refers to these issues as “simple stuff.”  Regarding saving money, how much more cheaper are the purchase prices for energy efficient bulbs and smart appliances as compared to incandescent bulbs and “regular” appliances?  Are you saving any money?

* As used in this website posting, the word spy is defined as:  To monitor secretly or remotely to gain information which can be utilized for objectionable or hostile purposes.

What follows are some facts related to hazards and other concerns related specifically to compact fluorescent bulbs and so-called smart appliances.

1.  Compact Fluorescent Lamp (CFL) Bulbs

  • CFLCFL bulbs can be hazardous because each bulb contains about 5 mg of mercury.  Mercury is highly toxic, especially to children and fetuses.  The mercury is necessary in the fluorescent bulb since the bulb would not emit light without it.  The hazards then are avoidance of inhaling the toxin, touching the toxin while cleaning up broken bulbs and disposal of burned out intact bulbs.  Do not throw them away in the regular trash, but take them to a recycling facility in your area licensed to handle hazardous waste.  …  Now how practical is that for a common household light bulb, i.e., that disposal is required at a hazardous waste facility?  Refer to the following link for EPA “minimum actions recommended to clean up a broken CFL”:  EPA Broken CFL Bulb Clean-up and Disposal Instructions.
  • CFL bulbs emit ultraviolet radiation.  UV radiation has been linked to skin cancer, and fluorescent lamps emit more energy in the UV part of the spectrum than do other types of light bulbs.  UV Facial Damage 16x9There are members of our population who are extremely sensitive to UV radiation and need to take extraordinary measures to avoid sunlight.  Currently they are not being warned that CFL bulbs can create a similar effect as sunlight.  In addition, from personal experience, this website’s moderator has noticed fading of wood paneling located near CFL bulbs and physical deterioration of lamps shades that did not occur with use of normal incandescent bulbs.
  • CFL bulbs can cause various health problems due to the flickering nature of the bulbs and radiofrequency emissions, especially migraines and other symptoms characteristic of Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity (EHS)

A couple of years ago, Canada’s “16×9” aired a comprehensive investigative report on CFL bulbs.  It would really be worth your time to view this report since after studying it there can be little doubt that CFL bulbs are much more hazardous than standard incandescent bulbs.  LED lighting will likely represent an alternative solution to CFLs at some point in the future, but at this point the number of choices for such bulbs are very limited and very expensive.  So far, LED lighting has been more suitable for accent or decorative lighting and not for general room lighting or reading.

2.  Smart Appliances

Smart Appliance Home

This website has previously written about health and privacy concerns related to smart appliances.  Postings include the following:

3.  “Smart” Ceiling Fans Equipped with Occupancy Sensors

In a slightly different twist on the issue of smart appliances, the Department of Energy (DOE) is considering new standards for ceiling fans.  Furthermore, it is possible that the President’s reference to “appliances” in the audio clip heard earlier was in part due to an ongoing debate with Congress on the topic of smart ceiling fans.  From a 101-page DOE “rulemaking framework” document dated March 2013, there are the following statements with an associated figure:

Occupancy sensors use technologies that detect the presence of people through movement and body heat.  …  Occupancy sensors can save energy by signaling to a ceiling fan to power down if a room is unoccupied.  …  By limiting the hours of active mode operation to times when people are in the path of the fan, an occupancy sensor could reduce the overall energy consumption of a ceiling fan.  To ensure that all power-saving technologies are properly accounted for, DOE is considering whether or not to include occupancy sensors as a technology option for ceiling fans.”

Sensor for Ceiling Fan

Motion SensorThe ceiling fan configuration shown above would likely involve additional RF transmitters and the introduction of occupancy sensors into the home.  If such ceiling fans were then wirelessly connected to the home’s smart meter or Wi-Fi router, then the utility, fan manufacturers, and others could determine home occupancy as well as movement from one room to another.  Such “required options” will drive up the selling price of ceiling fans.  It is also a very narrow-minded approach to the use of ceiling fans.  Ceiling fans are often utilized to assist in overall air movement within an entire structure independent of whether someone happens to be “occupying” a particular room at any given moment.

For additional information on the topic of ceiling fans and a somewhat different perspective, refer to an article entitled, “GOP lawmakers decry ceiling fan regulations,” at the following link:  The proposed rulemaking framework for ceiling fans would require a transition from AC motors to the more expensive DC motors which can have higher maintenance costs.  [The transformer and electronics necessary for this AC to DC power conversion would also likely be a source of added dirty electricity.]  Restrictions may further be imposed that would limit the production of stylish fans due to arbitrary regulatory limitations on blade width and length.  In the end, the DOE may implement regulations that would dramatically reduce ceiling fan sales in the future due to increased costs and reduced aesthetics.

Summary and Commentary

Compact Fluorescent Lamp (CFL) bulbs and smart appliances are examples of products rolled out and in some cases mandated without proper testing or consideration of the harm that they can cause, … similar to what is also happening with smart meters and the entire smart grid itself.

Hopefully if one sees how some people can be hypersensitive to CFL bulb exposure, then one can also better appreciate how other people may also be hypersensitive to wireless transmitting devices, such as those contained in smart meters and smart appliances.

Smart appliances and smart ceiling fans represent additional sources of RF exposure in the home and potential invasions of privacy when such devices are connected through wireless networks to the utility or appliance manufacturers.  It is not clear that such “required options” for appliances can be easily deactivated.  There certainly is no requirement that RF transmitters be capable of deactivation, so it may end up being something that has to be confirmed for each manufacturer of smart appliances with actual testing.

Please note that when Health Canada and organizations like the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) state that RF emitting products are “safe” because they meet national or international limits, there is inherent misrepresentation in such a statement.  For example, the FCC at its website states “there is no federally developed national standard for safe levels of exposure to radiofrequency (RF) energy, …”  So how can you say that RF exposure from a CFL, smart appliance, smart meter, or other wireless device is safe due to measured levels being under the “limit,” since the “limit” was never developed to be a standard of safety?  In fact, the RF exposure limits for most “western countries” are intended to establish “permissible levels of exposure” and at the same time help protect against thermal effects from RF radiation, such as burning or cooking of tissue as if it were a piece of meat in the microwave oven.  Such limits have absolutely no relevance for consistently observed adverse biological effects occurring below those thermally based limits.

FCC Exposure Guidelines

About SkyVision Solutions

Raising public awareness and finding solutions for smart grid issues related to invasions of privacy, data security, cyber threats, health and societal impacts, as well as hazards related to radiofrequency (RF) radiation emissions from all wireless devices, including smart meters.
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