Ode To The Light Bulb

Katy Grimes: Say goodbye to the incandescent light bulb, designed by Thomas Edison in 1879 and perfected by General Electric in 1906.

The Washington Post reported today, “The last major General Electric factory making ordinary incandescent light bulbs in the United States is closing this month marking a small, sad exit for a product and company that can trace their roots to Thomas Alva Edison’s innovations in the 1870s.”

A 2007 “energy conservation” measure passed by Congress set standards requiring a ban of the traditional incandescent light bulb, by 2014. The problem is that the new government standards are so high that the traditional incandescent bulbs won’t be allowed. Thank you Al Gore.

The law has already forced most Americans to switch to the annoying, buzzing, flickering and dim “more efficient” bulbs – made in China.

Politicians promised that moving to green technology would stem declining manufacturing industries, and many would be saved if only green tech was embraced. But as is the case with any government-forced and heavily subsidized industry, even the light bulb industry now uses China to manufacture the new U.S. government-approved light bulbs. GE originally thought it could make a quick buck on the news energy efficient bulbs, but eventually closed that division a few years ago.

A big problem with the new bulbs is disposal. Rarely do we hear about the hazmat disposal risks when one of the new energy efficient bulbs has to be changed or (gasp) breaks. How you dispose of them? We are repeatedly told not to just throw them away. Do we call in the hazmat crew? What if the cat or dog walks through the broken bulb and tracks mercury throughout the house?

The only disposal answer I found was this from the EPA:

  • Have people and pets leave the room, and don’t let anyone walk through the breakage area on their way out.
  • Open a window and leave the room for 15 minutes or more.
  • Shut off the central forced-air heating/air conditioning system, if you have one.
  • Carefully scoop up glass pieces and powder using stiff paper or cardboard and place them in a glass jar with metal lid (such as a canning jar) or in a sealed plastic bag.
  • Use sticky tape, such as duct tape, to pick up any remaining small glass fragments and powder.
  • Wipe the area clean with damp paper towels or disposable wet wipes. Place towels in the glass jar or plastic bag.
  • Do not use a vacuum or broom to clean up the broken bulb on hard surfaces.
  • Wash your hands after disposing of the jars or plastic bags containing clean-up materials.

There are more instructions on the EPA website.

Nothing can replace the free market – not even an act of Congress. And now it’s lights out for the American light bulb — and the final 200 GE factory workers about to apply for unemployment.

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