Every time Lafayette resident Carrie Bunkley walks to her kitchen pantry, she wonders whether the light bulb will click on or her pantry will be without light for the first time in a half century.
"We built this house 52 years ago," Bunkley says. "And we have never had to replace them. They don't make Westinghouse anymore. I have had the same Westinghouse oven for 52 years, too."
60-watt "eyesaver" Incandenscent bulbs
Westinghouse knew something about electricity. Of course, back then, politicians and bureaucrats weren't involved. Today, they make up the specifications; this keeps companies in check. Left to their own, they just might produce stuff that lasts. Can't have that!
The world's oldest working light bulb turned 110 years old Saturday and the 60-watt incandescent globe is still glowing, if a bit more dimly than when it was first turned on in 1901, according to its own Centennial Bulb website.
The Dangers of Fluorescent Lights
Fluorescent lights will save money, but use them with caution.
This energy savings is not without cost, however. The use of fluorescent light bulbs comes with health and environmental risks from exposure to mercury and radiation. Before attempting to clean up a broken fluorescent bulb, open the windows to the room to encourage ventilation, which will circulate the mercury gases out. Leave the room during this process to avoid inhaling the gases. Do not use brooms or vacuums since this will only trap mercury particles and spread them to other areas of the house. Instead, put on rubber gloves and scrape larger pieces off of surfaces with stiff paper and use sticky tape to pick up small glass shards and residual mercury dust. Immediately wipe down all surfaces with a damp paper towel. Place the broken shards, papers, towels and gloves in an airtight bag and seal it. Place that bag into another bag and seal it as well before throwing it in an outside trash can. Thoroughly wash your hands to get rid of any residual mercury.
Even with manufacturer and government guidelines regarding the proper methods of disposing of fluorescent bulbs, they still contaminate our environment and water supply. An article in The Scientific American has more guidelines. The final disposition of the bulb depends entirely on the person who purchased it. If you choose to dispose of it by tossing it in the trash, the mercury that each light contains ends up in a landfill. Through rain and natural leaching of the soil, mercury can find its way into the water supply. The mercury contained in each fluorescent bulb is "enough to contaminate up to 6,000 gallons of water beyond safe drinking levels." Dispose of fluorescent bulbs according to the manufacturer's recommendations. Dispose of CFLs as required in your community.