The Instigator
JrRepublican
Pro (for)
Losing
3 Points
The Contender
Ore_Ele
Con (against)
Winning
26 Points

Compact Fluorescent Lightbulbs: bad for humanity

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 6 votes the winner is...
Ore_Ele
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/31/2011 Category: Science
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,443 times Debate No: 15728
Debate Rounds (2)
Comments (18)
Votes (6)

 

JrRepublican

Pro

I read your comment on my debate with socialpinko: I am willing to engage in a debate on CFL bulbs with the 8000 character limit. My first argument is that since these light bulbs contain mercury, they are profoundly harmful to the environment and to human health. Other than that, I'll let you start first.
Ore_Ele

Con

I thank my opponent for starting this debate.

Since this is a two round debate, I will make my arguments in R1, and attempt to refute Pro's R2 arguments in my R2.

Since I am Con, and defending against the claim that CFLs are "bad for humanity," there is not a lot of arguing I can do this round, but I will address that they use less energy than our current standard method.

You can go to any store that sells lightbulbs and take a look at how much energy the use, and how much light they produce. We can see that CFL's have a far greater light (lumens) to energy (watts) ratio than incandescents [1][2]. An 18w CFL (which has 1150 lumens [1]) is about the same as a 75w Incandescent (which has 1190 lumens [2]).

So we can see that the main effects of the blubs are not harmful, all that is left is to look at the side effects or un-seen effects. At this point, I will let my opponent bring up any arguments that he wishes, and I will address them in R2.

Thank you,

[1] http://www.energyfederation.org...
[2] http://www.ccri.edu...
Debate Round No. 1
JrRepublican

Pro

The first, minor point I want to make is that these CFL bulbs are not brighter, I know several people who substituted supposedly equivalent CFL's for incandescents and have noted that they are much dimmer and take an irritatingly long time to come to full brightness.

The major point that I contend is that CFL's contain mercury, which is a neurotoxin and an environmentally hazardous chemical. While these bulbs have less mercury than old thermometers, how many CFL's are there as compared to the numbers of thermometers per house? And how many thermometers are broken, releasing toxic mercury into the environment? This mercury will leak into the water table, polluting our environment and compromising human health when it infiltrates the water table. Although there is a law for proper disposal of these bulbs, many people are either not informed of their hazards or unable to conveniently dispose of them.

Further added to that is the fact that your insignificant energy/money savings would disappear when you have to open the windows of your house and shut off your heating/AC system, then reheat or recool your house. The energy savings (which are shrinking, since we now discover that they last a shorter time than first thought) that you do accumulate would be negated by the shattering of one bulb, especially if you live in a cold region like I do. And the question must be asked--why should we do this anyway? The pseudoscience of anthropognic carbon dioxide based warming is dubious at best and most likely a fraud, but that's the subject for another debate! Eventually, you cannot escape the fact that the mercury contained in these bulbs is going to be detrimental to both humanity and the earth they are designed to protect. Please vote pro!
Ore_Ele

Con

"The first, minor point I want to make is that these CFL bulbs are not brighter, I know several people who substituted supposedly equivalent CFL's for incandescents and have noted that they are much dimmer and take an irritatingly long time to come to full brightness."

Given that they are required by law to be accurate in their numbers, I'd recommend that if these people are truly not getting the amount of light that the lightbulbs claim, than they file a lawsuit against the company. As of now, we have the numbers that the company is legally required to be accurate vs the accounts of several unnamed people with no ties to accuracy.

As for any harm that these bulbs may actually cause, my opponent bases his entire argument around Mercury, an element which is found in CFL bulbs. My opponent uses no numbers and no sources to make his claims. That, in itself, should give voters reason to doubt, but, in the name of accuracy, I'll defend as if he did.

First, the notion that Mercury is hazardous needs to be addressed. This is a common fallacy that many people make. Things are not simply "hazardous" or "not hazardous," it depends on the amounts that you take. For example, unranium is present in tap water, but at low enough levels that it is safe [1]. In fact, we see radioactive material used all the time, in safe ways, such as smoke detectors [2], watches [3], Fertalizer [3], and even some CFL bulbs [3]. The point is, not that some is dangerous, but that it is dangerous only at certain levels, and when under those levels, that substance is completely safe. This is no exception for Mercury.

The second thing to point out is that CFL lightbulbs are not the only source of Mercury in your house [4]. Apart from older products (like light switches prior to 1991), Mercury is still very common in tilt switches (which are often used on thermostats), and even in your computer screen and other computer parts and in nearly every car older than 2003 [4][5]. These tilt switches can have over a gram of Mercury in them, the same amount of mercury as 300 CFL light bulbs. But the item in your house that has mercury which is most likely going to enter your body (nearly 100% chance of entering you body) is seafood. All seafood is going to have some amount of Mercury in it, which you are consuming. This includes ALL freshwater and ALL saltwater animals. The concentrations are shown here [6].

A 7 oz can of Albacore Tuna, has .353 ppm mercury in it. That means that the 7 oz can (200 g) has 70.6 micrograms of Mercury in it. And if you eat only 1 can a week, you'll be consuming the same amount of Mercury as a CFL bulb every year, and no harm will come to you from eating it. Even shark, which has .988 ppm in it, is safe to eat.

This then comes to my thrid and last point, that Mercury is natural (before anyone calls out Appeal to Nature, please see that I said that everything is safe in a small amount, and dangerous in large enough amounts). All the mercury that we put in those CFL light bulbs (and all the other products that we put mercury in) comes from the environment, so if the mercury is put back into the environment (so long as it is not in high concentrations), the environment can handle it just fine. Since when a CFL breaks (if it were to), the mercury is released as a gas, not as a liquid or a solid. This means that any mercury released will quickly spread out in the environment, rather than stay in a high concentration (as it would as a solid or as a liquid).

This evidence and these links should show everyone that CFLs provide no harm to anyone, and that the Mercury within them is not harmful to anyone, nor the environment. Just as the Mercury within your computers, cars, and tilt switchs are safe for you and for the environment.

Thank you,

[1] http://www.wise-uranium.org...
[2] http://home.howstuffworks.com...
[3] http://www.hps.org...
[4] http://www.epa.gov...
[5] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[6] http://www.fda.gov...
Debate Round No. 2
18 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Ore_Ele 6 years ago
Ore_Ele
lol, really? First off, if they are in a package, than the gas is sealed in the package. If you want to present a world of "what if" statements go ahead, but that can be done with anything, and so doesn't mean anything. Like one can say, what if you're carrying a bunch of Incandescent light bulbs and fall and cut yourself up with the broken glass. Or, what if you mistake a CFL for some spiral pasta and start chewing on it.
Posted by Silver_Falcon 6 years ago
Silver_Falcon
"I also addressed how Mercury, when released from a broken CFL, will form a gas and disperse in minutes, so that dangerous concentrations are not likely to occur."
It also means that if you fall with package of bulbs, you will get exposed imediately via inhalation. You will be hardly outside out of the area when the destruction of bulb happens so you still take high amount. Liquid mercury may be harder to clean but at least you don't inhale it.
Posted by Ore_Ele 6 years ago
Ore_Ele
Because they contained over 100 times the mercury than a CFL and they had better alternatives that were more accurate and cheaper to make.
Posted by JrRepublican 6 years ago
JrRepublican
I suppose it's not needed, but only if you don't value your health. Why do you think they removed mercury thermometers?
Posted by Ore_Ele 6 years ago
Ore_Ele
No, you don't need to. It says "If practical," which means "not needed."
Posted by JrRepublican 6 years ago
JrRepublican
That is only before the cleanup. After the cleanup you STILL need to air out the house for 2-3 HOURS!! you admitted this in a previous post. "I actually misspoke..."
Posted by Ore_Ele 6 years ago
Ore_Ele
I posted the link that shows that the EPA only says 5 - 10 minutes or more. I linked the EPA on that.

Also, mercury in CFLs is in a gasious form, so it won't get into the water table from them. If you broke the mercury in a tilt switch, that is in a liquid form, so it could.

http://en.wikipedia.org...
Posted by JrRepublican 6 years ago
JrRepublican
Wrong again! You need to open your house for 2-3 HOURS!!! Besides, that's only one bulb. What about after they get into the environment en masse? After all, many of these bulbs are landfilled, releasing the mercury into the water table.
Posted by Ore_Ele 6 years ago
Ore_Ele
What I did was take the facts, rather than the opinions of those facts. I also said in the debate that saying something is "poisonous" is not an accurate statement in itself. Things are poisonous at certain concentration and not below those concentrations (I then showed the accuracy of that opinion but refering to naturally occuring mercury in our food supply and radioactive materials in household objects). So a link, simply saying that something is poisonous, was already addressed by my argument. I also addressed how Mercury, when released from a broken CFL, will form a gas and disperse in minutes, so that dangerous concentrations are not likely to occur (you only need to open a window and leave for 15 minutes).
Posted by Silver_Falcon 6 years ago
Silver_Falcon
OreEle: Of course in just 2 rounds it is unavoidable and I am not blaming you for this. I just said, voters should check the last round (as Pro can't do that for them).
It is true you don't have to use whole source, but concluding contrary to your source without challenging its conclusion gives us impression that you just pick certain facts out of context and misinterpret them for your cause.
6 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 6 records.
Vote Placed by Aaronroy 6 years ago
Aaronroy
JrRepublicanOre_EleTied
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Total points awarded:31 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro does not need to cite the fact mercury is dangerous to human life / household life (pets, ect), it's common knowledge
Vote Placed by RougeFox 6 years ago
RougeFox
JrRepublicanOre_EleTied
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Total points awarded:05 
Reasons for voting decision: Mercury doesn't link to any impact really, no strength of link there. Pro didn't use sources at all. Con outweighs pretty easily.
Vote Placed by Koopin 6 years ago
Koopin
JrRepublicanOre_EleTied
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Reasons for voting decision: kfc
Vote Placed by socialpinko 6 years ago
socialpinko
JrRepublicanOre_EleTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Incredibly easy win for Con. Pro used no sources to back up his claims and his arguments were overwhelmingly refuted by Con. Con showed that the mercury in CFL bulbs that Pro has mentioned are used in numerous safe products and that it is not harmful in small proportions.
Vote Placed by RoyLatham 6 years ago
RoyLatham
JrRepublicanOre_EleTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro had to prove that the mercury in CFL presented disadvantages that offset any of potential advantages. He failed to do so. I would have at minimum required data on how often the bulbs are broken and what the average clean up costs are. Whether CFL should be mandated is a different matter; they can be more costly if infrequently used, and have problems with dimmers and cold environments.
Vote Placed by TUF 6 years ago
TUF
JrRepublicanOre_EleTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Con proves that mercury is harmless is small proportions, and shows our reliance on cfl's to save energy. This shows me that cfl's do more good than harm.