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How much Mercury is in Compact Fluorescent (CFL) bulbs, watch batteries, and coal-fired power plants? Answered

In Brennn10'sCompact Fluorescent Instructable there was a short discussion about the amount of mercury contained in CFL bulbs. The same topic came up in a mailing list I read, and there was some interesting analysis worth sharing.

Statement:
The Stranger (the Seattle weekly) has a column called "Dear Science" where the typically quite intelligent author argued that CFL bulbs weren't all that "better" for the environment because inevitable improper disposal put more mercury-n-shit into the environment. So unless you got all your power from a mercury spewing coal plant, you shouldn't use CFL's . And Seattle, getting a majority of it's power from hydro, shouldn't use CFL's.

This was called into question for being selective analysis that encourages an attitude of "there's not currently a solution, so keep doing what you're doing", and elicited the following response:

Just so I can bore everyone with what I think is the current level of knowledge about mercury and CFLs, here's some of the current information.

NRCan did a study on how much mercury is actually in CFLs, and compares them to other typical consumer sources (e.g., watch batteries--if you throw one of them out, you've throw out five times as much mercury as in a CFL):

http://oee.nrcan.gc.ca/energystar/english/consumers/questions-answers.cfm#mercury

After reading this, I actually worked out these numbers for myself on how CFL savings compare to mercury releases a few months ago. Of course, this is all more environmental destruction brand X vs. brand Y discussion that was being talking about.

I was curious about what the numbers work out to, so I went to dig for some data; this is what I came up with.

In 1999, about 1.75 trillion kWh were generated by coal
Energy Information Administration Annual Energy Review 1999, Figure 26

In 1999, 47.8 tons/year of mercury emissions came out of coal-fired power plants.

Source: U.S. EPA, Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards.
1999 National Emissions Inventory for Hazardous Air Pollutants.
http://www.epa.gov/ttn/chief/net/1999inventory.html#final3haps.

This calcs out to a figure of 0.025 mg mercury per kWh

Assuming 5 mg mercury per CFL, the equivalence point is about 200 kWh--a CFL would need to save 200 kWh before getting tossed in the trash. A quick calculation shows that this is about how much a CFL saves in half a year, if it were run 24-7: 75 W for an incandescent; 25 W for an equivalent CFL = 657 vs. 219 kWh/year, or 438 kWh/year difference.

Of course, this assumes that the coal mercury emission rate is the same as it was in 1999; I'm not sure if measures have been taken since then to reduce mercury emissions. Also, this is assuming that 100% of the power saved by the CFL would be generated by coal-fired power plants. But even with that assumption, coal is such a large fraction of the power generation (typically about half)--it would jump from six months to a year, instead. Of course, this period gets longer assuming a realistic duty cycle, but still, those numbers all seem to pencil in below typical installed lifetimes of CFLs.

Finally, there's a article from Home Energy magazine (behind a subscriber link), where somebody did a similar calculation with more current numbers, I think.

http://www.homeenergy.org/article_full.php?id=457&article_title=Understanding_CFLs

Home Energy Magazine
November/December 2007
Understanding CFLs
by Richard Benware

"Although the use of CFLs is steadily spreading, public understanding about how to dispose of them responsibly has not kept pace."

Life Cycle Benefits

In order to disprove the myths about CFLs, let's begin at the beginning. When CFLs are created, manufacturers dose the bulb with a small amount of mercury. This mercury, when electrically stimulated, releases UV light, which subsequently reacts with a phosphor coating to create visible light. Thus mercury is an essential part of every CFL; without it, the bulbs would not produce light. The typical dose of mercury is about the size of a pen tip, and these doses have been getting smaller and smaller. One reason for this is that the laws resulting from the Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) Directive have made it illegal for CFLs in Europe to contain more than 5 milligrams (mg) of mercury.

In the United States, there are no such laws limiting the amount of mercury in lightbulbs as yet, but members of the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) have voluntarily agreed to limit the amount of mercury in the CFLs that they produce to 5 mg for bulbs of up to 25 watts and 6 mg for bulbs of 25 to 40 watts. The average CFL on store shelves today contains about 4 mg of mercury, and nearly all the CFLs in production contain less than 5 mg. The mercury used in all the CFLs produced in the United States represents 0.18% of the mercury used in all U.S. products and
industrial processes.

CFLs do not release mercury as long as they are intact. In fact, they reduce net mercury emissions in the environment by conserving energy. For every kWh of electricity used by consumers, the average power plant emits over 1.5 lb of pollutants. If a 75W incandescent is replaced by an 18W CFL, the CFL will use 456 kWh less energy than the incandescent over its 8,000 hour lifetime. The Emissions and Generation Resource Integrated Database (eGRID) contains data on the emissions of the average power plant. Using eGRID's information to calculate the average emissions per kWh, we find that this single CFL has prevented the release of 2.72 lb of sulfur dioxide, 1.05 lb of nitrogen oxide, 5.67 mg of mercury, and over 700 lb of CO2.

It is important to note that these are the reductions from the average U.S. power plant. The eGRID data show that, on average, nonbaseload emissions tend to be dirtier. And in addition to reducing emissions, CFLs save money for the consumer. The Energy Information Administration (EIA) gives a 2006 average residential electricity cost of $.1008/kWh. Using the example given above, and basing our calculation on this figure, we find that a consumer would save about $46 on energy over the lifetime of the CFL.

When these bulbs finally do reach the end of their useful life, there are several pathways they can take. In the best-case scenario, the bulbs are recycled. Recycling rates are increasing, thanks to state regulations -- California and Minnesota have banned altogether throwing CFLs in the trash -- and improved consumer awareness. In 1999, it was estimated that only 15% of all fluorescent lightbulbs were recycled. Currently, that number has increased to around 25%, with higher levels in commercial applications. Since an average of 98.9% of the mercury is successfully recovered in the recycling process, this pathway generates minimal emissions.

Even the CFLs that are discarded in the trash are unlikely to release much of their mercury. Although most of them break under current trash disposal methods, some remain unbroken, and will not release any mercury. But those that do break are not likely to release much mercury. EPA estimates that only 0.2% of the remaining mercury in a spent bulb is elemental vapor. The rest of the mercury is in the glass, the phosphor coating, and the electrodes of the bulb. Mercury absorbed in these areas is not readily released. In fact, an EPA study found that only 6.8% of the total mercury in a broken bulb will be released. Since the average bulb on the market today contains only 4 mg of mercury, it will release only about 0.27 mg, even if it breaks when it is thrown in the trash.

The only disposal option that could lead to the release of any significant amount of mercury is incineration. Today, many incinerators have advanced mercury control technologies. CFLs disposed of in such incinerators would release up to 90% of their mercury, but those emissions would then be removed by these technologies. Incinerators without these technologies are not capable of removing the mercury. But even after accounting for all of the emissions that occur via all of the routes listed above, CFLs represent a mere 0.01% of total U.S. mercury emissions annually.

It is important to note that even if CFLs released all of their mercury, the environment would still be better off than it would be if nobody used CFLs. This is true because the average power plant releases 5.67 mg of mercury to power each 75W incandescent bulb. In short, replacing incandescents with CFLs is a great way to save energy, reduce mercury emissions, and save money (see "Discounting CFLs").

Discussions

OK. this is my problem with just about any argument for CFL's, or "global warming". You mean to tell me that if I replace all the lights in my house with CFL's that the power plant is going to release less Hg(or CO2)? The plant is going to continue releasing the SAME amount of Hg no matter how much I draw. I'd have to be using a ridiculous amount of electricity for the plant to have to throw more coal in the burner. The only way CFL's could reduce emmissions is if the whole city used CFL's, thus drastically reducing the load, but one CFL or even a household of CFL's is not going to affect the load on the power plant, just your electric bill.

How is that a problem for you? Switching to more efficient machines benefits your bottom line and reduces your burden on the Earth. I think it's just come to be assumed as common knowledge that whenever individuals are encouraged to do their relatively small part for the good of everyone (except perhaps the few who profit from increased energy use), it won't make a difference on a global scale issue until the practice is widely adopted. Sure, one plant will probably continue to churn out as much electricity and mercury as its capacity allows. But unless you are off the grid anyway (in which case you already use the most efficient lights and appliances you can get), widespread adoption means there will be fewer power plants built and hooked into the grid in future years. If you're on a grid, your power doesn't come from one power plant, but from many different sources all at once. It's not like you're going to have a choice in a few years anyway. Unless you post an instructable on how to make your own incandescent light bulbs!

I doubt an incandescent is that hard to make... we have the technology... We just need a glass blowing instructable to tie it all up...

As a glass and light sculptor, I should support the mandating of CFL's since I could then make incandescent bulbs as "art" works which would not be banned. Could make a fortune! However, since I'm one of the few in my field that does not use mercury in their glass and light sculpture, I would feel bad about supporting all that toxic mercury getting into our environment, homes and kid's bodies.

Ah don't feel too bad the mercury would find a way anyway, it's clever and reasonably sneaky... That and you'd be able to survive the mercury poisoning...

"reduces your burden on the earth" thats my only problem. I can't understand how a houseful of CFL's will change anything. I also realize that for a whole community to adopt something new you need some people to start the move. It. I'm just not one of those people. I'm all for reducing the electric bill, but according to FPL(the electric company here)only 1% of the electricity here comes from renewable sources. So all I'll be doing is helping my wallet.

The early adopters get to decide for themselves at least. The politicians have seen which way the wind is blowing in public sentiment with the latest energy laws. In 5 years, our choice at the store will be reduced to which newer, more efficient technology to choose from - fluorescents or LEDs.

Yes but the people to start the move don't know what will and what won't work and risk spending time and money on something that can be best described as a fad. CFLs are not a fad, but what else out there is? Only time can tell.

0
user
emka

10 years ago

Here’s a short critique of the bogus argument that there will be a reduction in toxic mercury into the environment with CFL’s due to the energy reduction from coal plants. (1) The old Government figures most often cited are incorrect for several reasons. The basic one is that they assume 100% of electricity in the US is from coal plants. Not true. 50% of electricity does not come from coal plants in the US and coal plants are now being mandated to reduce their mercury emissions by between 70% and 90% over the next several years. The most recent calculations from the DOE indicate that, on the average, CFL’s are worse than incandescent bulbs in terms of mercury. (2) Places like California produce little energy from coal plants, and several states produce none. So any CFL energy reductions will not cut much, if any, mercury there. (3) The 5mg of mercury generally claimed for CFL’s is largely a goal and not the current reality which is 200% to 600% higher for some major manufacturers according to suppliers of CFL’s to the State of New Jersey. (4) CFL’s are made in China with energy from mostly very dirty coal plants that emit much more mercury than US coal plants. And since China gets about 80% from coal and the US only about 50%, the comparison is even worse. It likely takes the equivalent of about 25% of the CFL’s energy savings to produce them there, plus the extra energy for the packaging and shipping compared to incandescent bulbs. That represents a lot more mercury per CFL. Oh, since fuel and power in China emit twice as much CO2 as in the US, on average, there may go up to half the CO2 savings. And since places like California are twice as clean in terms of CO2 as the rest of the US, there may be no CO2 savings realized from CFL’s in some states. (5) As much mercury is spilled into the environment in the production of CFL’s in China as goes into the CFL’s according to recent statements from industry representatives. (6) CFL’s are delivered here on ships using bunker oil, the worst mercury and CO2 producer of the fuel oils. Incandescent bulbs are still almost all made in the US. (7) There is no recycling program in place or planned that could handle the number of CFL’s proposed. Only 2% of CFL’s are recycled. And after many years, even the industrial recycling programs only handle about 25% of the mercury from fluorescent lights. (8) It is likely that if any major recycling program is set up, the CFL’s will be shipped back to China for reprocessing. Thus, when an objective and realistic lifecycle analysis is made, it is clear that a massive CFL program will put a great deal of additional toxic mercury into the environment and very likely into our kid’s bodies. And the EPA says that a sixth of them already have too much mercury in them.

Having researched and written on this topic extensively, let me discuss your points. (1)The government does not assume that 100% of energy comes from coal fired power plants. In fact, we normally take the average of all power plants in the country including nuclear, hydro, and many others that release NO mercury. However, it has found that the baseload capacity (powerplants running 24/7) comes mostly from "cleaner" energy sources like nuclear, wind, hydro, etc. Shoulder power plants tend to be coal. Thus, reducing energy consumption will be disproportionally reducing the use of coal power plants, which means the government likely underestimate the mercury released. Also, the EPA's mercury cap and trade program was just overturned in court, meaning there will be much less control of mercury release than predicted in the near future. (2)Energy conservation reduces emissions from several pollutants besides mercury. Also, while some states have very high proportions of renewables, most still import and produce at least some energy from nonrenewables. Since these are disproportionately coal, there could still be significant reductions. (3)I assume the reporting you are talking about includes industrial CFLs and regular fluorescents (which are recycled in much higher rates than the ones used in people's homes). When the government asked manufacturers for mercury data, most had a significant number of bulbs with 4 grams of mercury or less. The ones that were above 5 grams were typically not what you use in your home. (4,5,6)Most CFL manufacturers (MaxLite, TCP, etc.) are in the United States. (7)Recycling rates are higher than your estimates. Many states have also been mandating recycling/banning bulbs in the garbage. Thus, recycling rates will likely increase as more programs are adopted and improved upon in different states. Finally, I just want you to think about energy conservation in general. The U.S. needs to use demand reduction in combination with alternative energy supplies like renewables in order to solve our energy/pollution crisis.

Oh by the way, the other U.S. "manufacturer" of CFL's you cite, MaxLite, just happens to import their CFL's from China. So the two U.S. CFL companies you cite are Chinese manufacturers and/or importers. In your "extensive research" on CFL's I wonder if you have ever bought one. If you had, you would have seen on the bulb and/or its packaging that it is made in China. At least if it was from either of the two companies you named as U.S. manufacturers of CFL's. However, maybe the "etc." company you cited does make them here. I now hope that you would take a second look at your advacacy for a massive switch to CFL's in the light of all the environmental, health, economic, political and human rights issues associated with their manufacture in China.

Let me respond to some of your points but in no particular order:

(1) It is clear that a primary issue with CFL’s is their production in China with all the environmental and economic problems this entails. I presented several serious concerns about this aspect of the issue. You chose to ignore them by stating that most CFL’s are made in the US. Of the two manufacturers you cite, TCP and its affiliates account for 70% of the CFL market here. They are also major suppliers to GE, Wal-Mart and other mass marketers. The one thing you have missed is that they are one of the largest CHINESE manufacturers of CFL’s. They produce their CFL’s in CHINA and NOT in the US.

http://www.acehardware-vendors.com/homepage/2007/12/1228IH2.asp

Thus, you are wrong. China is the source for 85% to 90% of CFL’s sold here. The proportion is likely to increase with any massive CFL program.

My main point on the China connection holds. A full lifecycle analysis of CFL’s from raw materials acquisition, through processing, manufacture, shipping and disposal, means that mercury to the environment will be a multiple of that claimed to be in the CFL’s. Given the direct mercury loses in Chinese mining, processing and manufacture plus the heavy pollution from Chinese coal power plants and that from the bunker oil used by their ships, the amount could easily equal 400%. This would mean that there would be almost no place in the US were CFL’s would reduce mercury even if 100% of them were recycled.

(2) You state that the government does not assume that 100% of our power comes from coal fired plants when discussing the mercury problem. However, over the past several years and continuing until today, by far the most often cited statement used by environmentalists and other advocates for CFL’s, in their attempt to negate the mercury issue, comes from an EPA Fact Sheet. It holds that on the average in the US, CFL use reduces mercury since it reduces emissions from coal power plants. It assumes 100% of the power is from coal. It does NOT assume a mix as you claim.

However, I did find a more recent statement from the DOE that is almost never cited by CFL’s advocates which does assume an average power mix. It contradicts the often cited EPA claim that CFL’s reduce mercury on the average in the US. The DOE study indicates that a typical incandescent bulb, on the average in the US, generates about 5.4 mg of mercury while the equivalent CFL generates about 1.7 mg. Add to this the 5 mg of mercury generally cited as the current GOAL (not the likely current reality which is much higher based on New Jersey State documents) for the amount in a typical CFL, including those for home use, and the total for the CFL comes to 6.7 mg.

The EPA’s and your incorrect assumption of 4 mg would still mean that on the average in the US CFL’s increase the amount of mercury. (Please note that none of these claims for the amount of mercury in the CFL have been independently verified in off-the-shelf tests. They are all just assertions by the manufacturers and distributors, most often from their PR departments.) However, if the average for CFL’s of about 9 mg of mercury cited by NJ as well as the Chinese mercury loses and emissions are added, the amount could easily be over 35 mg for the typical CFL.

Even if it was an equal trade-off on average in the US, a little arithmetic would indicate that in terms of total mercury it would be best for that half of the Country where CFL’s would increase mercury NOT to use them instead of incandescent bulbs. This would be especially so for relatively clean power States such as California, Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, New Jersey, Oregon, Vermont, etc.

(3) I believe you're also wrong about there being any marginal effect from CFL’s that would significantly change the proportion of coal use in the power mix. This is due to the fact that residential lighting is overwhelmingly at off-peak hours. This also means that CFL’s will likely have no effect on the need to build new power plants or contribute to the closing of any existing power plants. It is peak use that is determinate. However, the massive increase in the production of CFL’s in China will contribute to the need to build even more very dirty and less efficient coal fired power plants there.

(4) While any EPA mercury reduction program has been forestalled, at least 18 States have their own mercury reduction programs. Most are more stringent than the recent EPA proposal and have shorter timelines for implementation. More States will follow. And given the stated positions of the probable Presidential candidates as well as the majority of Congress, it is likely that the new EPA will work to significantly decrease mercury emissions.

(5) While energy conservation reduces the emissions of pollutants in the US, the shifting of light bulb production to China not only cuts jobs here and sends more of our money there; it greatly increases their local pollution as well as global pollution. For example, on just a KWH of production basis there would be not only between a 500% and 1,300% increase in mercury emissions, but a 300% to 500% increase in the Nitrogen Oxides and a 500% to 2,500% increase in SO2. Even CO2 would be increased by between 25% and 100%.

In the clean power States, a shift to CFL’s from China would mean an overall lifecycle increase in most all pollutants with a reduction in CO2 much lower than usually assumed. It would be hard to justify the likely local and global detrimental environmental and health effects from the increase in toxic pollutants by any projected marginal reduction in CO2.

(6) Your faith in the possible recycling of residential CFL’s is admirable, if a bit unrealistic. For example, the industrial recyclers of fluorescent lights estimate about a 2% rate for CFL’s. In States and locals where it is legally mandated that CFL’s be treated as hazardous waste or recycled, there is no enforcement and little recycling. Even if the highly unlikely rate for the recycling of industrial fluorescent lights of about 25% can be realized for a massive residential CFL program throughout the US, this will not change the fact that there will be an increase in mercury pollution in many if not most locations here as well as a significant increase globally.

(7) I also think that energy conservation should be our first priority. I just don't like or believe all the unfounded hype on such products as CFL’s with their obvious unintentional negative consequences. This is particularly so when there has yet to be any scientifically objective environmental impact analysis done on a cost-benefit, full lifecycle basis.

(8) If you want to know what I do support and advocate, let’s just take a breath and allow the time and effort needed to refine LED’s as a more rational alternative. In the meantime, use extended life and Halogen incandescent bulbs with dimmers, timers, motion detectors, etc. and turn them off more often. Of cause, all these reasonable conservation methods would not work so well for the mass marketed CFL’s from China since they would tend to greatly cut their efficiency or burn them out or maybe even cause them to catch on fire.

(9) If you still would like to advocate a massive switch to CFL’s, I'm sure you would agree that there must be full public disclosure of the mercury problem. At the very least, this should include, in the spirit of California’s Prop 65, the following statement, prominently displayed on all CFL’s, their packaging, displays, ads and supporting materials:

This product contains MERCURY, a toxic chemical known to cause neurological damage, especially to fetuses and young children. Households with children, pregnant women and women of childbearing age should take special precautions. Improper disposal of this product is illegal and can have serious detrimental effects on the environment and public health.

Speaking of lifecycles, the mercury cycle in the environment is VERY important when talking about its toxicity. Liquid mercury isn't toxic to you unless you touch or eat it. Yes, it will release vapor - extremely slowly. If you want to make it really deadly as a random killer anywhere on the planet, vaporize it into the atmosphere - say as a byproduct of coal power generation. Being a heavy element, it all returns relatively quickly as a molecular fog from the atmosphere, to pollute water and land and the food chain everywhere. Modern landfills are designed to try to contain toxic heavy metals and other toxics to a large degree. When they say most of the mercury in a crushed CFL will stay in a landfill, it's not that hard to understand why that's much less dangerous than spewing it into the atmosphere. So I really hope modern incinerators are getting better at removing heavy metals from their effluent. You're making a decent case for LEDs as a better alternative than CFLs.

Not that it’s a good idea to handle or eat elemental mercury, but it’s the elemental mercury vapor that is by far the most dangerous. All the elaborate procedures for cleaning up a broken CFL in the home are probably justified especially if you have young kids. The little vapor initially given off would not violate industrial workplace standards but would likely violate residential standards near the floor where they concentrate and where your kids play. Mercury emissions from coal fired power plants are bad but they are a much more easily controlled and restricted point source of the toxic stuff than the billions of CFL’s that are being advocated and mandated for home use. It is a sad pipedream that there will be any major effective recycling of the things. There are much stronger moves at the State level and, hopefully, at the Federal level with a new Administration, to greatly restrict mercury emissions from coal plants than for recycling or proper disposal of CFL’s. There maybe some controls being enacted to restrict mercury from landfills. However, an EPA study of landfills in the New York Metropolitan Area estimated that only about 10% of the mercury from fluorescent lights ever made it to the landfill. It seems 90% of the toxic stuff was lost to the local environment before the waste ever made to the landfill. The form that mercury takes when it does leach out of landfills is more dangerous than the form from power plant emissions. I don’t know what form the 90% that doesn’t make it to the landfills takes and, relatively, how dangerous it is. But I sure don’t like the idea of it hanging around my home and neighborhood. To make you feel better, from what I’ve read, there are increasingly effective restrictions on mercury emissions from incineration. The problem is in what to do with the mercury captured. I understand that it is being used in the production of building materials. Oh well. Yes, let’s just pass on the CFL’s and move on to LED’s which promise to be much more efficient and safer in several years.

Very good read Eric :)

The key thing to point out with CFLs is that the mercury inside can be managed. The:
...weren't all that "better" for the environment because inevitable improper disposal put more mercury-n-shit into the environment.

In my opinion is a cop out - I do recycle my bulbs. My neighbors might not, but given easier access to safe recycling and recycling rates go up.

GE and Phillips have a low mercury bulb available too - I think it's something like 2mg of Hg per bulb.

I also hear people complaining about use in colder regions.... I put a CFL in my refrigerator about a month ago. Sure, it takes about a second - occasionally two seconds, but I get enough light from initial start up, and no noticeable increase in light output after 15 seconds. We'll see how life cycle changes though.

The other big complaint is lower than rated bulb lifetime... I have about 12 bulbs installed - and only one has failed just shy of their rated life span. I'll go as far as saying - that if you buy cheap low quality, don't expect high quality bulbs. It's kinda like crest toothpaste (I think that's the one) - just because you bought it at the dollar store, that doesn't mean it's the same stuff (which it isn't, recall the salmonella or some other nasty germ that they found in it).


There's something to be said about the Status Quo. If there's an excuse to keep it, people will cling on and fight for it. Such is the case for Hybrid SUVs (although, if you can suddenly change 50% of the market share from 18mpg to 30mpg in the near future - I'm on board), CFLs, et. al.

A very simple, dramatic move to cut unnecessary pollution would be to ban all SUVs from all urban areas. Special dispensation could be given to those who actually require an SUV for the proper execution of their work, if that work is performed out of an urban area, but I can't actually think of one. The nearest I can think of is either "I work on a building site and I am too lazy to walk the last 50 metres of my journey", or "I own a farm and the trees are all too low for me to use an ordinary tractor". Nothing else requires such a ridiculously consumptive vehicle, as demonstrated recently when the team from Top Gear crossed several thousand miles of rural Africa (including desert, salt flats and bridgeless river-crossings) in decades-old two-wheel drive road cars.

Kiteman, a word if you may... We always had pickup trucks to take to work because we did tyre fitting, on an industrial level. Having the 'power lesbians' come to your door in the middle of night to tell us that out pickup truck is the devil isn't fun... Granted our carbon emmissions were pretty much cancelled out by the fact that our hedge was about 15-18' high depending on when the DOE last gave us a stern talking to. Not neighbours from hell or anything just liked having a big hedge. Anyway back to point, I originally would have said yes to that but a suprising number of Suv's are used for their purposes, there needs to be a policy on what consitutes need to use an Suv, then a higher tax band for unnecessary Suv's. That said we were never unenvironmental with the pickup trucks... When we were done with them they were either dead or more recently they were three years old and wern't likely to survive the added warranty. I can tell you now that one of the few survivors still has a happy life putting up housing sale signs, despite being 20years old... That said I was a bit lazier about my transport around the harbour estate, to a big saw to an old estate... Ran that really cheap for ages until I completely smoked the clutch... The most interesting difference we ever saw in two trucks was the old mistubushi L200 (now different engined etc.) and the Isuzu Rodeo, the Older mistubushi took about £35 of fuel a week with a 2.5L Diesel (both had the same loads in them 24/7 unless we went to the beach etc.) Whereas the isuzu ran on about £25 a week with a powerful 3.0L diesel, It took us a while to realise why this was, my dad was lettting me drive and noticed that I held on to the gears more in corners etc. Under certain circumstances a machine more capable in its own range is the more economical, that doesn't mean you have an excuse to buy a porsche Suv to go on five minute journeys.

...a surprising number of Suv's are used for their purposes...

But it shouldn't be a surprise when a work vehicle is used for work purposes.

I've just come back from a shopping trip. There was a pickup in the DIY store car park - fair enough, except it was utterly spotless, and it was driven away by a woman in high heels who had just bought a small lamp.

There were several large 4WD pickups in the supermarket carpark - not one even had dirty tyres.

(Do people really knock on your door at night and tell you off for your choice of car?)

But it shouldn't be a surprise when a work vehicle is used for work purposes.

So the funny thing is.... My father owns a Honda Element. If I recall correctly, the load capacity for that car and year is ~650 pounds. That includes passenger (4) weight....

Yeah! Hear here! Hummers shouldn't be advertised to soccer-moms. When people bash hummers for being so... hummerish (gas-guzzling & bad for the enviorment), its because people who don't need them have them. They have thier uses, but they aren't in needed in normal society.

Ha! A hummer wouldn't even fit down the street I live on. I think the reason American cars are so big is because most American streets were built after the invention of the car, whereas most European streets were built before the discovery of ~~fire~~ electricity.

This is why Boston is one of my favorite cities!

Why? Because the roads are being built as you drive over them?
(*snicker* Big Dig *snicker*)

I enjoyed the sense of adventure back in the day when it was going on. Kind of boring in comparison nowadays.

Actually, yeah! I loved the organic feel of downtown, where it was more important to have a good sense of direction then to know where the roads went, when the big dig would change things on a weekly basis.

Hehe, you can't fit a delivery truck down mine. Nor a fire truck, worryingly.

Back in the day of one person horse and carriages ? ;-)

You may mock the horse, but it was the first fully-recyclable vehicle - shaving brushes, leather, glue, steak ... Plus, it is mainly self-maintaining, self-fuelling and (if you're a two-horse family), potentially self-replicating.

BTW: I LOVE riding horses, and actually get along quite well with most of them :-)

Oh, and the emissions are actually useful, either directly as fertiliser, as raw materials for the tanning industry, dried as fuel or left in a pile to rot and seep saltpetre.

This is great if there are only horses and carriages on the roads, but I live in an area where there are "a LOT" of them, but more cars and trucks. The Amish, not being contributors to road tax, do the greatest amount of damage to the roads (metal rims on the carriage wheels, and metal horse shoes). It is not acceptable to take and not give something in return for the harm caused.

Actually I wasn't mocking them....but a horse and carriage were not all that narrow either, not the one's I am familiar with anyways? I don't know about your area, but here it takes about the price of a new car plus gasoline on a yearly basis to upkeep a horse for a year.....unless you grow your own hay and etc.

Here is how I feel about my little Hyundai.....

GasPrices.jpg

A great deal of America was built using the suburb concept too :/ Which isn't very efficient if you're going to live on subsistence nor if you're going to live depending on supplies being brought in :/

Don't forget that the Hummer has become a symbol of consumption evil whereas the Prius has become a symbol of eco goodness.... They could make the hummer get 40mpg and it would still come with a negative connotation :/

Don't ban SUV's - just the farm equipment. After all, farm equipment is for use on farms... Unfortunately for the 50% of new vehicle buys - they're technicaly buying farm machinery as just about every auto manufacturer has exploited that loophole in the US :/

I mean, I'm not allowed to drive the panzer tank I don't own right now down the street - what's the difference :p


But all that said - I'm still for a fuel efficiency change from 18 to 30. I mean, that's a 60% increase in FE! For my car to get a 60% increase - I'd need to get 58mpg (from ~35). Pulling 35mpg out of a 27mpg vehicle already requires much effort on my part from driving technique and planning :p

In other news, the US House voted to raise the CAFE standards (requiring 35mpg for cars - and I don't recall what it would be for trucks etc.) :) Hopefully the senate approves, but I'm not holding my breath just yet :/

Actually, I have a provisional licence to drive a tank! (Ah, the loopholes that people forget to close when they update a bureaucracy!)

Well, see, we have "freedom" ( a registered trademark of the Rand Corporation) over here, and doing stupid jackass, keeping up with the Joneses consumerism, is an "essential protected liberty".

I had learned that the watch/hearing aid batteries were "mercury" batteries when I was just a teen-stripe, and I went about collecting my Mom's hearing aid batteries that she discarded. Taking a pliers, I could squeeze out a decent drop of mercury, and 5-10 batteries later I had a bit of a puddle of it. I don't know if they have improved the amount needed, but it is obvious that my crude method of extraction did not remove most of the mercury.

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westfw

10 years ago

So when they say "watch batteries", are they talking about the old "mercury batteries" that hardly any watch has used in the last couple of decades, that you can't even get for the camera light meters that need the exact and stable voltage, or are they talking about the miniscule amounts of mercury that were once in alkaline and lithium batteries for obscure purposes? I'm under the impression that most modern batteries contain no mercury at all (except perhaps those Chinese imports we all buy...)

Boy, do I learn something new everyday! Nice compilation Eric! Thanks!

I'v had bad luck with feit bulbs they seem to burn out faster than other brands. If leds were cheaper there wouldn't be any problems.

I had that happen in a table lamp to two bulbs then I found out it was a 3-way lamp, maybe that had something to do with my burnouts.

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Juklop

10 years ago

I wish I knew what any of that means.

its talking about a fluorescent bulb being better for the environment than a standard incandescent one. because they use less power, less mercury comes from the power plant. thats about it in a nutshell.