Thursday, December 23, 2010

Fearmongering with falsehoods: Wherein I ask WJR's John McCulloch to stop perpetuating harmful urban legends about light bulbs


Environmentalists -- frequently criticized by foes for fearmongering -- have no corner on the market as aptly demonstrated this morning by conservative WJR (Detroit) talk show host John McCulloch's irresponsible comments on the cleanup of broken light bulbs. This kind of nonsense creates an atmosphere where criminals are empowered to rip off frightened people who swallow the urban legends that McCulloch peddled this morning. Here's my letter snail mailed today:

John McCulloch
News/Talk 760 WJR
3011 West Grand Blvd. Suite 800
Detroit, MI 48202

Hello John:

Caught part of your Friday, 12/23 segment on efforts to repeal the federal light bulb
efficiency standards that essentially ban the incandescents.

While I support implementation of the new standards, I respect and understand the argument against them. That is not my reason for writing.

I write to ask you to please stop perpetuating the false claim that broken compact fluorescent light bulbs require professional Haz-Mat cleanups and that evacuating one’s home is an appropriate response to a broken bulb.

Unscrupulous contractors have preyed on frightened homeowners, fleecing them for thousands of dollars in scams involving CFL cleanups. This outrageous and probably illegal scheme is made possible when respected personalities like yourself perpetuate the myth that such cleanups are necessary. It is a scare tactic that poisons the policy debate with falsehoods and gives credence to the loathsome thieves who prey on the fears of people who figure it must be true because John McCulloch said it.

CFL bulbs do contain mercury and require care when broken. I’ve done it. It’s a pain the rear. But it’s neither a crisis nor a grave danger. Here are some sources for learning what’s required:

  1. The fact-checking service concludes that broken bulbs are neither a grave danger to a home’s inhabitants, nor do they require a professional cleanup:
  2. The EPA’s guidelines for CFL cleanup:

The cleanups require neither the evacuation of one’s home, nor the employment of outside contractors.

I don’t seek or expect to change your position on the light bulb standards. But I do respectfully suggest that you provide listeners with accurate information.

Thank you for your time.

Hugh McDiarmid Jr.
Farmington, MI

No comments:

Post a Comment