Green Lightbulbs

by JASON | 7:46 PM in |

WHEN British consumers are compelled to buy energy-efficient lightbulbs from 2012, they will save up to 5m tons of carbon dioxide a year from being pumped into the atmosphere. In China, however, a heavy environmental price is being paid for the production of “green” lightbulbs in cost-cutting factories.

Large numbers of Chinese workers have been poisoned by mercury, which forms part of the compact fluorescent lightbulbs. A surge in foreign demand, set off by a European Union directive making these bulbs compulsory within three years, has also led to the reopening of mercury mines that have ruined the environment.

Doctors, regulators, lawyers and courts in China - which supplies two thirds of the compact fluorescent bulbs sold in Britain - are increasingly alert to the potential impacts on public health of an industry that promotes itself as a friend of the earth but depends on highly toxic mercury.

Making the bulbs requires workers to handle mercury in either solid or liquid form because a small amount of the metal is put into each bulb to start the chemical reaction that creates light.

Mercury is recognised as a health hazard by authorities worldwide because its accumulation in the body can damage the nervous system, lungs and kidneys, posing a particular threat to babies in the womb and young children.

The risks are illustrated by guidance from the British government, which says that if a compact fluorescent lightbulb is broken in the home, the room should be cleared for 15 minutes because of the danger of inhaling mercury vapour.

In one case, Foshan city officials intervened to order medical tests on workers at the Nanhai Feiyang lighting factory after receiving a petition alleging dangerous conditions, according to a report in the Nanfang Daily newspaper. The tests found 68 out of 72 workers were so badly poisoned they required hospitalisation.

A specialist medical journal, published by the health ministry, describes another compact fluorescent lightbulb factory in Jinzhou, in central China, where 121 out of 123 employees had excessive mercury levels. One man’s level was 150 times the accepted standard.

The same journal identified a compact fluorescent lightbulb factory in Anyang, eastern China, where 35% of workers suffered mercury poisoning, and industrial discharge containing the toxin went straight into the water supply.

It also reported a survey of 18 lightbulb factories near Shanghai, which found that exposure levels to mercury were higher for workers making the new compact fluorescent lightbulbs than for other lights containing the metal.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/asia/article6211261.ece

italicized bold mine

CFLs contain a very small amount of mercury sealed within the glass tubing. No mercury is released when the bulbs are intact (not broken) or in use, but CFLs can break and release mercury vapor if dropped or roughly handled. EPA encourages consumers to handle and use CFLs safely. Be careful when removing the bulb from its packaging, installing it, or replacing it. More information is provided in the Energy Star fact sheet: CFLs and Mercury (PDF).

If a CFL breaks in your home, please follow EPA's recommended steps to carefully clean up and dispose of broken bulbs. These recommendations will help to minimize any exposure to released mercury vapor.

EPA encourages the recycling of burned out fluorescent bulbs rather than disposing of them in regular household trash. Recycling of burned out CFLs is one of the best ways to help prevent the release of mercury to the environment by keeping mercury out of landfills and incinerators. Recycling of these bulbs also allows the reuse of the glass, metals and other materials that make up fluorescent lights.

http://www.medicinenet.com/mercury_poisoning/page4.htm

Mercury concentration in the study room air often exceeds the Maine Ambient Air Guideline (MAAG) of 300 nanograms per cubic meter (ng/m3) for some period of time, with short excursions over 25,000 ng/m3, sometimes over 50,000 ng/m3, and possibly over 100,000 ng/m3 from the breakage of a single compact fluorescent lamp. A short period of venting can, in most cases, significantly reduce the mercury air concentrations after breakage. Concentrations can sometimes rebound when rooms are no longer vented, particularly with certain types of lamps and during/after vacuuming. Mercury readings at the one foot height tend to be greater than at the five foot height in non vacuumed situations.

Although following the pre-study cleanup guidance produces visibly clean flooring surfaces for both wood and carpets (shag and short nap), all types of flooring surfaces tested can retain mercury sources even when visibly clean. Flooring surfaces, once visibly clean, can emit mercury immediately at the source that can be greater than 50,000 ng/m3. Flooring surfaces that still contain mercury sources emit more mercury when agitated than when not agitated. This mercury source in the carpeting has particular significance for children rolling around on a floor, babies crawling, or non mobile infants placed on the floor.

Cleaning up a broken CFL by vacuuming up the smaller debris particles in an un-vented room can elevate mercury concentrations over the MAAG in the room and it can linger at these levels for hours. Vacuuming tends to mix the air within the room such that the one foot and five foot heights are similar immediately after vacuuming. A vacuum can become contaminated by mercury such that it cannot be easily decontaminated. Vacuuming a carpet where a lamp has broken and been visibly cleaned up, even weeks after the cleanup, can elevate the mercury readings over the MAAG in an un-vented room.

Some container types were found to be better than others for containing mercury emissions from breakage. Of the containers tested, a glass jar with a metal cover and gum seal contained the mercury vapor best. Double re-sealable polyethylene bags, on the other hand, did not appear to retard the migration of mercury adequately to maintain room air concentrations below the MAAG. Other containers fell somewhere in the middle between the glass and double re-sealable polyethylene bags for retarding mercury vapor migration. The significance of this issue is that cleanup material may remain in the home for some period of time and/or be transported inside a closed vehicle, exposing occupants to avoidable mercury vapors when improperly contained.

The decision on whether or not to remove carpet where there was a broken lamp may depend on a number of factors including the location of the carpet (e.g. where a child plays or where the carpet is frequently agitated), the occupants of the household, or possibly the type of lamp broken. Finally, it is unclear what the exact health risks are from exposure to low levels of elemental mercury, especially for sensitive populations, so advising for the careful handling and thoughtful placement of CFLs may be important. Based on this study, DEP modified the cleanup guidance for a broken CFL (see Appendix E).

http://www.maine.gov/dep/rwm/homeowner/cflreport.htm

Full report...

http://www.maine.gov/dep/rwm/homeowner/cflreport/cflreport.pdf

Compact fluorescent lamps - those spiral, energy-efficient bulbs popular as a device to combat global warming - can pose a small risk of mercury poisoning to infants, young children, and pregnant women if they break, two reports concluded yesterday.
more stories like this

But the reports, issued by the state of Maine and the Vermont-based Mercury Policy Project, urged homeowners to keep using compact fluorescents because their energy-saving benefits far outweigh the risk posed by mercury released from a broken lamp.

They said most danger could be avoided if people exercised common-sense caution, such as not using compact fluorescents in table lamps that could be knocked over by children or pets and properly cleaning up broken bulbs.

The US Environmental Protection Agency and the states of Massachusetts and Vermont said yesterday that, based on the Maine study, they are revising their recommendations for where to use compact fluorescents in a home and how to clean up when one breaks.

"Using compact fluorescent bulbs is still the brightest idea out there," said Michael Bender, director of the Mercury Policy Project, a nonprofit organization that works to eliminate mercury use. "The message is: People should not be afraid but informed and prepared and learn how to dispose of them properly."

For the Maine study, researchers shattered 65 compact fluorescents to test air quality and cleanup methods. They found that, in many cases, immediately after the bulb was broken - and sometimes even after a cleanup was attempted - levels of mercury vapor exceeded federal guidelines for chronic exposure by as much as 100 times.

There is no federal guideline for acute exposure. Some states, including Maine, use the chronic exposure level as their overall standard, while others, such as California, have chosen higher levels for acute exposure. Still, the mercury vapor released by the bulbs in the Maine study exceeded even those higher levels.

Disposal regulations vary from state to state, with some requiring broken compact fluorescent light bulbs, to be disposed of as household hazardous waste. Most states allow intact compact fluorescents to be thrown away, but some - such as Vermont, Minnesota, and California - ban disposal in trash, according to Bender.

More than 290 million compact fluorescents carrying the EPA's "Energy Star" label sold last year, nearly double the number in 2006. Compact fluorescents now make up 20 percent of the US light bulb market, and sales are all but guaranteed to grow: A new law requires lights to become much more energy-efficient starting in 2012.

According to the US Department of Energy, if every household replaced just one light bulb with a compact fluorescent, the United States would save more than $600 million each year in energy costs and prevent greenhouse gas emissions equal to 800,000 cars.

But compact fluorescents can contain from 1 to 30 milligrams of mercury, according to the Mercury Policy Project. The nonprofit cited a New Jersey study that estimated that about 2 to 4 tons of the element are released into the environment in the United States each year from compact fluorescents. That number is expected to grow as sales do. In comparison, about 48 tons of mercury is released into the environment by power plants each year, according to federal statistics.

"People should continue to support CFLs until there are mercury-free alternatives available," said Cindy Luppi of Clean Water Action, a local advocacy group.

http://www.boston.com/news/local/articles/2008/02/26/mercury_leaks_found_as_new_bulbs_break/

On March 13, Brandy Bridges was installing some of the two dozen CFL (compact fluorescent lamp) bulbs she had purchased in an attempt to save money on her energy bill.

One month later, though, Bridges is paying much more than she had ever expected to.

On that Tuesday, Bridges was installing one of the spiral-shaped light bulbs in her 7-year-old daughter’s bedroom. Suddenly, the bulb plummeted to the floor, breaking on the shag carpet.

Bridges, who was wary of the dangers of cleaning up a fluorescent bulb, called The Home Depot where she purchased them. She was told that the bulbs had mercury in them and that she should not vacuum the area where the bulb had broken. Bridges was directed to call the Poison Control hotline.

Poison Control directed her to the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the Department of Environmental Protection.

Upon reaching the DEP the next day, the agency offered to send a specialist out to Bridges’ house to test the air levels. The specialist arrived soon after the phone conversation and began testing the downstairs, where he found safe levels of mercury — below the state’s limit of 300 ng/m3 (nanograms per cubic meter).

In the daughter’s bedroom, the levels remained well below the 300 mark, except for near the carpet where the bulb broke. There the mercury levels spiked to 1,939 ng/m3. On a bag of toys that bulb fragments had landed on, the levels of mercury were 556 ng/m3.

Bridges was told by the specialist not to clean up the bulb and mercury powder by herself. He recommended the Clean Harbors Environmental Services branch in Hampden.

Clean Harbors gave Bridges a low-ball estimate of $2,000, based on what she described, to clean up the room properly. The work entailed removing anything with levels greater than 300 ng/m3, including the carpeting.

One month later, Bridges’ daughter’s bedroom remains sealed off with plastic “to avoid any dust blowing around” and to keep the family’s pets from going in and out of the room.
http://ellsworthmaine.com/site/index.php/200704127446/Latest/Fluorescent-Bulb-Break-Creates-Costly-Hassle.html

UV Light from CFLs are causing skin sensitivity issues and migraines, because they do not have a prismatic diffuser and because of "dirty electricity". 30 minutes. (16:9 Global TV; Jan. 9, 2009)

While compact fluorescent lights save energy, they pose a health risk if broken in the home. They also pose a disposal hazard. (WorldNetDaily; Apr. 16, 2007)

The larger health risk with any fluorescent tube is the phosphors - they are rich in beryllium (a known and undisputed carcinogen) and heavy metals like strontium.

Ever seen the results of a cut from a broken fluorescent tube - they get infected quickly and are very slow to heal, usually leaving some ugly scar tissue. The phosphor is the culprit.

http://vodpod.com/watch/1270032-just-how-safe

http://hectorowen.blogspot.com/2009/05/cfls-make-people-sick.html

http://peswiki.com/index.php/Directory:Compact_Fluorescent_Lighting_(CFL)_Downsides

http://www.maccompanion.com/macc/archives/February2009/Greenware/UnintendedConsequences.htm

WASHINGTON – Some of the richest men and women in the world met secretly recently in New York to conspire on using their vast wealth to bring the world's population growth under control.

The meeting included some of the biggest names in the "billionaires club," according to the London Times – Bill Gates, David Rockefeller, Ted Turner, Oprah Winfrey, Warren Buffett, George Soros and Michael Bloomberg.

The meeting at the home of Sir Paul Nurse, a British Nobel Prize-winning biochemist and president of Rockefeller University, was the inspiration of Gates and took place three weeks ago.

"The informal afternoon session was so discreet that some of the billionaires' aides were told they were at 'security briefings,'" the Times reported today.

Stacy Palmer, editor of the Chronicle of Philanthropy, speculated that the secrecy surrounding the meeting may have been due to concern that "they don’t want to be seen as a global cabal."


http://www.wnd.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=99105


The philanthropists who attended a summit convened on the initiative of Bill Gates, the Microsoft co-founder, discussed joining forces to overcome political and religious obstacles to change.

Described as the Good Club by one insider it included David Rockefeller Jr, the patriarch of America’s wealthiest dynasty, Warren Buffett and George Soros, the financiers, Michael Bloomberg, the mayor of New York, and the media moguls Ted Turner and Oprah Winfrey.

These members, along with Gates, have given away more than £45 billion since 1996 to causes ranging from health programmes in developing countries to ghetto schools nearer to home.

They gathered at the home of Sir Paul Nurse, a British Nobel prize biochemist and president of the private Rockefeller University, in Manhattan on May 5. The informal afternoon session was so discreet that some of the billionaires’ aides were told they were at “security briefings”.

Gates, 53, who is giving away most of his fortune, argued that healthier families, freed from malaria and extreme poverty, would change their habits and have fewer children within half a generation.

At a conference in Long Beach, California, last February, he had made similar points. “Official projections say the world’s population will peak at 9.3 billion [up from 6.6 billion today] but with charitable initiatives, such as better reproductive healthcare, we think we can cap that at 8.3 billion,” Gates said then.

Patricia Stonesifer, former chief executive of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which gives more than £2 billion a year to good causes, attended the Rockefeller summit. She said the billionaires met to “discuss how to increase giving” and they intended to “continue the dialogue” over the next few months.

Another guest said there was “nothing as crude as a vote” but a consensus emerged that they would back a strategy in which population growth would be tackled as a potentially disastrous environmental, social and industrial threat.

“This is something so nightmarish that everyone in this group agreed it needs big-brain answers,” said the guest. “They need to be independent of government agencies, which are unable to head off the disaster we all see looming.”

Why all the secrecy? “They wanted to speak rich to rich without worrying anything they said would end up in the newspapers, painting them as an alternative world government,” he said.


http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/us_and_americas/article6350303.ece


Wonder if any of these industry leaders has ownership in the lightbulb industry?

SEE THE LIGHT???

For more detail see my other related posts....


http://yophat.blogspot.com/2009/06/skin-deep.html

http://yophat.blogspot.com/2009/06/food-production.html

http://yophat.blogspot.com/2009/06/codex-alimentarius.html

http://yophat.blogspot.com/2009/06/agenda-21.html

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