Green News

Ultra-violet health concerns over CFLs (Compact Fluorescent Lights).

Posted by TheGreen on 01/07 at 02:35 PM
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We caught wind that there are new potential health issues with CFL's. This time, it is the potential Ultra Violet light that is emitted from CFLs. Although, all CFL's emit this wave length of light, some emit it at higher amounts than others.

GE's website has this to say:

Do light bulbs (such as compact fluorescent bulbs) give off hazardous amounts of ultraviolet (UV) light?

Regular fluorescent light bulbs used in your home and office do not produce a hazardous amount of ultraviolet light (UV). Most light sources, including fluorescent bulbs, emit a small amount of UV, but the UV produced by fluorescent light bulbs is far less than the amount produced by natural daylight. (Ultraviolet light rays are the light wavelengths that can cause sunburn and skin damage.)

Your safety is important to us; that's why, for all of our light bulbs designed for general public use, we strive to minimize the amount of UV light emitted.

If you're looking for a low-UV bulb for an especially sensitive area (like a photography dark room), try our Saf-T-Gard® bulbs. They block most ultraviolet light emissions, and they're also shatter-resistant.

The wikipedia has some good technical information:

Some manufacturers make CFL bulbs with an external nano-particle coating of titanium dioxide.[33] The manufacturer claims that the titanium dioxide when exposed to UV light produced by the CFL can neutralize odors and kill bacteria, viruses, and mold spores.

A PDF from Liverpool Univeristy has a PDF online that gives a fair amount of technical information on UV radiation from CFL bulbs. Here is an except:

New research by the Health Protection Agency (HPA) has shown that some energy saving Compact Fluorescent Light (CFL) bulbs can emit ultraviolet radiation which can lead to sunburn in some extreme circumstances. Precautionary advice is that open (single envelope) CFLs (Fig. 1) should not be used where people are in close proximity (i.e. closer than 30 cm or 1 ft) to the bare light bulb for over 1 hour a day. For such situations open CFLs should be replaced by the encapsulated (double envelope) type (Fig. 2). Alternatively, the lamp should be moved so that it is at least 30 cm or 1 ft away.

To give a little perspective to this train of thought, the Australia's Governmental agency for Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety (ARPANSA) has weighed in with some good information from their online fact sheet "Ultraviolet Radiation Emissions from Compact Fluorescent Lights":

At the measurement distance of 10 cms, which was considered to be the closest distance that people would be to the lamps, even in desk top applications, 4 of the CFLs had allowed exposure times shorter than 8 hours, while a further 2 CFLs had times of approximately 10 hours. For comparison purposes, the allowed exposure limits will be exceeded in typical midday summer sunshine in approximately 6 mins in Brisbane and 7 mins in Melbourne.

My take is simple: Live life in moderation and all will be fine. Our house is mostly CFL bulbed out now--meaning that we have mostly CFL bulbs throughout the house. Our savings, being in Quebec are not what one in say Ontario might see, but we like the light, and feel good about the small contribution we are making. 

One caveat discovered this year, don't use CFL bulbs in out door unheated locations. They don't last very long and are a pain to use in the winter when it takes 15 minutes for them to warm up. Apart from that, until the LED gets is next round of improvements with Nano technology coatings, we will sit tight.

About the author: TheGreen

Trash filled water vortex is collecting our plastics

Posted by TheGreen on 01/07 at 02:17 PM

There are five major ocean gyres--areas of ocean where the currents swirl around in a large circle, some the size of Texas. The two most prominent ones are in the North Pacific. These gyres have been dubbed “the Asian Trash Trail” the “Trash Vortex” or the “Eastern Garbage Patch”. The most popular visitor to these trash vortex's in the ocean are plastics. A large quantity in the form of plastic bottles, which can break down into smaller parts and float around for ages. According to this Greenpeace article, "The plastics can act as a sort of 'chemical sponge'. They can concentrate many of the most damaging of the pollutants found in the worlds oceans: the persistent organic pollutants (POPs).  So any animal eating these pieces of plastic debris will also be taking in highly toxic pollutants."

The very thing that makes plastic items useful to consumers, their durability and stability, also makes them a problem in marine environments. Around 100 million tonnes of plastic are produced each year of which about 10 percent ends up in the sea. About 20 percent of this is from ships and platforms, the rest from land.

To help you visualize the vortex, Greenpeace has an animated picture showing how the current congregate all the plastics into a small area in the pacific ocean.


Click here for the full animated version of this map.

About the author: TheGreen

Watching your waste

Posted by Environment Smart on 10/30 at 01:32 PM

I recently read a news story out of the U.K. about a group of women who were trying to shed the pounds from their waste, not their waist. They were apparently involved in an innovative scheme to help women cut their food waste and shopping bills in half. The idea was to use "simple, old-fashioned home economics". 

The National Federation of Women's Institutes teamed up with the Waste & Resources Action Programme (Wrap), the Government's packaging waste agency, to create 10 "Love Food" groups. These groups teach women how to "waste less, be more efficient cooks and to cut shopping bills – with the aim of reducing the 6.7 million tons of food the UK wastes every year".

"We throw away a third of the food we buy in the UK, so to cut back that waste by 50 per cent is outstanding," said Julia Falcon, a campaign manager for Wrap. "We can see that groups who decide to share their experiences with each other, and tackle this problem together, work extremely well."

In this case, the women organised groups in 10 UK towns. With a grass-roots approach, they held monthly meetings where they discussed food storage, shopping, meal planning and preservation. It sounds much like a home-economics course, but the results were impressive. According to the article, "their households reduced waste from an average 4.7kg (10.4lbs) a week to 2.2kg (4.9lbs) a week".

The projects really highlights the environmental impact of food waste. According to Wrap's estimations, the UK's food waste generates "18 tons of carbon dioxide a year – the same as a fifth of the cars on the road. Much of the food thrown out ends up in landfill, where it emits methane, a damaging greenhouse gas".

I was intrigued by the results of the Women's Institute's initiative and wanted to learn more about WRAP's lovefoodhatewaste campaign. I found that the website is loaded with excellent tips on reducing your grocery bill, keeping your food fresh longer, time saving, recipes, food storage, measuring portions, and much more. It is well worth a bookmark!



About the author: Environment Smart

Environment to ensure majority federal government

Posted by Environment Smart on 10/01 at 11:24 AM
NewsGeneralPermalink is a project designed to try to oust the Conservative government and bring in a majority government that will put environmental issues in the forefront of its platform.

According to the movement, "We believe that the Harper Government’s collusion with the Bush White House to obstruct progress on climate change at recent international summits does not reflect how Canadians want their leaders to behave on the world stage. The Harper and the Conservative Party are simply not in step with what scientists say is needed, with Canadians' concerns, and with economic benefits of dealing with climate change."

"If those of us who care about the environment don’t work together across party lines, the pro-environment vote will be split as it was in the last election and Harper will be re-elected."

The site calculates what the likely vote totals would be for each party based on today's polling. Visiting the site regularly will allow you to follow what the trend is for your riding. The idea is that this will help you to vote strategically to form a majority government that will be environmentally proactive regardless of your plolitical affiliation.

"Government change not climate change
Vote smart so the majority wins"

About the author: Environment Smart