Energy Eco-Activists

Eco-Activists are at work in our state and federal legislatures.  The Eco-Activists are enabled by our elected officials who have lost touch with the citizens they are to represent and apparently care little about the legislation they support.

As is typical of those who wish to advance an agenda that would, under scrutiny, not pass the public's sensibility test, legislation is named and sold to the public to elicit some emotional response or objective.  Who could possibly be against energy independence and security?  And so, as an example, we have the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.  In what has now become the typical ploy of passing legislation, the bill is voluminous and written so as not to be easily understood.  It also goes without saying that our elected, faithful public servants have not likely read or understand most of what they voted for or signed into law. 

Let's look in detail at one small aspect of this law that affects every one of us, the required phase-out of incandescent light bulbs and promotion of the use of compact fluorescent lights (CFLs).  Setting aside the rather bizarre notion that the federal government should dictate the type of lighting in our homes, the story goes that we uneducated masses are too dim to know that with just a small savings of electricity, our emissions from power plants will be dramatically reduced, the notion of man-induced global warming ever present in the Eco-Activist's minds.

At this point, the Eco-Activists target incandescent light bulbs, bulbs that have provided cheap and effective lighting since their invention in the 1800's.  The Eco-Activists have now determined these bulbs are inefficient in their delivery of lighting to our homes and office;  transition to the Eco-Activists' favorite tool, the politician. 

Following the requisite delivery of tribute (typically in the form of cash donations and/or delivery of votes) to our progressive, advanced thinker politician, the politician's appeal to his constituent masses is that such a slight change in light bulbs really isn't that strenuous of an activity. Yes maybe they cost a bit more and are not quite as bright, but, after all, this is for our nation's energy independence and security and how small an effort for such a noble cause.

Ever have a light bulb break accidentally or when changing a burned out bulb for a new one?  What the Eco-Activist hasn't identified and what their politician tool is likely unaware of is that as a component of the CFL bulb, mercury is present.  Let us now consider the following excerpts from the U.S. EPA's webpage that instructs us on what to do should one of our newly mandated CFLs break in our home:

Before Clean-up: Air Out the Room

-Open a window and leave the room for 15 minutes or more.

-Shut off the central forced-air heating/air conditioning system, if you have one.

Clean-Up Steps for Hard Surfaces

-Carefully scoop up glass pieces and powder using stiff paper or cardboard and place them in a glass jar with metal lid or in a sealed plastic bag.

-Use sticky tape, such as duct tape, to pick up any remaining small glass fragments and powder. 

Clean-up Steps for Carpeting

-If vacuuming is needed after all visible materials are removed, vacuum the area where the bulb was broken.

-Remove the vacuum bag (or empty and wipe the canister), and put the bag or vacuum debris in a sealed plastic bag.

Clean-up Steps for Clothing and Other Soft Materials

-If clothing or bedding materials come in direct contact with broken glass or mercury-containing powder from inside the bulb, the clothing or bedding should be thrown away.

-Do not wash such clothing or bedding because mercury fragments may contaminate the machine and/or pollute sewage. 

Disposal of Clean-up Materials

-Check with your local or state government about disposal requirements in your specific area. Some states do not allow such trash disposal. Instead, they require that broken mercury-containing bulbs be taken to a local recycling center.

Future Cleaning of Carpeting or Rug

-Air Out the Room During and After Vacuuming

-The next several times you vacuum, shut off the central forced-air heating/air conditioning system and open a window before vacuuming.

Such a small effort for such a high calling of energy independence and security?  It seems reasonable to ask, why such caution over a broken light bulb?  For that answer, let's turn to the Maine Department of Environmental Protection who thought to study our exposure to toxic mercury in our homes when we accidentally break a CFL. 

According to their Maine Compact Fluorescent Lamp Study mercury concentrations in their study room air often exceed 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, sometimes over 50,000, and possibly over 100,000 ng/m3 from the breakage of a singlecompact fluorescent lamp.  The MAAGs were established based on human exposure and mercury toxicological studies for the protection of human health. 

What about our health, children, pets, your loved ones?  For the answer to that question let's turn to the Department of Health and Human Services, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry federal website the ToxFAQs for mercury.  There we learn:

... the nervous system is very sensitive to all forms of mercury... Exposure to high levels of mercury can permanently damage the brain, kidneys, and developing fetus.  Effects on brain functioning may result in irritability, tremors, changes in vision or hearing, and memory problems....Short-term exposure to high levels of metallic mercury vapors may cause effects including lung damage, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, increases in blood pressure or heart rate, skin rashes, and eye irritation. 

With the addition of the mercury containing CFLs into our homes and offices, the cumulative risk to human health has increased, based on the hoax that is man-induced global warming.  It is time for Americans to turn out the lights on the Eco-Activists' agenda and their inept, enabling politicians.

Robert T. Smith is an environmental scientist who spends his days enjoying life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness with his family.
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