Friday, January 30, 2009

Cavendish Update 1/30/09 News/BRGN/Mercury

This issue of the Cavendish Update is made possible by the Cavendish Community and Conservation Association (CCCA), a non-profit membership organization that is dedicated to the conservation of land and natural resources and to the preservation of historic sites within the context of sustainable economic growth. FMI: PO Box 605, Cavendish VT 05142 or 802-226-7736

The 1/30/09 Cavendish Update Contains
1. Black River Good Neighbor February Needs
2. Cavendish in the News
3. What do CFL Light bulbs; Tuna Fish and Corn Syrup have in common?

1. Black River Good Neighbor February Needs
The following items are needed at the Food Shelf this coming month:
• Tooth Paste
• Toilet Paper
• Diapers for children a year old and bigger
• Detergent for both clothing and hand dish washing

Also needed are volunteers to do trash duty. If you have a truck or SUV that can hold bags of trash to be taken to Ludlow’s Transfer Station and are willing to volunteer please call Audrey Bridge at 802-228-3663. This requires a once a month commitment and takes about one hour. The Food Shelf and Thrift Shop are located at 105 Main Street in Ludlow.

2. Cavendish in the News
No through trucking on Depot Street: Vermont Journal

Cavendish Library’s Dinner and a Movie Series:

Cavendish Black and White Movie Series Returns

3. What do CFL Light bulbs; Tuna Fish and Corn Syrup have in common?
They all contain mercury, as do other fish and plants.

The following information is provided as a follow up to the article in last week’s Cavendish Update on CFL (compact fluorescent light bulbs) for those subscribers who are concerned about mercury. As it happens, a study was released this week in the journal Environmental Health, which documents that mercury was found in nearly 50 percent of tested samples of commercial high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). Further, a separate study by the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) detected mercury in nearly one-third of 55 popular brand name food and beverage products where HFCS is the first or second highest labeled ingredient-including products by Quaker, Hershey's, Kraft and Smucker's. HFCS use has skyrocketed in recent decades as the sweetener has replaced sugar in many processed foods. HFCS is found in sweetened beverages, breads, cereals, breakfast bars, lunchmeats, yogurts, soups and condiments. On average, Americans consume about 12 teaspoons per day of HFCS. Consumption by teenagers and other high consumers can be up to 80 percent above average levels.

Mercury is a naturally occurring metallic substance. Minute quantities of mercury are in air, water, soil, and all living matter. Mercury vaporizes into the air from natural soil deposits. Rain washes mercury out of the air and returns it to rivers, lakes, oceans, and the soil. This cycle of vaporization and washing-out has probably taken place since the earth formed. Because plants and animals evolved in the earth's environment, all contain trace quantities of mercury.

Mercury also enters the atmosphere via fuel combustion, incineration and industrial processes. In order to generate power for the grid, mercury is released into the atmosphere.

So is the amount of mercury in a CFL worth the risk? Consider the facts:
• Mercury is used in many household items: thermostats, fluorescent lights, batteries and switches for appliances, lights and automobiles. Exposure to large quantities of mercury in our air, water and fish we eat is a documented risk to human health. An extremely small amount of mercury—an average of four milligrams—is sealed within the glass tubing of a CFL. This is said to be about the size of the period at the end of this sentence. It is an essential, irreplaceable element in CFLs, and it’s what allows the bulb to be such an efficient light source. The mercury in a CFL is no threat to the environment unless the glass is broken.

• Ironically, a regular incandescent light bulb actually releases much more mercury into the environment than a CFL. CFLs reduce energy demand at the power plant and thus prevent mercury from entering our air, where it most affects our health. The highest source of mercury in our air comes from burning fossil fuels such as coal. A CFL uses up to 75% less energy than an incandescent light bulb and lasts up to 10 times longer. A power plant will emit 10mg of mercury to produce the electricity to run an incandescent bulb compared to only 2.4mg of mercury to run a CFL for the same time.

• CFLs can be recycled at the Cavendish Transfer Station. How the mercury is disposed of can be controlled versus having it emitted into the air from the power plant.

• Incandescent bulbs waste 90 percent of their energy generating heat. The "fuel" efficiency of a CFL is like replacing a car that gets 20 miles per gallon with one that gets 100 miles per gallon.

• Replacing incandescent bulbs with CFLs lowers the electrical bill for lighting up to 75%. If you replaced 20 75-watt incandescent bulbs with 23-watt CFLs, you would save 1,040 watts for every hour that the lamps burned. At five hours per day, this means saving over 2,000 kWh or about $208 back in your pocket every year. (Replace them with a 20-watt CFL and save more – but slightly less light.)

• Vermont-based Mercury Policy Project advocates say that while sensitive populations should take extra precautions to reduce risks associated with breakage, CFLs can and should still be used in everyone's homes until a nontoxic light bulb becomes available.

Some people complain about the lighting itself-doesn’t turn on quick enough, don’t like the color, what about dimmers etc. CFL technology has come along way. If you want to understand more about CFLs, and find some that will work well in your environment, call 802/226-226-7093 or drop by the Cavendish Solar Store on RT 131. They carry a broader array of lighting options than Wal Mart, where the prices may be cheaper but so are the choices.

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