Green Buckeye RN

Newsletter: Vol. 1, No. 1: April 2008

Green Buckeye RN Newsletter: Vol. 1, No. 1: April 2008

>>IN THE HOME: CFLs: Those Funny Looking Light Bulbs
>>IN THE WORKPLACE/COMMUNITY: Fluorescent Lamps: An Opportunity to Save

IN THE HOME: CFLs: Those Funny Looking Light Bulbs

fluorescence:  luminescence that is caused by the absorption of radiation at one wave-length followed by nearly immediate reradiation, usually at a different wavelength and that ceases almost at once when the incident radiation stops

fluorescent lamp: a tubular electric lamp having a coating of fluorescent material on its inner surface and containing mercury vapor whose bombardment by electrons from the cathode provides ultraviolet light which causes the material to emit visible light

…Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary 10th Edition, 1999

We’ve certainly seen them, those light bulbs reminiscent of Doctor Frankenstein’s laboratory with their twists and coils and glowing light.  They are showing up in the grocery, hardware, and big box stores with regularity.  Some retailers are even pledging to offer CFLs exclusively.  So what are these mutant lights and why are they seemingly so important?  And the bigger question, are they safe or should they be hastily sent back to the monster’s den?

Compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) or lamps, as they are sometimes called, are energy-efficient when compared to the traditional incandescent light bulb…three times more efficient according to the Sierra Club.  Because they last longer and require less electricity to operate over time, savings are made in toxic emissions from power plants, especially coal-fired power plants, of which Ohio has more than a few.  Incandescents typically have a life-span of 1,500 hours compared to the CFL’s 10,000 hours. 

Users of CFLs sometimes complain about reduced brightness.  CFLs may require a brief warm-up time to reach their full brightness and will lose brightness over time.  Select a CFL that has more lumens (brightness) than the incandescent that you currently use to achieve the level of brightness and clarity you need.  The Energy Star web site at  is very helpful for comparing the electricity requirements (wattage) and lumens (brightness) of each bulb, and selecting a CFL that will meet your wants.  Although the selections are fewer, some CFL applications are available to replace the dimmer switch or three-way incandescent light.

Beyond energy requirements and cost concerns, most consumers are interested in the safety of fluorescent lamps.   Presently, fluorescent lamps, big or small, contain mercury (Hg), a potent neurotoxin.  “Mercury vapor inside the tube is excited by electric current and emits ultraviolet light, which excites compounds painted on the inside of the glass, making them emit visible light (The Mercury Policy Project, 2008).”  Mercury-free fluorescent lights are not an option at present; however, the mercury content of a light may vary dramatically from manufacturer to manufacturer, as much as 1-30 mgs.
Some manufacturers have pledged to offer CFLs with 5 mg. or less per lamp and Energy Star features CFLs with as little as 1-3 mg. per lamp. 

The major safety concern, of course, is the risk of mercury spills in the home and who is likely to be impacted if a lamp is broken.  Infants and toddlers who spend more time on the floor and have higher respiratory rates are most at risk for the adverse health effects of mercury vapors; and remember, mercury vapors are colorless and odorless.

To clean up a spill at home:

If breakage occurred on upholstered furniture, pillows, rugs, or a carpet, the area should not be vacuumed.  If the contaminated furniture or rug is in a child’s bedroom or other area frequented by a child, the article should be removed or the child removed from the contaminated area.

Better yet, takes some precautionary steps by using CFLs in places other than a child’s bedroom.  Avoid twisting the lamp by holding the glass tubes; instead, twist by holding on to the base.  Carefully place dead lamps in a closed and sturdy container that will prevent the lamp from breaking until they can be disposed of properly. 

For an excellent analysis of the issues involving CFLs, check out the Shedding Light report at

Now what’s this new lamp I’ve been hearing about…the LED???

Other References and Resources:

Ohio EPA:

Sierra Club.  Guidelines for Selecting, Distributing and Recycling Environmentally-Preferable Light Bulbs during Mass Giveaways.


>>Fluorescent Lamps: An Opportunity to Save

Workplaces of all kinds, including health care facilities, have utilized fluorescent lighting or lamps for many years because they require less energy, and therefore, save money.
A further saving can be engendered by avoiding breakage and the resultant mercury clean up costs, or by recycling spent lamps. 

In Ohio, recycled fluorescent lamps can be managed using the Universal Waste Rule, eliminating many of the record-keeping and training requirements of hazardous wastes such as mercury. 

Health care facilities can access excellent advice and written resources at the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency at or Hospitals for a Healthy Environment (H2E) at

I found H2E’s Fluorescent Lamp Recycling: 10 Steps to Implementing a Fluorescent Lamp Recycling Program and the Ohio EPA’s Fluorescent Lamps: What You Should Know and Universal Waste Rules for Handlers of Lamps especially helpful.

Find out what’s happening in your health care facility.

>>COOLEST GREEN NEWS: Free Recycling Through the Mail: U.S. Postal Service Starts Service in 1,500 Post Offices

Free and green. Those are the goals of a pilot program launched today by the U.S. Postal Service that allows customers to recycle small electronics and inkjet cartridges by mailing them free of charge. The “Mail Back” program helps consumers make more environmentally friendly choices, making it easier for customers to discard used or obsolete small electronics in an environmentally responsible way. Customers use free envelopes found in 1,500 Post Offices to mail back inkjet cartridges, PDAs, Blackberries, digital cameras, iPods and MP3 players – without having to pay for postage.

Postage is paid for by Clover Technologies Group, a nationally recognized company that recycles, remanufactures and remarkets inkjet cartridges, laser cartridges and small electronics. If the electronic item or cartridges cannot be refurbished and resold, its component parts are reused to refurbish other items, or the parts are broken down further and the materials are recycled. Clover Technologies Group has a “zero waste to landfill” policy: it does everything it can to avoid contributing any materials to the nation’s landfills.

The pilot is set for 10 areas across the country, including Washington, D.C., Chicago, Los Angeles and San Diego, but could become a national program this fall if the pilot program proves successful.
To read the entire story, go to


Itching to get involved? Whatever your environmental passion, there’s a place for you.
Visit the following websites:

Audubon Society of Ohio

Clean Fuels Ohio

Earth Day Coalition (Cleveland)

Environment Ohio

Greater Ohio

Ohio Environmental Council

Ohio League of Conservation Voters


Sierra Club: Ohio Chapter

For a more extensive list of Ohio Environmental organizations, visit


** 2008 State of the Evidence: The Connection Between Breast Cancer and
the Environment, and the accompanying 6-page Advocate’s Guide are now available at These publications are ready for download at no cost or you may order a free printed copy. It’s time to figure out why the breast cancer rate has changed from 1 in 22 women fifty years ago to 1 in eight.

To supplement your reading on this topic, visit the Silent Spring Institute at and explore their database of chemicals causing breast tumors in animals and over 400 human breast cancer studies.

** Exposed: The Toxic Chemistry of Everyday Products by Mark Schapiro chronicles the rise of the chemical age since World War II. The surprising realization that many of the miracle chemicals that made life easier also resulted in a more toxic world as evidenced by the breakdown products of various chemicals in our blood, urine, and fat stores.

The Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), often referred to as “toss-ka,” was intended to provide oversight and control of the sudden surge of chemical use in industry, agriculture, and everyday household processes. Thirty plus years later, 95% of all chemicals have never been tested for toxicity or impact on human health, let alone the environment.

** Healthy Business Strategies for Transforming the Toxic Chemical Economy available for download at
Find out how other companies, including Kaiser Permanente, altered their chemical foot print. A Clean Production Action project.


** Twenty organizations and 5,000 citizens lead by the Sierra Club filed a petition with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) asking for rulemaking regarding formaldehyde from composite wood products. The off-gassing of formaldehyde, a human carcinogen, in FEMA trailers, eventually resulted in the transfer of citizens to less toxic, it is hoped, housing. (March, 2008)

** On March 12th the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a critical tightening of the health-based national Ambient Air Quality Standard for ozone. A tighter ozone national air quality standard means federal, state, and local governments must clean up much more of this widespread and deadly air pollutant. Unfortunately, the EPA ignored the unanimous recommendations of their outside expert scientists, as well as the recommendation that the American Lung Association and 15 other national medical and public health societies had made for an even stronger standard that truly protected public health. (American Lung Action Network Association, March 2008)

** House Bill 416: The Lake Erie Compact. A plan to manage the withdrawal of water from the Great Lakes that will prevent outside interests from withdrawing and shipping the water to other parts of the world. Former Governor Taft led the way on this process.
(Ohio League of conservation voters: Conservation Scorecard 2007)

** The Clean Ohio Fund (2000) is a program designed to protect Ohio’s natural areas and family farms, increase development of recreational trails and clean-up brownfields. Appropriations have ended and the program will die without further action. (Ohio League of Conservation Voters: Conservation Scorecard 2007)

CLEANMED May 20-22, 2008
Pittsburgh, PA • Hilton Pittsburgh

The Global Conference on Environmentally Sustainable Health Care

Join health care leaders, product vendors, purchasing directors, food service directors, health care providers and other health care decision-makers to discuss the latest trends in:
• Nutritious, Sustainable Foods and Food Systems
• Environmentally Preferable Purchasing
• Energy Efficiency
• Green Building
• Safer Materials and Healthy Chemical Policies
• Green Electronics
• Environmentally Preferable Medical Waste Treatment and Disposal • Waste Reduction and Recycling
For agenda and registration, go to


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