Saturday, December 22, 2007
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
As Malkin points out, this ban brings even further into focus some of the dangers posed by compact florescent light (CFL) bulbs--dangers that private and governmental agencies have yet to address fully. For many, the (relatively) high levels of mercury contained in florescent bulbs is perhaps the most striking environmental and public health risk. If bulbs break, they can release dangerous levels of mercury into the air around them. NPR has an interesting story on some of the attempts to cope with the mercury risks of CFL bulbs. Disposal of the bulbs can be especially tricky:
The NIH has a summary of some of the health risks posed by mercury contamination:
"The problem with the bulbs is that they'll break before they get to the landfill. They'll break in containers, or they'll break in a dumpster or they'll break in the trucks. Workers may be exposed to very high levels of mercury when that happens," says John Skinner, executive director of the Solid Waste Association of North America, the trade group for the people who handle trash and recycling.
Skinner says when bulbs break near homes, they can contaminate the soil.
Elemental (metallic) mercury and all of its compounds are toxic, exposure to excessive levels can permanently damage or fatally injure the brain and kidneys. Elemental mercury can also be absorbed through the skin and cause allergic reactions. Ingestion of inorganic mercury compounds can cause severe renal and gastrointestinal damage. Organic compounds of mercury such as methyl mercury are considered the most toxic forms of the element. Exposures to very small amounts of these compounds can result in devastating neurological damage and death. For fetuses, infants and children, the primary health effects of mercury are on neurological development. Even low levels of mercury exposure such as result from mother's consumption methylmercury in dietary sources can adversely affect the brain and nervous system. Impacts on memory, attention, language and other skills have been found in children exposed to moderate levels in the womb.A CFL bulb that breaks in the home can lead to level of mercury for that room well over the safety levels established by authorities--and such a breakage can be very expensive to clean up.
There are even divisions within the environmentalist movement over these bulbs and their mercury level; some environmentalists think that such CFL bulbs shouldn't be purchased due to their high mercury content.
But there could be hope yet for incandescents: GE has announced that it hopes to introduce more efficient incandescents by 2012 that could meet future efficiency requirements.
The legal effort to block what is widely considered the nation’s toughest law against employers who hire illegal immigrants may be headed for a setback in Arizona after a federal judge said Tuesday that he was not inclined to stop the law from going into effect Jan. 1.
Judge Neil V. Wake of the Federal District Court in Phoenix said he would issue a ruling by the end of the week. But he said that the business and civil rights groups that had challenged Arizona’s law had erred by not initially suing the county attorneys who will enforce the law, which he suggested protects the rights of law-abiding workers.
The hearing was part of a feverish legal effort to block the law, which penalizes employers who knowingly hire illegal workers by suspending their business license on a first offense and revoking it for a second.
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
The 2006 Secure Fence Act specifically called for "two layers of reinforced fencing" and listed five specific sections of border where it should be installed. The new spending bill removes the two-tier requirement and the list of locations.
Duncan Hunter (R-CA) and Steve King (R-IA) aren't happy with the changes, and Minority leader Boehner's already placing blame on Congressional Democrats--though Sen. Hutchison (R-TX) seems to be one of the motivating figures behind this change.