Wireless Electrical and Electromagnetic Pollution News
16 March 2010
The dark side of the CFL
Friday, Jun. 12, 2009 | 05:44 PM AT
You've heard of CFLs, right? Compact fluorescent lightbulbs. (Cue the violins) They're supposed to be the best thing since sliced bread when it comes to energy efficiency in the home. Our own government wants to ban incandescent lightbulbs (so-called "regular" bulbs that use tungsten and give off heat) by 2012 and force folks to switch over to CFLs. But there's a huge problem with that.
And it might be costing you and your family your health!
What's wrong with CFLs?
Environmentally speaking, many things:
* Mercury: CFLs contain mercury, a known neurotoxin. This means that if a lightbulb breaks, you have a hazardous waste problem on your hands. Think I'm exaggerating? Here's what the EPA recommends you do in the case of a broken CFL:
Before Clean-up: Air Out the Room
* Have people and pets leave the room, and don't let anyone walk through the breakage area on their way out.
* 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 (such as a canning jar) or in a sealed plastic bag.
* Use sticky tape, such as duct tape, to pick up any remaining small glass fragments and powder.
* Wipe the area clean with damp paper towels or disposable wet wipes. Place towels in the glass jar or plastic bag.
* Do not use a vacuum or broom to clean up the broken bulb on hard surfaces.
Clean-up Steps for Carpeting or Rug
* Carefully pick up glass fragments and place them in a glass jar with metal lid (such as a canning jar) or in a sealed plastic bag.
* Use sticky tape, such as duct tape, to pick up any remaining small glass fragments and powder.
* 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, Bedding and Other Soft Materials
* If clothing or bedding materials come in direct contact with broken glass or mercury-containing powder from inside the bulb that may stick to the fabric, the clothing or bedding should be thrown away. Do not wash such clothing or bedding because mercury fragments in the clothing may contaminate the machine and/or pollute sewage.
* You can, however, wash clothing or other materials that have been exposed to the mercury vapor from a broken CFL, such as the clothing you are wearing when you cleaned up the broken CFL, as long as that clothing has not come into direct contact with the materials from the broken bulb.
* If shoes come into direct contact with broken glass or mercury-containing powder from the bulb, wipe them off with damp paper towels or disposable wet wipes. Place the towels or wipes in a glass jar or plastic bag for disposal.
Disposal of Clean-up Materials
* Immediately place all clean-up materials outdoors in a trash container or protected area for the next normal trash pickup.
* Wash your hands after disposing of the jars or plastic bags containing 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 and unbroken 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.
* Keep the central heating/air conditioning system shut off and the window open for at least 15 minutes after vacuuming is completed.
It gets worse...
Even if they don't break, CFLs could be harming your health in a more insidious way. By breaking creating what is known as "dirty electricity". (I suggest you follow that link so you can wrap your head around what dirty electricity is). Then, onwards...
* Diabetics: Dr. Magda Havas from Trent University studied diabetics in the context of EMF (electromagnetic frequencies). She found that those exposed to an environment with dirty electricity showed a spike in blood sugar in as little as half an hour! And when removed to a spot with clean power, their blood sugar dropped back to normal just as quickly. Which means that if you have Type 1 diabetes, you might actually need more insulin if you're in an environment with CFLs.
* Multiple Sclerosis: Dr Havas found that people with MS reported greater neurological symptoms when exposed to dirty power and improved dramatically when the power was cleaned up.
* Sick Building Syndrome: Dr Havas found that at one school in Wisconsin, kids and teachers were being treated for SBS. Once the buildings had been cleaned up of mold and other contaminants, the kids and teachers came back... and got sick all over again. They did an experiment and cleaned up the EMFs. Lo and behold, 37 of the kids who used inhalers for their asthma stopped needing them in school! And just so you don't think this is some sort of placebo effect, the kids still needed them at home in the same time period!
* Lupus: Folks with lupus can get radiation burns just from sitting next to a lamp with a CFL bulb in it! Even healthy folks shouldn't install CFLs in fixtures that are less than 1 metre away from their bodies (bedside lamps, reading lamps, desk or worktable lamps, etc). Global's 16 X 9 has a pretty chilling report on the subject.
* Migraines: There's compelling evidence that some people are electrically sensitive. Dr Havas's research suggests that as many as 1 in 3 Canadians has some degree of electrical sensitivity. And this may cause migraines. And what are these folks going to do in 2012 when there are likely going to be CFLs at work, at home and in the malls? Where will electrically sensitive people hide?
Do your own experiment
Dr Havas suggests that if you're suffering from frequent migraines, arthritic aches and pains, a feeling of chronic fatigue, stress, tiredness, rashes or other weird symptoms, try removing ALL the CFLs in your home for a month. See if your symptoms go away. And then decide accordingly.
What you should know
* CFLs chop up the electric current in your home causing dirty electricity.
* This affects sensitive electrical equipment and we now know that it affects human health as well.
* Having a CFL on your home's electrical circuit will create dirty electricity ALL ALONG THAT CIRCUIT, not just in the room where the bulb is on! This is why it's important to remove ALL your CFLs if you're doing Dr. Havas's suggested experiment.
* CFLs create dirty electricity and also give off harmful radio frequencies (that some sensitive people can actually hear!). They also give off UV rays that can harm the very young and those that suffer from lupus and other such illnesses.
* CFLs aren't the only source of dirty electricity. You should seriously consider bringing all your dimmers and DECT phones and baby monitors (just look on the phone cradle, it should be written on it) to the local eco centre for safe disposal. These items are especially dangerous because they give of harmful EMFs even when not in use!
Is there an energy efficient but safe alternative?
YES! Tom Nadas makes his living measuring the dirty electricity in people's homes and suggesting safer alternatives. He says that LED lightbulbs are the way of the future. Well, if we can get the government on board!
Why Nadas thinks LEDs are such a good idea:
* They're even more energy efficient than most CFLs
* They are virtually indestructible and contain no mercury
* They last a long, long time (great from both an economic and ecological perspective)
* Best of all, they don't give off dirty electricity
The cons of LEDs
* For the moment, they're expensive (just the way that CFLs were when they first came out)
* They don't give off a ton of light. Yet.
That's it! These are problems that could be fixed if there's enough demand and support. That's my opinion anyway. What's yours? Do you still think CFLs are a bright idea? Or are you going to take yours to an eco-centre? Leave me a comment or call (514) 597-5626.
UPDATE (June 15):
One thing I wanted to include but didn't get to was Health Canada's take on CFLs and dirty electricity.
This morning I spoke with Philippe Laroche at Health Canada's Environmental Health Department and he was nice enough to answer my questions.
1. Is Health Canada aware that people like Magda Havas are finding problems with CFLs?
Health Canada acknowledges that some Canadians may be concerned about the effects of compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) on human health, particularly those with certain health disorders and skin sensitivities, such as Xeroderma pigmentosum and Lupus erythematosus.
The research we are in the process of conducting will better enable us to take necessary action, if required, to protect both the general public and the small group of people with sensitivities to CFLs.
2. What is Health Canada's take on CFLs?
3. Is Health Canada doing its own research to verify or dispute Dr. Havas's claims?
Even though the bulk of scientific studies to date have not identified any health related issues associated with the use of these bulbs for the general population, Natural Resources Canada asked Health Canada to test the UV radiation levels in the bulbs. Through this testing Health Canada will acquire reliable technical data to assist in our risk evaluation and risk management. If the tests establish that there are reasons for concerns, Health Canada will take appropriate action by working with the manufacturers or distributors to correct any issues.
4. What is Health Canada's take on LED lights?
Health Canada has neither initiated an evaluation nor been requested to investigate light-emitting diode (LED) lights.
I'm happy to hear that Health Canada is looking into the issue of UV radiation and EMF effects. Their British counterpart, the Heath Protection Agency published this advisory on the subject. I got a lot of phone calls about this piece. Many were from folks who said they would remove the CFLs and perhaps try Dr Havas's proposed experiement. But some were rather angry and called EMF concerns ridiculous.
Given that even Health Canada is still doing its own research into the subject, this strong response surprises me. What do you think? Leave me a comment or call (514) 597-5626
Subject: cell phone story was #1 Time magazine 10 Most Popular Stories of the Week
By BRYAN WALSH
Your mobile emits a tiny amount of radiation. Is that safe in the long run?
Until the industry proves them safe (don't hold your breathe) the public deserves to be informed of the science and the dangers. The manuals tell us in tiny print not to hold them to our head or bodies. But the industry V.P. at the Maine hearing could not answer why- told the committee he "would get back to them" on that! Not to mention he was told by Maine's attorney general that he was wrong on preemption. And do they really have liability insurance? It is certainly not "junk science". The experts that testified were top-notch.
Thanks for interviewing me and thanks for the good report!
Terrorists 'could hijack new meters to cause blackouts'
Last updated at 2:02 AM on 28th February 2010
'Vulnerable': The smart meters are being installed in a £9bn drive
Controversial technology to be installed in homes across the country could be exploited by terrorists, according to a leaked intelligence report.
'Smart' meters, which allow power companies to read gas and electricity meters and change price tariffs remotely, are due to be installed in every home by 2020 in a £9billion drive by Energy Secretary Ed Miliband.
However, an 18-page briefing by the Cyber Security Operations Centre - a branch of Government spy agency GCHQ - says computer links between homes and power stations could be hacked into by terrorists, causing a nationwide blackout.
Mystery of Windermere Triangle solved: It wasn't Albert the ghost...it was a waitress's gadget
By James Tozer
The strange phenomenon has been baffling trippers to the scenic Lake District town for months. Dubbed the Windermere Triangle, it has mysteriously disabled electronic car key fobs, and has even caused alarms to go off for no apparent reason.
Some locals blamed a new set of traffic lights, while others claimed a ghost called Albert said to haunt the nearby bakery was responsible.
Windermere Triangle: Lazy Daisy's waitress Adele Brown pictured with the gadget, which has been interfering with electronic car keys in the area
Now, however, the enigma has been solved - and the culprit comes in the unassuming shape of a charming local tea shop named Lazy Daisy's Lakeland Kitchen.
Its waitresses use hand-held computer gadgets to take customers' orders, instantly beaming the details back to kitchen staff using radio waves.
Engineers called in to try to solve the problem - which was leaving frustrated motorists locked out of their cars on a daily basis - used spectrum analysers to trace it to the cafe.
It turned out that the frequency used by the device was interfering with the radio waves used by some electronic car key fobs, causing them to fail to respond.
Now Lazy Daisy's have had their gadgets retuned to a different frequency, and locals say the long-running glitch which has mystified them for more than a year has finally been eliminated.
They dubbed it the Windermere Triangle after the three-sided town centre spot which it affected - inspired by the infamous Bermuda Triangle, reputed to have cost the lives of hundreds of sailors and airmen.
Drivers who parked in one row of bays frequently found that either their fob wouldn't lock their car or that when they returned to it they couldn't unlock the doors.
With some modern cars incapable of being unlocked or started without the fob, they faced being stranded for hours until engineers could come and rescue them.
Local shopkeepers who frequently tried to help baffled motorists had their own theories - off-licence owner Anthony Dean felt a new set of traffic lights might be responsible, while bakers Phil and Ruth Eastwood blamed their ghost, nicknamed Albert.
After the conundrum was highlighted by the Daily Mail earlier in February, however, investigators from Ofcom - which regulates all radio transmissions - paid a visit to Windermere, which is inland from the lake of the same name.
Field engineer Dave Thornber quickly traced the problem to Lazy Daisy's.
'The source of the interference was a wireless order-taker used by waiting staff in the restaurant,' he said. 'The device is designed to use airwaves that neighbour those used by wireless car keys.'
Similar problems are caused by wireless gadgets such as hand-held chip-and-PIN machines and doorbell transmitters, and many such 'black spots' have arisen around the country.
In fact the cafe's system - installed 18 months ago - was legitimately using a different frequency. But it is thought that some malfunctioning car key fobs stray into the same range, and it is these that were hit.
'So interestingly the problem wasn't with this device, rather it was down to faulty car key fobs,' added Mr Thornber.
'They transmit radio signals at a very low power level to preserve battery life which meant that they were being drowned out.'
This week Lazy Daisy's owner Tony Benton arranged for it to be retuned, and since then no strandings have been reported.
No offence was being committed so no further action is being taken.
'It took just five minutes to sort out, and it seems to be fine now,' said Mr Benton.
'Tourism is very important for this area, and this means people can come and enjoy visiting while being confident of getting back in their cars when it's time to leave.'
By Rycharde Manne | March 12th 2010 12:46 PM
The first cases of Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity (often referred to as electro-hypersensitivity or even EHS) were studied in the 1970s and yet decades later few people are even aware of the condition. We living human beings are more than just flesh and blood; we are also a highly complex electromagnetic system. This also means that we interact with external electromagnetic radiation (EMR). But try switching off every single electrical device in your home and work and ponder on how dependent we now are on these devices. The problem is that no importance is given to how detrimental all this EMR is to human health.
Before we look at common symptoms of electro-hypersensitivity it is worth noting that there is usually one trigger event that then sets off a general reaction to further sources of electromagnetic frequencies (EMF). In the early days of studying this phenomenon the most common trigger was working with a new computer - more specifically a new monitor. People tend to sit much closer to a computer monitor than they ever would a TV set so that the EMR coming from the cathode ray tube (CRT) is also that much stronger. The phasing out of CRTs to be replaced by LCD and plasma screens is welcomed but even these new screens emit some radiation. However, at the same time we are seeing an explosion of pulsed EMF signals from mobile phone microwaves and various wireless protocols from Bluetooth through to Wifi and WiMax. Finding yourself very close to a cellphone base station can also be a trigger - and in a city this is very likely to happen without you even knowing about it!
The most common reaction for a person sensitive to electromagnetic frequencies is a warm burning sensation in the area most affected. This could be the face or one side of the head, or even a general burning sensation throughout the body. It is often described as similar to being sunburnt. There may also be physical signs such as skin rashes or blemishes as well as eye problems and a feeling that one's mucus membranes have dried up. Below is a list of the most common symptoms of electromagnetic hypersensitivity.
= A warm or burning sensation in the face somewhat like feeling sunburnt
= A tingling or prickling sensation across the face or other parts of the body
= Extreme dryness of mucus membranes such as the back of the throat and eyes
= A swelling of the mucus membranes such as nose, throat, ears and sinuses without any infectious cause
= Problems with concentration, loss of memory and dizziness
= A feeling of impending influenza (flu) that somehow never quite breaks out
= Headaches and nausea
= Teeth and jaw pains
= Aches and pains in muscles and joints
= Cardiac palpitations
Some of these symptoms can be put down to lethargy and possibly stress but all are obvious signs of an autoimmune reaction to something in your life. For EHS to be considered you have to think back to before you felt this way. Has something changed in your environment? Have you or your workplace purchased some new electronic equipment? Have you or a neighbour installed a home Wifi system? Sadly, there is currently no cure to electro-hypersensitivity apart from shielding oneself from the offending sources.
So before spending money on an EMF sensing device or a professional EMF engineer it is worth doing your own experiments in removing potential sources of electromagnetic pollution. As EMF is invisible to the eye and all-pervading you may even have to go outside the city into the country - making sure you are not accidentally near a phone mast planted on top of that idyllic mountain. In the extreme, remove yourself completely from electrical equipment, not just modern electronics but anything connected to the electricity grid. Yes, this means going camping!
If you really must take your mobile phone for emergencies make sure that for the sake of the experiment you not only switch it off but also remove the battery.
If you feel much better by removing the EMRs in your life then become even more attuned to how you feel going back into your "normal" daily routine. Do fluorescent lights give you a headache? Is the mains hum the source of discomfort? Is it your cellphone or even driving in a car? A car emits powerful EMR from the alternator and spark plugs. If you manage to locate the source then you can start to consider your options. Some countries classify electro-hypersensitivity as a disability and may offer assistance. Otherwise the only choices at the moment are to shield yourself, either with various products to make your home as electromagnetically clean as possible or to change location to somewhere that has less electromagnetic pollution.
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