Soylent Greenwashing: The Compact Fluorescent Mandate, Mito-Epidemics and the Brave New Mercury Apologism
You tell everybody. Listen to me, Hatcher. You've gotta tell them! Soylent Green is people! We've gotta stop them somehow!
~ Detective Robert Thorn, Soylent Green, 1973 (From imbd: In an overpopulated futuristic Earth, a New York police detective finds himself marked for murder by government agents when he gets too close to a bizarre state secret involving the origins of a revolutionary and needed new foodstuff.)
Given the fact that the U.S. joined the “Minamata Convention on Mercury,” an international environmental agreement which supposedly addresses “specific human activities that contribute to widespread mercury pollution,”was anyone recently surprised to discover that regular incandescent bulbs are being phased out and were off the shelves by January 1st, 2014, and that mercury-containing compact fluorescent bulbs will mostly be sold in their place? Wasn’t the incandescent ban overturned a few years ago?
Good news first: some incandescent manufacturers are using the “rough service bulb” loophole to keep regular 40, 60, 75 and 100 watt bulbs available to consumers, sometimes at twice the cost, though typically they last longer and are less prone to breakage than the low-pressure mercury bulbs. The bad news is that most people are going to give in and buy CFL and most will not be properly disposed of, potentially dumping more mercury into an environment that is not only dangerously overburdened with mercury itself but with toxicants that compound the effects of mercury.
It’s known that mercury is both acutely and chronically toxic: it can outright kill or gradually poison at remarkably low levels, but little is commonly understood about the mechanisms by which mercury impacts health. Aside from mercury’s effects as a metalloestrogen that can alter the sexual characteristics and behavior of various species, one of mercury’s primary routes of damage is its targeting of mitochondria, leading to an array of seemingly unassociated conditions from cancer to autoimmune disease to cognitive decline and birth defects. This is why Rachel Carson focused on the mito-targeting properties of an increasing number of industrial chemical compounds in her 1962 book, The Silent Spring, which summarized that mitochondrial damage would be the downfall of many species of plants and animals, including humans: “Some of the defects and malformations in tomorrow’s children, grimly anticipated by the Office of Vital Statistics, will almost certainly be caused by these chemicals which permeate our outer and inner worlds.”
You know the expression “cut to the quick”? If mitochondria, as the organelle-engines which produce energy in every living cell in every living organism on earth, represent the “quick,” mercury would be the obsidian knife of the modern toxic arsenal. But part of the problem is that it’s not alone. In Mitochondria as a Target of Environmental Toxicants, Meyers et al. argue that,
The high lipid content of mitochondrial membranes facilitates accumulation of lipophilic compounds such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) (Backer and Weinstein, 1982) and some alkylating agents (Wunderlich et al., 1972). Cationic metals, such as lead, cadmium, mercury, and manganese, have also been shown to accumulate in mitochondria preferentially (Atchison and Hare, 1994; Bucio et al., 1999; Castellino and Aloj, 1969; Gavin et al., 1992; Sokolova et al., 2005a). These metals may accumulate in mitochondria due to both entry via calcium transporters (i.e., molecular mimicry) and chemical behavior resulting from their interactions with mitochondrial pH and charge.
The authors provide a short list of environmental mitochondrial toxins and drugs which cause mitochondrial damage and are suspected of proliferating an epidemic of mitochondrial-related diseases:
Adriamycin (Wallace, 2007; Mustonen and Kinnunen, 1993)
Nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors or NRTIs and analogs (Benhammou et al., 2007; Blanche et al., 1999; Chan, 2007; Claessens et al., 2003; Divi et al., 2010; Kohler and Lewis, 2007; McKenzie et al., 1995)
Valproic acid (Krähenbühl et al., 2000; Silva et al., 2008)
Mercury (Belyaeva et al., 2012; Farina et al., 2012; O’Hara et al., 2002)
Rotenone (Ishiguro et al., 2001; Li et al., 2003b; Shokolenko et al., 2009)
Paraquat (Martinez and Greenamyre, 2012)
Carbon monoxide and cyanide (Ninomiya-Tsuji, 2008)
Folate deficiency coupled with exposure to either cyanide or methanol (Sadun, 1998)
Particulate matter (Janssen et al., 2012; Hou et al., 2010; Xia et al., 2004)
Lipopolysaccharide (Suliman et al., 2003)
Cadmium and copper (Garceau et al., 2010; Sokolova et al., 2005a, b)
PAH quinones (Babu et al., 2005)
Dioxin (Biswas et al., 2008; Shertzer et al., 2006)
Acrolein (Jia et al., 2007)
Acrylamide (Lee et al., 2012)
Perfluorinated compounds (Starkov and Wallace, 2002; Walters et al., 2009)
Usnic acid (Guo et al., 2008; Joseph et al., 2009)
Methoxychlor (Gupta et al., 2006)
3-nitropropionate (Sabri, 1998)
Cigarette smoke (Ballinger et al., 1996; Cakir et al., 2007; Westbrook et al., 2010)
Manganese and lead (Bowman et al., 2011; Sabri, 1998; Zheng et al., 1998)
Arsenic (Dopp et al., 2008; Echaniz-Laguna et al., 2012; Naranmandura et al., 2011)
Pentachlorophenol (Valmas et al., 2008)
Mitochondrial toxins not specified on Meyers et al’s list:
Thimerosal (ethylmercury preservative in vaccines)
All classes of psychotropic drugs (Risperdal; antidepressants )
Trichlorethylene (fracking and industrial chemical)
Amines-based-pesticides (neonicotinoids and formamidines associated with bee colony collapse)
As for diseases caused by environmental mitochondrial damage, in a study titled Medication-Induced Mitochondrial Damage and Disease, Neustadt et al. document the mechanisms for mitochondrial injury in several conditions with explosively rising prevalence rates such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, dementia, Alzheimer's, epilepsy, migraine headaches, strokes, neuropathic pain, Parkinson's disease, ataxia, transient ischemic attack, cardiomyopathy, coronary artery disease, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, retinitis pigmentosa, diabetes, hepatitis C, and primary biliary cirrhosis.
In Drug-Induced Dementia: The Perfect Crime and other publications, Dr. Grace Jackson has included Niemann-Picks and autism on the list of environmentally-induced mitochondrial-mediated conditions, most of which were formerly believed to be solely genetic. Dr. Jackson’s summary of a case of chemotherapy- and valproic acid-induced autism in an 8 year old child entitled Chemo Brain echoed almost precisely the known pathway of damage to the human brain and nervous system caused by mercury.
Then in 2008, news of the Hannah Poling concession emerged, whose case had been decided on a theory of vaccine-induced autism via mitochondrial damage. Following the press release of Poling’s compensation, Hannah’s father, neurologist Jon Poling, referred to the role of mercury in acquired mitochondrial injury.
Because of mercury’s acute mitochondrial-toxic properties and its synergistic relationship with other chemical agents, unleashing another direct source of exposure on consumers in the form of mandated CFL bulbs doesn’t represent merely a drop in the bucket unless you’re talking about a “drop” of fire falling into a vast bucket of gasoline. On the other hand, the amount of carbon that would be reduced by the mandate really is just a drop of carbon in a virtual (and literal) sea of industrial CO2 emissions.
Though the general claim is that CFL would prevent the release of up to 15 million tons of CO2 per year, residential and commercial buildings represent just 8% of carbon emissions with a fraction of this produced by lighting. Meanwhile, 75% of carbon emissions are released by just 50 corporations, many of which also happen to lobby against solar, wind and other non-fossil power options which produce vastly less carbon and no mercury emissions.
I’m not a “climate change denier.” In fact I believe the threat of climate change—formerly and misleadingly known as global warming—is imminent, terrifying and not enough is being done to stop it. At the same time, any globally fear-inducing phenomenon like this can easily become subject to disaster capitalism schemes which are rarely helpful and often harmful. One example is the false conception that genetically modified crops will reduce carbon emissions pushed at the UN's climate change negotiations in order to have GM crops and industrial farming methods recognized (and financed) as climate change mitigation methods. Another similar example is the blatant corporate welfare involved in the forced light bulb swap: even in the face of promises that the prices of alternatives-to-incandescents will eventually come down, the traditionally static prices of incandescents are more likely the motive than CO2 reduction for the lamp industry’s mandate-lobbying to force consumers to purchase the more expensive and shorter-wear CFL or the even more expensive (and slightly carcinogenic) LED bulbs. Even if the switch reduced more than a tiny portion of carbon emissions, increasing individual human mercury exposure and increasing its release in the general environment doesn’t sound like a wise or necessary trade-off.
When CFL or the “curly light bulbs” first became popular several years ago and I realized they contained mercury, I ended up in a few stand-offs with “mainstream green” environmental types who, as they proposed that the “negligible risk” presented by mercury in fluorescents is vastly outweighed by the reduction in the carbon footprint, otherwise intelligent people would begin to sound too much like Frito Pendejo from Idiocracy arguing that “Brawndo’s got what plants crave.”
Our “outer and inner worlds” don’t need more mercury and the bulbs just aren’t safe. The EPA has taken to downplaying the risk of breakage when it once insisted on hazmat clean-up procedures. But even if the risks of mercury vapor release from exploding bulbs is minimized, as the London Times first reported in 2009, the rising demand for compact fluorescent lights that came in tow with their mandated use in the EU and UK has led to catastrophic mercury poisoning among workers in Chinese factories which manufacture the bulbs for western corporations.
But it seems like nobody in the west really cares that much about sick and dying Chinese. If forced to contend with the human toll of corporate globalization, maybe some will muse that a little mercury poisoning serves as payback or “karma” for deadly Chinese pet food additives and lead-laced toys unleashed on the American public over the past decade or so— as if impoverished Chinese factory workers originated these schemes and personally profited from them. And as if it won’t be our own children and our own groundwater poisoned by mandated mass use and mass disposal of yet more mercury-tainted products.
According to AirCycle Corporation, a company offering machines that more “safely” dispose of compact fluorescent bulbs, “Each year, an estimated 600 million fluorescent lamps are disposed of in US landfills, amounting to 30,000 pounds of mercury waste. Plus, the EPA reports that 187 incinerators nationwide emit approximately 70,000 total pounds of mercury into the environment annually.” The “incinerators” which the article refers to are coal-fired power plants. Mandated use of CFL will predictably cause an exponential increase in the number of bulbs ending up in landfills to the point that mercury pollution from bulb disposal could easily exceed coal-fired power pollution. Coal-fired power emissions have already been associated with proportionate increases in autism rates in proximate school districts and a long list of other health effects.
So what exactly is the mercury content of individual compact fluorescents? Most mainstream sources report only that the amount of mercury in the bulbs is about “100 times less than in old home thermometers.” Which is, again, exactly what?
Speaking of “drops,” because 1/70th of a teaspoon of mercury deposited on a 25-acre lake can make the fish from this source unsafe to eat, and because a minimum lethal dose of elemental mercury vapor in CFL, is 20–60 mg/kg body weight, it’s not really splitting hairs to request the hard numbers and morbid math. According to the graph compiled from manufacturers’ reports, the average mercury content of CFL for retail sale is about 9 mg in a range of 1.4 to 30 mg depending on brand. This says nothing about the average mercury content of bulbs which will actually be sold and used by consumers, an average which could fall either into the lower-mercury or higher-mercury range— with the higher number theoretically sufficient to kill a premature infant. Meanwhile a fever thermometer contains about 500 mg—enough to hypothetically kill, say, 8 to 15 premies or one mid-sized child.
At least Snopes.com reported the actual mercury content of old, banned fever thermometers when making the classic uninformative comparison, though the site didn’t refrain from typical false assurances: “the amount housed in each bulb is very small, about 4 or 5 milligrams, which in volume is about the size of the period at the end of a sentence. (By comparison, old-style mercury thermometers contain about 500 milligrams of mercury, an amount equal to the mercury found in 125 CFL bulbs.) And, provided the bulbs aren't broken open, none of that leaches into the home.”
From the start it’s easy to see the politicization of the common claim that CFL contain "100 times less mercury than a thermometer” because such an estimate would be based on the low end of mercury content of the lowest power CFL juxtaposed to a banned mercury-containing item which presents a less acute hazard (releasing heated mercury vapor vs. spilling liquid mercury, which turns to vapor more slowly). Another common fallacy—also credulously parroted by Snopes.com — is that mercury doesn’t leach from intact bulbs. Well, actually…
In new lamps, mercury vapor is released gradually in amounts that reach 1.3 mg or 30% of the total lamp inventory after four days.
Snopes, like a lot of commercial pop-verification sources, seems to carry out a kind of Orwellian, Ministry of Truthiness “Debunksec” service of grubbing popular credence by discrediting lesser or downright transparent urban legends (e.g., Elvis sightings, vigilante grannies, TV psychics) in order to gain unjustified authority over larger, more complex controversies, often arriving at conclusions that are curiously aligned with state or corporate power (e.g., whether Gardasil induces paralysis and death, or if the squalene adjuvant in some vaccines is safe) . As useful as it is to quick-check the veracity of the latest cyber virus scare or to show your friends that “knock-out game” buzz is largely a scarem hoax, the site’s reporting on key environmental issues, certain government policies and most things pharma is doubleplusungood.
For some background on the politics of mercury and determinations of safe limits, the following was borrowed from my own 2008 Amazon.com review of Dr. Jane Hightower's "Diagnosis: Mercury: Money, Politics and Poison," a book which documents several underreported facts and events surrounding the creation of heavy metal safety standards in the U.S.:
- The most influential studies of two of the most horrendous mass mercury poisonings in history— the Minimata fish poisoning and the Iraqi grain incident—were funded by the fishing industry and EPRI, the Electric Power Research Institute. It so happens that EPRI is the world's largest lobbying organization for coal-fired power, itself the greatest source of mercury pollution.
- Canada had its own "Minimata" mercury poisoning epidemic that killed and maimed countless Ojibwa Indians in the 1970's. Dow Chemical Corporation and the fishing industry controlled the outcome of human studies and censored independent researchers’ access to affected individuals.
- Saddam Hussein may have, in a direct way, controlled the data which formed the basis of the FDA's "NOEL" (No Observable Effect Level) standards for "safe" blood levels of mercury in humans in the wake of the Iraqi grain incident. All this while Hussein may have deliberately arranged for the bulk of tainted grain to be sent to areas of the country populated by perceived opponents of the Ba'athist regime.
- Most of the industry-hired researchers from the above tragedies were also the authors of the Seychelles Child Development study which initially reported no evidence of harm from extremely high blood levels of mercury in children and which has influenced FDA standards for allowable levels of mercury for human exposure. The Seychelles Island study was industry's answer to the previous Faroe Island study which, conversely, found considerable evidence of mercury's harm to infants and children from high fish consumption.
- Most of the aforementioned industry-hired researchers hailed from the University of Rochester, which took its funding from EPRI, the fishing industry and other financially concerned entities and which itself produced two of the studies upon which the pharmaceutical companies, the CDC, FDA and Congress forged a judicially influential "majority science" conception of the effects of mercury exposure on infants via vaccines.
Dr. Hightower has continued to sound the alarm on mercury politics and bad safety data , though unfortunately not many are listening. Leading up to the ban of mercury thermometers, there were more frank discussions of mercury risks. But, these days, likely due to the number of industries carrying a "mercury onus" for releasing products or emissions high in mercury coupled with politically inexpedient and persistent associations between environmental mercury, vaccine mercury and the autism and Alzheimer's epidemics, the warnings have become curiously floppy. This is compounded by the fact that the very industries carrying the onus for releasing mercury-containing emissions and products as well as other mitochondrial-toxic products and emissions also frequently fund and control research on mercury’s impact on health and the environment and fund the medical centers which are ground zero for tallying and documenting the human toll.
Is it fair to ask whether we’re barreling towards some sort of toxic species extinction faster, slower or at the same general velocity with which we’re killing the planet with carbon? Do we really have to choose between one or the other? Both are products of deregulation and, either way, mitochondrial injury may represent, as Meyers et al. and other researchers argue, a sort of “canvas” upon which many seemingly disparate modern chronic disease epidemics and gene mutations are painted.
And here’s one of the biggest caveats against allowing mercury-containing anything or mitochondrial-toxic anything to be used in proximity to your family: quite chillingly, both the diagnoses of mercury toxicity and mitochondrial disorder are repeatedly listed in child welfare literature as red flags for medical child abuse. In other words, if your child has the bad luck of incurring chronic mercury poisoning or attendant mitochondrial insufficiency and you approach the wrong clinician for help, you’re screwed. As much of a gas as it is to inhale, inject or swallow the second most toxic metal on earth, I’d recommend skipping the fun for that reason alone.
Obstacles in the Treatment of Medical Child Abuse by Thomas A. Roesler, Brown University.
There are more and more stories in the news of parents losing custody of children due to medical disagreement. It seems like one of the fastest routes to getting profiled with a controversial criminal diagnosis involving alleged medical abuse of dependents is to march into a corporate sponsored medical center declaring that one’s child suffers from mercury toxicity and/or mitochondrial disorder. And due to the bewildering criteria for Munchausen, which includes such things as a parent’s status as a medical professional or use of medically correct terminology, the more documentation provided to support certain diagnoses, the swifter the axe may fall.
[Justina Pelletier’s] parents accused the [Children’s Hospital Boston]and the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families of virtually kidnapping their daughter, and ignoring the medical advice of Dr. Mark Korson, the chief of metabolism at Tufts Medical Center. Korson had given Justina a working diagnosis of mitochondrial disorder over the past year…Since Justina’s regular doctor wasn’t available, a new team of doctors treating Justina at BCH reportedly said that mitochondrial disorder does not exist. They instead diagnosed Justina with somatoform disorder, a mental illness characterized by pain and gastrointestinal symptoms that have no identifiable physical cause.
It’s interesting that the tangled web of Children’s Hospital Boston’s corporate sponsorship list reads like the ultimate mitotoxin lobby: Big Polluter-invested Big Banks and communication conglomerates, pharma, Big Ag ( BCH donor Dunkin’ Donuts is owned by the Monsanto-tied Carlyle Group and many corporations on the donor roster are represented by the lobby giant Ogilvy Government Relations which also represents petroleum giants Chevron, the American Petroleum Institute, and the Association of International Automobile Manufacturers ).
As a side note, more detailed investigations are needed to look into the increasing practice of politicized state child snatching . Other than the financial motives involved in “child laundering,” the practice could too easily serve as potential means of reducing the statistical appearance of epidemics and forcing consumers to the toxic trough in the age of industrial disease. The type of mitochondrial disorder that Justina Pelletier suffers from may very well be a rare genetic form and not environmental. But since there’s no such thing as a genetic epidemic, the PR disaster is specifically epidemiological and once the “quota” for diagnoses threatens to exceed recorded “genetic” rates, any frantic fatwa to hide fallout probably wouldn’t discriminate too much over cause in individual cases. One way or another, the collateral—whose bodies and lab results may be the biggest whistles of the whistleblower era—are sometimes carted away and silenced like Charlton Heston’s Detective Thorn in Soylent’s final scene.
In any event, Soylent greenwashing is “people” in numerous ways, the industrial injury storm has been raging for more than 50 years and mitochondrial damage may be at the dead center of it. In 1962, John F. Kennedy, Robert Kennedy and Justice William Douglas erected the President’s Science Advisory Committee mainly to shield Rachel Carson from attacks by toxic industries after her publication of The Silent Spring.
What companies like American Cyanamid, Velsicol, and Monsanto would soon learn was that the Kennedy administration was setting up Big Chemical as the culprit of the planet's worst environmental desecrations...
President Kennedy was dead the next year, Rachel Carson the year after and Robert Kennedy a few years following, effectively removing some of the “onus” from certain industrial culprits—if not by dampening the intensity of the environmental movement then by reducing the specificity of the campaign launched by JFK, Carson and “the most important chronicle of this century for the human race."
But for now we’re just talking about lmercury in light bulbs—only one toxic culprit among many, though one that’s about to be even more ubiquitous. I’ll finish with two vying safety warnings from two different government sources— one stern warning on broken CFL from the National Institute of Health (which moved to reduce mercury within the entire NIH working environment a few years ago) and the other "mild alert" from the EPA. Unfortunately consumers are losing the power to choose which warning to heed as we’re pushed towards heavily greenwashed, politicized options.
“Stern Warning“ from the NIH:
…the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) recommends 0.2 μg/m3 level as a safe continual exposure limit for children (4). As an illustration of the effects of CFL breakage, the release of only 1 mg of Hg vapor (∼20% of the Hg inventory in a single CFL) into a 500 m3 room (10 × 10 × 5m) yields 2.0 μg/m3 or ten times the ATSDR-recommended level of 0.2 μg/m3 in the absence of ventilation.
There is limited information on the timing and extent of Hg vapor release from fractured lamps (1,2,5), especially the new CFLs. Jang et al. (1) report only 0.04−0.17% of the Hg as vapor, but this was a study of the phase partitioning within the bulb volume, not a study of the gradual evaporation and release characteristics upon fracture under atmospheric conditions, where we find much larger amounts of Hg vapor (see below). Following any mercury spill, hard surfaces can be cleaned, but in the absence of in situ treatment technologies, porous materials such as carpets or woodwork must be removed and discarded (4). Carpet vacuuming can release Hg vapor when large gas volumes are forced across the Hg-containing dust cake in the vacuum cleaner internal filter. If not removed, spilled Hg liquid will continue to release vapor over time and can spread to other sites through foot traffic. Most consumer information on CFLs claim there is no significant health risk from small numbers of broken lamps, and indeed, since the 1960s, examples of Hg poisoning from all sources have become rare (6). There is one report of Hg poisoning (acrodynia) in a child exposed to broken tube-type fluorescents in a detailed case study presented by Tunnessen et al. (6). Overall, there is significant motivation to improve our management of Hg exposures caused by accidental breakage of fluorescent lamps...
"Mild Alert" from the EPA:
Why is it important to clean up a broken CFL properly?
CFLs and other fluorescent light bulbs contain a small amount of mercury sealed within the glass tubing. When a fluorescent bulb breaks in your home, some of this mercury is released as mercury vapor. To minimize exposure to mercury vapor, EPA recommends that residents follow the cleanup and disposal steps described on this page.
What if I can't follow all the recommended steps? or I cleaned up a CFL but didn't do it properly?
Don't be alarmed; these steps are only precautions that reflect best practices for cleaning up a broken CFL. Keep in mind that CFLs contain a very small amount of mercury -- less than 1/100th of the amount in a mercury thermometer...
Adriana Gamondes is a contributing editor of Age of Autism. She lives with her husband and recovering twins, commuting between Massachusetts and Florida.
Youtube of an 2009 interview with Canadian toxicologist Dr. Magda Havas of Trent University - at about the 21 minute mark she talks about how CFLs are making people sick. Also, she says they should not be used with people who have epilepsy, migraines, etc.
Posted by: Linda | January 15, 2014 at 12:00 PM
Thank you, Jenny. I remember someone pointing out that the key thing and the common ground between all these various toxic substances and sources is the "route" by which the damage is done to cellular pathways. Different substances can cause virtually the same types of injuries. So I think 2014 should be the year that the specifics of Carson's and JFK's campaign should be resurrected and the year the public stops viewing cellular science as the "forbidden texts." The science feeds policy and policy is everyone's business.
Posted by: Adriana | January 10, 2014 at 01:52 AM
I think it's a great article, and science and the reporting of it, corrections included, are part of the process. Minor adjustments that don't take away from its overall import. To get caught up in merely the CFL part of the issue, though, is to do the article injustice. Any environmentalist or animal activist worth his salt knows the name Rachel Carson, but may not know how she translates to modern medicine. Adriana, you have pulled the various aspects of the problem into a coherent, useful essay.
Posted by: Jenny | January 09, 2014 at 12:52 PM
Thank you for all the insights and feedback. Blogging is a bit of a living, real time format and readers caught some gaffs. Not to Pravda-ize the process though-- comments were taken under consideration and corrections were made. :) There's a few gray areas though regarding typical claims of CLF manufacturers and typical "wisdom" on CFL that need more research. For instance, bulbs are low pressure. Some reports say the vacuum could potentially be breached without completely shattering the tubing like with higher-pressure bulbs. In theory, it sounds like you could cut open a blister pack of six seemingly intact CFL and get a face-full of magical pixie dust without realizing it. As someone mentioned, there's no secondary stopgap yet (to make them "organic," yikes) since the vapor leaks into the casing from the start. Looking into this issue is not exactly a short term project.
Posted by: Adriana | January 08, 2014 at 08:39 PM
Ouch, Benedetta. I hope you feel better!
Posted by: Linda | January 08, 2014 at 04:28 PM
I remember a Twilight Zone episode where this boy had to pass a test in order not to be killed. All children had to pass the test or die. Throughout the show you're thinking that he has to have a high score. The twist that you find out in the end, was that if he scored too high, if he was too intelligent, he was sentenced to death.
The Munchausen symptom of parents being too smart, of knowing the terminology, reminds me of that.
Posted by: Linda | January 08, 2014 at 03:05 PM
I thought you kind of stuck methyl onto mercury by mistake, in the fourth paragraph down from Heston's bloody nose picture.
But it was a packed filled - stuffed till nothing else could be stufed - informative article.
But I was not sure if maybe yo umeant methyl mercury because if you read the link right below it -- they are talking abot how to clean it up or even how to keep mercury from scattering around if broken.
I was not sure if they were trying to invent some kind of powder to dust around the room where one has been broken or if they were trying to put it on a coating outside or inside layer of the tube.
They were suggesting (I think- since I was a bit addled while I was reading it, for I had just finished a big fall from slipping on ice on my driveway while taking the trash down - chipped my tooth and really hurt my lower back and hip) --- that they were going to add carbon and sulfur to the coating -- to adhere the mercury to it if it broke.
Then that makes it organic.
Posted by: Benedetta | January 08, 2014 at 02:36 PM
Thank for the info. It shows that evil will try to penetrate any wall to destroy life. It means we should spread this info widely that all products with corn syrup (often disguised as glucose-fructose syrup) are toxic and cancerogenic and hence should be boycotted. We should bankrupt the companies which use this toxin.
Posted by: no-vac | January 08, 2014 at 11:57 AM
Thank you for this article. I became aware that CFL's were hazardous when I read an article in Prevention Magazine back in Jan 2010 on Electrosmog. But the article pointed out how those bulbs give off high EMFs. I don't remember mercury being mentioned. I bought a Trifield meter and tested myself and sure enough, there was a big difference (dimmer switches also give off high EMFs - got rid of those too). Last week I went to the store to buy whatever was left of the incandescents, and an employee told me that the CFLs are being phased out in favor of the LEDs. Not knowing anything about LEDs, I bought a couple to try them out and do some research. Thank you for the info on LEDs. I returned them yesterday.
FYI, the link to the Prevention article: http://www.prevention.com/health/healthy-living/electromagnetic-fields-and-your-health
The CFLs are specifically addressed in the section on page 3, "Transients: The Post- Modern Carcinogen".
Posted by: Linda | January 08, 2014 at 09:40 AM
Adriana, lots of info - thanks. However, your assertion that 30% of mercury inside fluorescent tubing escapes its impervious glass/electrode structure to a household environment is very, very wrong. The 30% you mention stays contained INTERNALLY within the partial-vacuum tubing.
I agree there is significant mercury released in landfills where the crushed tubing ends up.
Posted by: former lighting-technology consultant | January 08, 2014 at 08:14 AM
If one wanted to wax philosophical, one could really dive down into the ideas of greed, and darkness, and Satan ruling the underworld vs why God and light and not being greedy and being good stewards of (God's) green earth might be a better way to live. Mercury and gold (greed driving its mining - even Moses took issue w/those golden icons), mercury and coal (greed now driving its mining and maintenance of its role in society vs using sun and wind options which are readily available and non-toxic). Mercury contaminated sweeteners (residual from phosphorous mining, if I'm not mistaken), mercury contaminated iron ore dust (from mining) travelling the rail lines. God knows (though we might not for a while) what fracking (hydraulic mining) is going to bring up to the surface. If it's part of the "underworld" i.e. under the surface, maybe we just ought to leave it there instead of dancing with the devil. It only seems to give his minions something to do here on the surface :-)
So who are the suppliers/where is the vaccine mercury coming from before it is tooled into a vaccine additive? Let's talk about the supply chain.
Posted by: Jenny | January 08, 2014 at 07:24 AM
In recent years I've heard several environmentalists earnestly praise the anticipated energy savings from placing breakable bottles of neurotoxin in every room of every house in America.
And of course as those with common sense forewarned, most people vacuum their broken bulbs, or toss them into the regular trash, and have done little to reduce energy consumption or acquire solar or wind technology.
Posted by: nhokkanen | January 07, 2014 at 09:01 PM
Corn syrup to invade EU?
By Dave Keating - 19.12.2013 / 04:10 CET
From 2017, the EU will open its doors to high-fructose corn syrup, but cane sugar will remain restricted
EFSA paves way for EU high fructose corn syrup invasion
Posted by: Rosycurler | January 07, 2014 at 08:51 PM
Geoffrey-- thanks for the heads up. You're right about methylhg, it's a really dumb gaff and will be fixed with a note.
As far as the info on "incinerators"-- I did check this and found that the point is moot since coal fired power plants release approximately 70,000 LBs of mercury into the environment every year. Aircycle swapped the stats and used the figure for coal-fired emission: According to Sierra Club, '491 coal-fired power plants emit 78,367 lbs. of toxic mercury each year.' http://www.sierraclub.org/coal/map/ "70K LBs" is the figure most widely reported for coal-fired hg-release.
What I could have added but didn't was that some sources ( http://www.no-burn.org/downloads/Incinerator_Myths_vs_Facts%20Feb2012.pdf) report that waste incinerators release *14 times* more mercury than coal-fired plants. Two problems with this figure: it's not easy to verify the precise number for mercury release when filters are used, and, for the purposes of this piece, the autism studies by Palmer were regarding coal-fired plants and it's more widely known as a source. It's going to take some work to figure out if the reports on waste incinerators were a form of greenwashing put out by EPRI or the coal lobby. It might not be but like Hightower argues, there's a lot of smoke and mirrors involved in mercury politics. Is the incinerator vs. coal emission report more skewed by, say, the dental amalgam industry or the coal-fired power lobby?
Posted by: Adriana | January 07, 2014 at 07:53 PM
"In new lamps, mercury vapor is released gradually in amounts that reach 1.3 mg or 30% of the total lamp inventory after four days."
This also does not refer to intact lamps. If one goes to the results section, the text is
"Figure 1 shows time-resolved mercury release data from two CFL models. The release is initially rapid producing vapor concentrations from 200−800 μg/m3 during the first hour, which far exceed the OSHA occupational limits. The release decays on a time scale of hours and continues at significant rate for at least four days (data beyond 24 h not shown). The total Hg released after 24 h is 504 (13 W model) and 113 μg (for 9 W) by integration, which are 11.1% and 1.9% of the total Hg content specified by the vendors, respectively. Over 4 days (extended data not shown), the 13 W bulb released 1.34 mg or 30% of the total Hg."
However, the caption to Figure 1 plainly states that the data are for "catastrophic fracture at room temperature."
Posted by: Godfrey Wyl | January 07, 2014 at 07:51 PM
So if you break two or three CFL's on the kitchen floor... sweep it up, mop the floor after that, track that around the house for a few weeks....
How do you get that mercury out of your home ???
I assume there will someday be required "mercury home inspections" which will make many homes somewhat worthless.
Posted by: cmo | January 07, 2014 at 07:23 PM
We've looked into LED lights. I probably should have included links to it but perhaps that would make a good follow-up. Even if more expensive, LED are mercury free though reports on arsenic and lead content in LED and several carcinogenic chemicals vary between warning of big risks and small risks from breakage.
Posted by: Adriana | January 07, 2014 at 06:25 PM
While I'm no fan of CFLs, a couple of factual errors leap out:
"methyl mercury, the organic form of mercury in CFL"
CFLs contain elemental mercury vapor, not methyl mercury, which would be of no use in producing the UV that excites the phosphor.
"The 'incinerators' which the article refers to are coal-fired power plants."
The reference is to municipal waste incinerators, not coal-fired plants. The source also errs in claiming that the figure is due to the EPA (it seems to appear in many similar places); it comes from a 1990 report by Clean Water Action:
Posted by: Godfrey Wyl | January 07, 2014 at 06:19 PM
Thank you for this powerful compilation. I was just beginning to get a rudimentary understanding of where Hg might be lurking in our home and how to, as much as possible (seems impossible some days), keep it out when this move to force "greener" lighting with major accompanying push to switch to the curly bulbs was signed. Not quite as insane in rank as the push to get an annual mercury injection for one's health, everyone's health, or nine+ for each infant in their first 6 months, but it's up there.
Posted by: Jeannette Bishop | January 07, 2014 at 06:08 PM
Oh, I am sorry I mis stated in the last blog.
The "REAL" reason that CO2 is so important is everyone produces it if they are making a difference on this planet and not a rock. That is a lot of people and thus a lot of money. The real reason for worrying of CO2 ----so those with any powere at all can then figure out as many scams as they can think of to tax us, fine us, carbon trading us; till they have our last dime and we have to sit in the cold and the dark. Meanwhile those intertwined with the government and corparations live high on the hog - with as much money as the Dwarf King had in the "Hobbit" so much that it drew the dragon's attention.
Posted by: Benedetta | January 07, 2014 at 04:43 PM
Jenny's last question??? Does anyone know the answer?
Do you know what it is like to try to get those big long tubes to fit in a trash can????
Why the only ansewr around here is to put them in the feed sack and bust them outside in the yard. But they have a lot less mercury than the twisty tubes -- right?
So let me get this right; to diminish the production of the same stuff we breath out of our lungs CO2 we are going to increase the production of the second most deadly stuff that is known.
And the reason that they want to diminish Safe CO2 is because it might "they Think" maybe -- change the cliimate --a climate that can change any time depending on volcanic eruptions???
Remember 1977, 78 and 79 - winters you old timers? In the Eastern US??? Greenland's volcanoes.
Posted by: Benedetta | January 07, 2014 at 04:33 PM
Great article adrianna...maybe just maybe you can wake up some more of the right people
Posted by: channa brennon | January 07, 2014 at 04:12 PM
I've been very concerned about the mercury in light bulbs since I first discovered it was in the new "curvy" bulbs. I finally got rid of all the ones that were still lingering in my home.
Over the holidays I got into a bit of a heated discussion with my brother about the light bulbs with him urging the importance of moving away from the inefficient incandescent bulbs and me expressing my deep concern, no fear, over the "toxic" bulbs. This is when he told me that there is another option that I did not know about and that is LED light bulbs. They are Eco-Friendly and don't have lead or mercury. They also don't have UV or IR Radiation. And although they are pricey $8. to $20 each depending on brand, they last for over a decade.
I was also informed that the Reveal (incandescent)Bulbs by GE that have some energy efficacy will be staying on the shelves which is a nice choice.
I'm not at all taking way form all of the excellent points raised in this article but I think it's important that people know that there is an option besides those toxic mercury bulbs!!
Posted by: jan | January 07, 2014 at 03:15 PM
Below is another example how US govt allows corpo-criminals to poison American people, while European governments said NO to food poisoning. Also, in US soft drinks producers use toxic mercury loaded corn syrup in their products, while in Europe the same manufacturers use sugar. It is the American system of pseudodemocracy and massively corrupt government and the congress, which is at the core of corporate crime against humanity committed against Americans without punishment.
Posted by: no-vac | January 07, 2014 at 01:24 PM
Adriana, fantastic article, its just awful that so much damage is allowed to continue without any real urgency.
Posted by: Victor Pavlovic | January 07, 2014 at 12:15 PM
It is interesting that Europe has just banned all mercury containing bulbs, at the same time the US is banning the safe incandescent bulbs and enforcing use of toxic mercury loaded bulbs. US has become a global toxins' dumping ground. The same is true for poisonous vaccines and GMO products - the world massively rejects them, the US fascist government is forcing them on American population. (Fascism = corporatism, i.e. a merger of corporate and state powers).
Posted by: no-vac | January 07, 2014 at 11:39 AM
Thank you. Cold here too, even the cats stayed in. No sense breathing hg while we stay indoors for global freezing-flooding-blowing-sweltering.
Posted by: Adriana | January 07, 2014 at 11:35 AM
Nice article. A couple years ago I bought some full spectrum C. fluorescent bulbs from mercola. I liked the idea of full spectrum lighting helping boost general mood, etc. They ended up being too long to fit in any of my table lamps and some over my overhead lights, and so they went into a drawer until I could decide what to do. Then I read an article re: the mercury in them. Then I read an article about how putting dimmer switches on your light switch could save close to as much energy as a CFL, and without the mercury. There are other reasons why dimmer switches might not be a perfect solution, though, I think having to do w/ how they control the flow/flash of light and your brain's process of that kind of light. In the end, maybe installing things like solotube in your house, and going incandescent w or w/out a dimmer switch for evening lighting might be a good think. Since then I've not understood why Mercola continues to promote a mercury containing technology while he questions other routes of mercury exposure, especially now that he is into sustainable agriculture partly for its minimal impact on the environment and often discusses how important it is for supplements not to have mercury/heavy metals in them. Maybe his bulbs are those containing a minimum amount of mercury?
Adriana - when the mercury vapor leaches out w/in the first 4 days, is that w/in the first 4 days of manufacture, or the first 4 days after which the bulb is turned on? Considering that heat makes mercury contamination worse, at what temp was the research done? Is the 30% conservative?
Posted by: Jenny | January 07, 2014 at 11:14 AM
Oh, baby, it's cold outside. But you always warm my heart
with your good, cheery pieces(NOT). You are the monster black cat's MEOW and the Einstein of progressive thought. Time to learn Swedish. Hugs, Maurine
Posted by: Maurine Meleck | January 07, 2014 at 10:59 AM
Time to leave for another planet, I think.
Posted by: John Stone | January 07, 2014 at 08:52 AM