Friday, February 4, 2011

Energy efficient curly fluorescent light bulbs can be hazardous to your health!

Curly fluorescent light bulbs are marketed as energy-saving products that reduce pollution. However, each bulb contains approximately 5 milligrams of mercury, sufficient for contaminating approximately 6,000 gallons of drinking water. This poses significant problems if these bulbs are not cleaned up or disposed of properly:
  • Health: Mercury is released when a curly fluorescent light bulb breaks. Low level mercury exposure from these bulbs can cause tremors, mood shifts, sleeplessness, muscle fatigue, and headaches. High level or extended length exposure can lead to learning disabilities, altered personality, deafness, loss of memory, chromosomal damage, and nerve, brain, and kidney damage. There are also risks to the nervous systems of young children and unborn babies.
  • Environment: According to the EPA, over a billion curly light bulbs are discarded in the trash each year. At some point, it stands to reason that these bulbs will be broken. The mercury will then eventually find its way into the air, water, and soil, contaminating drinking water as well as the fish inhabiting nearby streams and rivers. Fruits and vegetables can also absorb mercury from the soil. Farm animals who are part of the food supply chain can also ingest contaminated food and water.
  • Animals: Farm animals and wildlife can experience reproductive failure and DNA alterations from mercury exposure, as well as damage to kidneys, stomach, and intestines.
Contact your local government or waste management company for more information about disposal programs for curly fluorescent bulbs. If there is not a local household hazardous waste collection program, commercial recycling company or retail take back program in your area, check with your local household hazardous waste (HHW) collection program to see if they accept them. Many home improvement centers such as Lowe's, Home Depot and Menards sponsor similar programs.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

FDA egg inspection report

After the infamous August 2010 500-million egg recall, and the ensuing implementation of a new federal rule aimed at preventing Salmonella in shell eggs, the FDA issued its first egg inspection report on February 1, 2011.

There are about 600 farms with over 50,000 laying hens subject to the new egg safety rule. 35 of those 600 shell egg farms were inspected in six states during this round.  Those included farms in Ohio, Maine, Pennsylvania, Washington, South Carolina, and Utah. Each farm inspected had either been associated with a salmonella outbreak, or had a poor history of compliance.

12 of the farms inspected were required to make changes as a result of the inspections. 11 of the 12 received a final inspection classification as "No Action Indicated." The remaining 12 farms are still awaiting disposition. Most of the violations were related to poor record keeping. Additional violations concerned inadequate rodent and stray animal control.

Of 1,796 environmental swabs collected at the farms, 4 percent (76 total) tested positive for Salmonella Entertidis. Each of the positive swabs was obtained from one specific unnamed egg producer.

"The remaining farms will receive a targeted inspection focused on compliance with the major provisions of the Rule," according to FDA. "An evidentiary threshold based on initial inspectional observations is being established for these sites, which will trigger comprehensive inspections that will include environmental sampling, if indicated. FDA and its state partners will be in communication throughout the course of this assignment to share the results of inspections."

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Marijuana soda for sale this month in Colorado

Canna Cola is marijuana soda for medical marijuana users containing between 35 and 65 grams of THC, the primary psychoactive ingredient in cannabis. The product line is being designed for those who do not enjoy smoking. Several flavors will be available:
  • Cola-flavored "Canna Cola"
  • Dr Pepper-like "Doc Weed"
  • Lemon-lime "Sour Diesel"
  • "Grape Ape"
  • "Orange Kush"
Medical marijuana has been legalized in 15 states, as well as Washington, D.C. These states would also be candidates for marijuana soda sales. However, each state's marijuana laws differ, and marijuana for any purpose is still illegal under federal law. Due to the federal laws, marijuana products must be manufactured and sold within states that allow medical marijuana use. Transportation across state lines is not allowed. For example, soda sold in California must also be manufactured in California.

The company anticipates launching in Colorado this month, priced between $10 to $15 for a 12-ounce bottle. They will tentatively be available in California medical marijuana dispensaries later this spring.