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Washington Bans Chemicals; Industry Freaks 373

Posted by kdawson
from the quit-polybrominating-our-kids dept.
Frosty Piss writes "The governor of Washington is scheduled to sign legislation today to ban flame retardants called PBDEs in furniture, televisions, and computers in the state. This is despite the more than $220,000 the chemical industry has spent since 2005 to defeat the legislation. At a time when the federal government is largely ineffectual in regulating long-used but potentially dangerous industrial chemicals, the Washington ban could be the beginning of the end for PBDEs across the nation. 'The industry that makes deca and PBDEs is freaking out because they lost so severely in Washington state and other states will follow,' said a spokeswoman for the Washington Toxics Coalition. 'It really is a message from Washington state and policymakers that we won't accept chemicals that build up in our bodies and our children.'"
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Washington Bans Chemicals; Industry Freaks

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @02:25PM (#18770721)
    burn to death, we're fine with that...
    • by noidentity (188756) on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @02:29PM (#18770809)
      Yeah, as long as it's not too many. Otherwise we'd have to ban anything that's not metal/glass/ceramic.... oh, wait, those could cut someone, so we better ban them too. The question is not whether it's dangerous, it's how to balance the inherent tradeoffs between the various dangers.
    • by ghostlibrary (450718) on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @02:32PM (#18770877) Homepage Journal
      I like that the /. ad on this page was "It only takes a spark" (smokey the bear).

      But yeah, if one child catches fire but it saves ten thousand from cancer, that's unfortunately a better decision over all. Note it's not like children are spontaneously combusting without PBDEs, it's just that the companies will happily use the cheapest fire-proofing despite the consequences.

      More to the point, a parent can stop a child from playing with a fire a lot easier than they can stop a corporation from leaking toxins into the water supply. This is, oddly enough, how legislation is supposed to work.

      • by beckerist (985855) on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @02:36PM (#18770971) Homepage
        What's most enigmatic is the line: This is despite the more than $220,000 the chemical industry has spent since 2005 to defeat the legislation.

        My interpretation: Congressmen need more than 6 figures to be bought off.
        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Volante3192 (953645)
          Well, that's 6 figures divvied up between all the congressmen they went after.

          6 figures to *each* congressman might work.
        • by ePhil_One (634771)
          My interpretation: Congressmen need more than 6 figures to be bought off.

          Wrong government body/Wrong Washington. This was a State action (not Washington DC), so State Legislators were the one's who needed to be bought off. If you insist on looking that cynically at it, remember its a body of people, 10-20 perhaps, so even if you focus on only 51% of them, its not THAT much.

          In real life, most of the money went to adds and lobbyists, etc., maybe a few got campaign contributions but likely they already wer

          • by Applekid (993327) on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @03:16PM (#18771639)
            While not a zero-sum game, I think the influence of lobbyists isn't as important as the politcal implications of certain decisions. I'd argue one gets into state legislature so that they could climb the ladder into federal legislature or further.

            Nobody wants to be the politician whose color picture of their smiling face fades to grayscale and is then overlayed on an image of sick children in hospital beds, then with the image of the hospital crossfading to a picture of a waste-water dumping pipe discharging into a creek all the while ominous music plays in the background.

            You could argue one doesn't want to be the politician with his black and white picture on top of pictures of people on fire, but burn victims don't get telethons and specials on 20/20.
        • by pclminion (145572) on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @04:36PM (#18772847)

          My interpretation: Congressmen need more than 6 figures to be bought off.

          My interpretation: The companies in question didn't think the issue was important enough to be worth more than a few hundred grand.
      • by polar red (215081) on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @02:38PM (#18771001)
        yup, It's a story like the one about Asbestos and DDT. In the EU, there is even legistlation that goes (a lot) further, called REACH. People should be reminded that any chemical, that is not bio-degradeable, ends up on our plate and accumulates in the whole eco-system.
    • by cyfer2000 (548592) on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @02:38PM (#18770999) Journal
      We still have some other ammunition for the flame retardant applications. Aluminum hydroxide [chemicalland21.com], Magnesium hydroxide [magspecialties.com], Phosphorus based stuff [greatlakes.com], intumescent stuff [wikipedia.org], nanoclay stuff, melamine crystals [specialchem4polymers.com]... It maybe a painful for industrial players, they have to figure out a way, but it's going to be OK for consumers.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @02:28PM (#18770763)
    This might be the first recorded Think-Of-The-Children infinite loop:

    "If you get rid of the flame retardant, people will die in fires. Think of the children!"
    "No, YOU think of the children, who are filling up with toxic chemicals!"
    "YOU think of the children, who are currently on fire!"
    (and so forth)

    Meanwhile, the children grow up and move to Vancouver.
    • by Red Flayer (890720) on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @02:41PM (#18771057) Journal

      "YOU think of the children, who are currently on fire!"
      (and so forth)

      Meanwhile, the children grow up and move to Vancouver.

      One would think that being on fire might retard the maturation process in children, never mind Canadian Immigration being ok with immigrants ablaze.
      • by sammy baby (14909) on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @02:46PM (#18771161) Journal
        Canada, aka Canuckia, is getting a lot stricter with its immigration policies. These days I'm pretty sure that showing up at a checkpoint while on fire will get you detained for a fairly lengthy interview with Canuckian authorities.
        • by onkelonkel (560274) on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @03:06PM (#18771475)
          As a Canadian I can assure you that our ever-vigilant Customs and Immigration officers would ask several sternly worded questions before they admitted such a person.
          • by rahvin112 (446269) on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @03:28PM (#18771807)
            And after providing proof that they were in fact being unfairly discriminated against because they were ablaze, the Canadian court would overrule the intervention of Customs and Immigration. Not only that but the PM would soundly condemn the practice of discrimination based on current fire affinity but they would pass a rule allowing admittance based on asylum for those who are currently ablaze. After which the major airports would be flooded with arriving foreigners who would promptly purchase a bottle of flammable substance and promptly douse themselves in it and upon being called for their interview with customs would promptly alight themselves.
          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by tbo (35008)
            As a Canadian I can assure you that our ever-vigilant Customs and Immigration officers would ask several sternly worded questions before they admitted such a person.

            How dare they discriminate against the Incendiary-American community!
        • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @05:04PM (#18773291)
          You can't just show up at the border waving a firearm.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        One would think that being on fire might retard the maturation process in children, never mind Canadian Immigration being ok with immigrants ablaze.
        We've never had a problem with flamers. Gay marriage has been legal here for years.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by dryeo (100693)

      Meanwhile, the children grow up and move to Vancouver.
      Well it does rain enough in Vancouver that the children are unlikely to burn
  • ... does this mean that work on Vista will have to be moved out of state?
  • by Expertus (1001346) on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @02:28PM (#18770779)

    'The industry that makes deca and PBDEs is freaking out because they lost so severely in Washington state and other states will follow,' said a spokeswoman for the Washington Toxics Coalition.
    They might have stood a better chance with a different name
  • by fahrbot-bot (874524) on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @02:29PM (#18770793)
    This is despite the more than $220,000 the chemical industry has spent since 2005 to defeat the legislation.

    Wow a whole $200k over two years; they must really be serious!

  • by dfenstrate (202098) <dfenstrate@gm a i l .com> on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @02:29PM (#18770805)
    ...When you can't buy anything flame resistant or UL listed. Or anything, for that matter. Is Washington a big enough state to overcome the costs associated with a differentiated product line? Will companies even make things that can't cost-effectively comply with other regulations and industry liability practices that require flame resistance?

    I'm not sure but I guess we'll find out.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by thebdj (768618)
      I believe that companies are already doing this with RoHS compliant materials. Which if I recall, is a requirement for the EU. So I don't think it would be a big issue, but most items sold in the US are hardly RoHS compliant.
    • by cyfer2000 (548592) on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @02:47PM (#18771167) Journal
      China, Europe and Japan have banned PBDE, plus California, I think Washington is going to be OK.
      • by w3woody (44457) on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @03:39PM (#18772007) Homepage
        Actually, California has only banned penta-PBDEs and octa-PBDEs, but has not banned deca-PBDEs--and the ban doesn't go into effect until next year. Europe, which started the whole thing, has only banned penta-PBDEs and octa-PBDEs but not deca-PBDEs--California's legislation is modeled after Europe's. And the reason why deca-PBDEs are not banned is because the Swedish study which showed problems with PBDEs only showed problems with penta- and octa- but not with deca-PBDEs.

        Washington is banning all PBDEs, including deca-PBDEs, which were not shown by the Swedish investigation as being harmful. As such, the Washington legislation goes beyond California's or Europe's.
    • by SuperBanana (662181) on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @02:54PM (#18771291)

      Is Washington a big enough state to overcome the costs associated with a differentiated product line?

      If you read the article- there are alternatives to the banned chemicals. In fact, the same companies that make the banned chemicals make the alternatives.

      The wonderful thing about capitalism is that it is remarkably adaptive. Even if Washington State isn't very large, they still represent a lot of buying power. I once read that my local town's residents have the buying power in the hundreds of millions of dollars...

      Let's also not forget that "making things easy for corporations" (which pay single-digit percentages of taxes, when in the 50's they paid about half) should be the absolute least of our priorities, especially when it comes to matters of public health.

      Watch the Bill Moyer special sometime about pollution- give a sample of your blood to someone with an analytical lab, and they'll be able to find hundreds, if not thousands, of industrial chemicals. They've become completely pervasive.

      • by Shadowlore (10860) on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @04:49PM (#18773041) Journal
        give a sample of your blood to someone with an analytical lab, and they'll be able to find hundreds, if not thousands, of industrial chemicals.

        Actually I have, and the result was not what you claim. They were specifically looking for chemicals so I'm pretty confident it wasn't just an oversight. Have you tried it yourself or is this just more "I read it on the Internet?".

        While a lot of what are termed "natural" additives in foods are anything but natural, a lot of industrial chemicals do occur naturally on their own. Citric acid, for example, is used quite heavily in many industries, and is an "industrial chemical".

        yes, I suggest readers do look up the details. your "hundreds perhaps thousands" is sheer unadulterated fear mongering. The studies show averages in the few dozen range, and none over 60.

        For example:

        BRUSSELS, Belgium, October 20, 2004 (ENS) - The blood of ministers from 13 European Union countries is contaminated with dozens of industrial chemicals, including some that were banned decades ago. The officials have an average of 37 industrial chemicals in their blood, according to tests conducted in June and released Tuesday by the international conservation organization WWF.

        The chemicals found in the European officials include those used in fire resistant sofas, non-stick pans, grease proof pizza boxes, flexible polyvinyl chloride, fragrances and pesticides.

        -- http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/oct2004/2004-10-20 -10.asp [ens-newswire.com]

        And:

        The results further show that the highest number of chemicals in one person was 54, while the median number of chemicals detected was 41. At least 13 of the same chemicals were found in every single person tested, including chemicals banned in Europe over 20 years ago as well as chemicals in widespread use today such as phthalates and perfluorinated compounds.

        -- http://www.panda.org/about_wwf/what_we_do/policy/t oxics/news/index.cfm?uNewsID=12622 [panda.org]

        Moyers' own "results" were the result of blood and urine tests. A combined total of 84 out of 150 they were looking for. And the details of what they are were not released, other than a few "eye popper" ones such as DDT. See http://www.pbs.org/tradesecrets/problem/bodyburden .html [pbs.org] for details. Urine tests reveal chemicals leaving the body and do not necessarily represent a sustained level of toxicity. There are substances the body passes through without using ... like corn kernels. ;) Thus, the presence of a substance in a urine sample does not mean the substance had any effect on the body.

        Many of the "industrial chemicals" listed include things like the paint or wood finish you buy at your local hardware store, or the weed killer you buy from the store. News articles tend to downplay those. Note the distinct lack of details (in teh news articles) beyond the headline grabbers such as DDT. Why is that? DDT gets attention due to the great DDT scare/hoax. But as even the above referenced studies state regarding DDT:

        Thus far, there is no conclusive evidence that exposure to DDT and its breakdown products at the levels found in the environment, affects reproduction and development in humans. The possible association between exposure to DDT and various types of cancers in humans has been extensively studied, particularly breast cancer, but no link has yet been established.

        This is like other chemicals/substances where you only read/hear about them saying things like "In high concentrations/doses...". Why? because small doses/exposure does not show the dramatic effects. News flash: Dihydrogen oxide in high doses/concentrations

    • by squiggleslash (241428) * on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @03:51PM (#18772183) Homepage Journal

      Here's how it works.

      You're the CEO Megacorp 1. You produce SuperDooperFunTechs, a brand of computer, containing CAnCeR2 toxic waste as a flame retardant.

      A state, say, one that contains the world's largest computer software company, bans CAnCeR2.

      You, being a CEO, naturally hear about this on Slashdot. Naturally, your first reaction is to have a hissy fit. You then read the suggestions by dslashbot (202099) advising you to "stick it to the man" and simply refuse to sell your wares in said state.

      "Har har" says you. "That'll learn 'em".

      At which point the CEO of Megacorp 2, who produces SuperDooperFunTech's main rival, PowerMegaSeriousTech, says "Wow, Megacorp 1 is withdrawing from that state? Why? Because there's a ban on CAnCeR2? Hmmm, do we have CAnCeR2 in our PowerMegaSeriousTech?"

      A flunky then says "Why, yes your seriousness, but wait. There's a whole host of flame retardants that are not banned, we just use CAnCeR2 because it's cheap. Remember that memo? Save every penny? If we switched to GRe3N, the lowest cost alternative, we'd have to add $2 to the price of our PowerMegaSeriousTechs. Call it $3 if you take into account that we would probably only want to do that for the state in question."

      "Ha ha!" says CEO of Megacorp 2. "Profits!".

      And so the story has a happy ending. Megacorp 2 sells safe, toxic waste free, PowerMegaSeriousTechs to our environmentally conscious state. The state's happy citizens have their PowerMegaSeriousTechs, they're $3 more expensive than they are in the neighbouring states, but that's ok. The CEO of Megacorp 1 is fired for being so shortsighted as to seriously believe that the choice is always between affordable fire retardants and being sued for numerous fires. Meanwhile, as more and more states ban CAnCeR2, the costs of alternatives plummet as chemical companies the world over realize there's money to be made in non-toxic flame retardants, and CAnCeR2 is a dead-end.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by blakestah (91866)
      ..When you can't buy anything flame resistant or UL listed. Or anything, for that matter. Is Washington a big enough state to overcome the costs associated with a differentiated product line? Will companies even make things that can't cost-effectively comply with other regulations and industry liability practices that require flame resistance?


      There are other flame retardants that do not accumulate in biological tissue.

      The issue here is that many human mothers have accumulated adequate levels of PBDEs in the
  • What the ... ? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @02:30PM (#18770813)

    That's not the point, Kyte said. Deca is safe and shouldn't become the "poster child" for stricter regulations just because a chemical is detected in people or the environment.

    Isn't that a HUGE issue? The chemical is CONCENTRATING itself in the food chain.

    Either show that it decomposes into safe, naturally occurring chemicals or realize that it is time to look at banning it BEFORE it hits levels that are hazardous.
    • naturally [wikipedia.org]:

      Surprisingly, an experiment done the at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts in 2005 showed that the isotopic signature of PBDEs found in whale blubber contained carbon-14, the naturally occurring radioactive isotope of carbon. If the PBDEs in the whale had come from artificial (human-made) sources, they would have only contained carbon-12 and no carbon-14 due to the fact that virtually all PBDEs which are produced artificially use petroleum as the source of carbon, all carbon-14

      • Whether it occurs naturally or not is not the issue.

        The issue is whether it is concentrating itself in the food chain (and humans).

        Since it seems that it is, it should be limited until it can be determined whether there is any damage associated with it or not.
        • it's also concentrating naturally

          yes, artificial sources can accelerate that concentrating above natural thresholds across which bad things start happening. so ban the chemicals, what do i care? i'm not contradicting the parent or the washington law. good law, i say

          my point is simply that the issue is not so simpleminded: "industrial chemicals baaaaad"

          no, plenty of natural chemicals rot your body, and plenty of artificial ones improve your health. i'm just sick of the simpleminded rhetoric that industrial chemical makers are out to give all of us cancer just to make a few bucks. that's hollywood, not reality. and reality is that, on the balance, industrial chemicals have improved our lives and our health. yes, that really is the truth

          sorry if i'm not so simpleminded and propagandized as other people
      • So it occurs naturally, but in much lower concentrations than those currently measured in us and a lot of the food we eat. What's your point? I ask because my first impression was that you were attempting to contradict the parent, but the quoted material seems to support his position.
  • by jamesl (106902) on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @02:32PM (#18770893)
    "Long-used but potentially dangerous industrial chemicals" is an inflamatory and misleading phrase that can refer to things like gasoline, isopropyl alcohol and super glue.
  • The Bush administration has been stacking government agencies with people who have no interest in exercising their agencies power. The whole purpose of those appointments appears to be one of reduced regulation of corporate entities. But what will happen when State laws are getting in the way of the Bush administration's de-regulation plans? Will Bush and party push for federal legislation limiting state's rights to enforce stricter than federal laws? Given his actions over the last 6+ years, I wouldn't be
    • by mi (197448) on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @02:44PM (#18771117) Homepage

      I would not be surprised either — promises to "cut the red tape" and reduce the regulatory burden is part of the reason I vote Republican...

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Qzukk (229616)
      Will Bush and party push for federal legislation limiting state's rights to enforce stricter than federal laws?

      Bush wouldn't be the first. For whatever reason, the Clean Air Act [cleancarscampaign.org] states that nobody can set stricter standards for vehicle emissions than the federal government unless California does, and then those states have to use standards identical to California for a given model year (or back down to the federal requirements).
    • State-level "medical marijuana" laws have been invalidated because the Supreme Court said the Feds have the right to regulate inter-state commerce.

      Yeah, it makes no sense. But they ruled on it.

      http://www.cnn.com/2005/LAW/06/06/scotus.medical.m arijuana/ [cnn.com]

    • Industry has been very successful at turning back regulation at the federal level with Bush in power, as you say. Hooray for industry. Soon, though, they're going to be asking themselves whether they'd be better off with reasonable federal regulation, as opposed to an emerging patchwork of tougher regulations from states that are increasingly forced to assume responsibilities that the federal government is abrogating. You may be hearing the sound of the pendulum swinging...
  • Game over, man (Score:3, Insightful)

    by $RANDOMLUSER (804576) on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @02:35PM (#18770949)

    "It really is a message from Washington state and policymakers that we won't accept chemicals that build up in our bodies and our children."

    "So we're going to save a lot of money and a lot of kids."

    Someone used the rootkit.
  • This will also create more jobs in Washington state as consumers discover it is not possible to ship a chair made out of baked clay for a reasonable price. This will inspire a great number of new startup companies producing furniture in Washington state that compiles with both regulations banning chemicals whlie preserving the fireproof nature of chairs, couches and bedding.

    Look for that distinctive reddish color of new Washington state approved furniture.

    Movers will not be pleased with this, but the home
    • by Deagol (323173)
      They could contract with the makers of the $179 "Adobe" car.

      (sheesh, I'm getting old. That SNL episode was made about 20 years ago...)

    • Of course, then someone will discover that ceramics have a higher radiation emissions than furniture made of wood and plastics. This will lead to legistlation to make sure manufacturers use materials that have any minute trace, naturally-occurring, radioactive matter removed.

  • by smellsofbikes (890263) on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @02:39PM (#18771015) Journal
    I'm big on states' rights over federal ones, and local laws over state ones, on the assumption that the closer to home, the better the legislators will deal with what's actually going on. (Also lobbies find it much harder to affect vast numbers of low-level officials, even though you can buy them off with (1) hooker and (1) thimbleful of blow, rather than having to give them a whole sorority for a weekend -- coz there are just so many low-level officials compared to senators.)

    But I have to wonder, at the same time, at what point legislation stops being about good-for-the-people, or even look-I'm-doing-something-vote-for me, and starts being about legislating morals, ethics, and such. One part of me wishes more states would make like California and start making effective carbon-emission-reduction laws, or Washington, making effective anti-dangerous-chemical laws, but how long before Tennessee bans birth control pills as suspect carcinogens, or any of a variety of other handwaving subterfuges that are intended not to make people safer but to force them towards different behavior? Maybe states' rights isn't such a hot idea after all.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by XanC (644172)

      Aside from the fact that your example is purely speculative, you are also free to move to a state which lines up with your personal preferences.

      If we truly had states' rights, the several states would each adopt a particular point on the economic and moral continuua, and people can choose where they like to live.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by w3woody (44457)
      Legislation is great when you agree with it--it is a reasonable reaction to a growing public concern that needs to be addressed in a thoughtful way.

      On the other hand, Legislation sucks when you disagree with it--it is an overreaching abuse of the power of the government to impose the will of a neanderthal few upon otherwise freedom loving people.

      Don't matter what the legislation is, nor how it is passed or if it is the Federal government telling the States to knock it off, or if it is the States banning tog
  • This should certainly make those battery fires more interesting.

    Oh, wait, that's not a bright side. Except literally.
  • Here we go... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bullfish (858648) on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @02:52PM (#18771249)
    Lemme see here:

    1. Have mature product with static revenues
    2. Have legislature ban mature product
    3. Feebly fight against ban so you can tell public you tried
    4. Introduce new, more expensive product
    5. Profit!!

    • Alternate plan (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Bearpaw (13080)
      1. Discover mature product contains harmful chemical.
      2. Ignore discovery until enough people hear about it that politicians decide to "lead".
      3. Spend hundreds of thousands of dollars lobbying against change.
      4. When finally forced to change, find some way to write off cost of change (and lobbying) so as to not pay taxes this year either.
      5. Profit!
      6. Brag to stockholders.
      7. Get stock bonuses.
      8. Dump stock and leave company before it augers into ground.
      9. Profit!
      10. Use small percentage of huge personal wealth
  • This could all be settled satisfactorily for everyone involved if someone puts in a sweet phone call to the Microsoft folks down in Florida. The mafium leave nothing but a few concrete boots.
  • by FredThompson (183335) <fredthompson&mindspring,com> on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @02:57PM (#18771343)
    ...and they also want to require compact fluorescent bulbs which...contain mercury, another cumulative poison which doesn't break down.

    Yes, folks, the same government nannies will have your neighbors throwing mercury into the trash. Never mind that it will get into the ground and your water supplies, costs more, is inferior light and sends money to the Chinese communists.

    Never mind that the same thinking banned DDT which meant millions of Africans have died from malaria or that liberated prisoners from the Nazi death camps were bathed in DDT to kill the bugs living on them or that "Silent Spring" has been shown to be a work of fiction.

    Never mind that banning asbestos created more danger because removing asbestos is more dangerous than using it properly, automobile brakes are nowhere near as capable, costs increased and, oh, yeah, the WTC would have stood longer because it was designed to survive airplane hits provided the guts were protected by asbestos so it would have stood a few more hours.

    Nope, those who know what's best for us must rise and save us from ourselves.
    • mercury in CF bulbs (Score:5, Informative)

      by raygundan (16760) on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @03:12PM (#18771579) Homepage
      Throwing a CF bulb in the garbage at the end of its life produces releases about half as much mercury as a coal plant powering an equivalent regular bulb. Note that this figure includes the smaller amount of mercury produced powering the CF bulb.

      Given that coal is roughly 50% of all the power generation in the US, and that lighting is less than 50% of all power usage-- switching all standard bulbs to CF will result in a net reduction in environmental mercury *in addition* to reducing numerous other pollutants produced by generation.

      And as a final note: which do you think is easier to collect and recycle? Mercury in bulbs, or mercury nicely mixed into our atmosphere?

      • by weston (16146) <westonsd@@@canncentral...org> on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @04:56PM (#18773145) Homepage
        And as a final note: which do you think is easier to collect and recycle? Mercury in bulbs, or mercury nicely mixed into our atmosphere?

        Well, coal plants present a smaller number of points of emission, at any rate, so rather than having to encourage/mandate behavior of 300 million, you only have to control the behavior of a few thousand coal plants.

        (Though the challenge of reckoning with the political influence of coal plant owners might be an issue.)
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by greg_barton (5551) *
      This refutes your WTC asbestos claims. from the article: "Asbestos would have been not better in resisting this level of heat. Indeed, sprayed-on asbestos might well have been blasted away more readily than other material due to its lightweight, loose-fiber constituency."

      And, am I reading you correctly about brakes? You like having asbestos dust in the air produced from brake pads?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by drinkypoo (153816)

      automobile brakes are nowhere near as capable

      I call shenanigans.

      Full-metallic pads resist heat better than asbestos. And Kevlar-Carbon pads resist heat almost as well, and stop you FAR better.

      Ceramic pads don't stop you as well, but they last approximately forever and they don't have a heat fade problem either.

      Also, the problem with DDT is that when it is overused, it DOES accumulate. Dangerously. And you can't stop people from overusing it. We need a superior replacement.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Damn you dumb, troll...

      Yes, folks, the same government nannies will have your neighbors throwing mercury into the trash. Never mind that it will get into the ground and your water supplies, costs more, is inferior light and sends money to the Chinese communists.

      There's coal in mercury, burning coal puts mercury in the air. Mercury comes down in rain fall, gets converted to highly toxic methyl mercury and is adsorbed by fish. There's so much mercury in fish that you can't eat them any more. [nrdc.org] Solution:

  • by wramsdel (463149) on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @02:59PM (#18771369)
    So does that mean that Steve Ballmer has to move?
  • by Kohath (38547) on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @03:23PM (#18771735)
    Long ago, when bad things happened for reasons no one understood, the people of that time blamed "evil spirits" or "the devil" or witches or sorcerers. Folks were afraid. You can still see this occur in primitive societies. Someone will get sick or the weather will be bad or the cows will die and it'll be blamed on evil sorcerers. Sometimes, someone is accused and killed for doing their evil magic -- often a personal enemy or rival or someone envied.

    Some modern folks don't believe in magic, but bad things still happen that they don't understand. People still get sick unpredictably. Now it gets blamed on "chemicals". People are afraid. Sometimes someone will be accused and harmed financially (but not killed) for using these "chemicals" -- often a political enemy or rival or someone envied.

    Rather than asking for their god (or God) to protect them from evil, they ask their government. Rather than asking for a blessing before they eat their meals, they buy government-blessed "organic" foods. Like their ancestors, they fear becoming "polluted" by something bad.

    .

    Fear, ignorance, and a lack of understanding shouldn't be the basis for decisions. The government makes a poor god and is unworthy or your faith.

    Try being responsible for yourself. Instead of reacting, think. Instead of fearing, learn. Instead or harming or forcing (or killing), choose.
  • by nFriedly (628261) <nathan.friedly+s ... m ['ail' in gap]> on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @04:16PM (#18772535) Homepage Journal
    In case you were wondering what a PBDE was, heres the intro from the wikipedia article

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PBDE [wikipedia.org]

    PBDE From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    PBDE, or polybrominated diphenyl ether, is a flame-retardant sub-family of the brominated flame-retardant group. They have been used in a wide array of household products, including fabrics, furniture, and electronics. There are three main types, referred to as penta, octa and deca for the number of bromine atoms in the molecule. After studies in Sweden found substances related to PentaBDE accumulating in breast milk and other tissues, Sweden reduced the use of this substance. A follow-up study has in the meantime indicated declining levels.[1]

    The European Union has carried out a comprehensive risk assessment under the Existing Substances Regulation 793/93/EEC of Penta-, Octa- and DecaBDE. As a consequence the EU has banned the use of Penta-and OctaBDE since 2004. Deca-BDE use has been exempted under the European Union's RoHS Directive since 15 October 2005 following the positive outcome of a EU scientific assessment.

    Surprisingly, an experiment done the at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts in 2005 showed that the isotopic signature of PBDEs found in whale blubber contained carbon-14, the naturally occurring radioactive isotope of carbon. If the PBDEs in the whale had come from artificial (human-made) sources, they would have only contained carbon-12 and no carbon-14 due to the fact that virtually all PBDEs which are produced artificially use petroleum as the source of carbon, all carbon-14 would have long since completely decayed from that source.[2] The experiment thus shows that there must be some as yet unidentified natural source of PBDEs. However this source is extremely unlikely to account for the concentrations of PBDEs measured in human tissues, wildlife, household dust and common foods.
  • by Alzheimers (467217) on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @05:18PM (#18773501)
    Why not just ban matches?
  • by cpghost (719344) on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @05:49PM (#18774093) Homepage
    EU has invented similar laws under the acronym RoHS. Those too are driving manufacturers of embedded devices nuts: without Pb., solder points corrode much faster - which is bad for equipment designed to be put in remote areas with extreme weather conditions... of course: far away from population centers where people could get hurt. RoHS compliant equipment can't last as long as current gear; and guess who's paying the price of replacing that stuff much faster than needed? And this replacement comes at a cost for the environment too...
  • lawsuit (Score:3, Insightful)

    by pavera (320634) on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @06:37PM (#18774895) Homepage Journal
    So, once these are all banned can the residents of Washington sue their state government when what would have been a mild exploding capacitor turns into a house fire?

    Seriously people. The environmentalists are constantly shooting themselves in the foot. They banned a similar substance used in transformers. Then the largest (at that time) solar generating plant in the US had a transformer failure and the entire plant burned down. Of course the owners of the solar plant closed up shop and didn't rebuild. Why put billions into something to protect the environment when the environmentalists make it impossible to protect that investment by using the latest technologies.

The first version always gets thrown away.

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