Day: August 13, 2012

OSHA issues two educational resources on protecting workers from mercury exposure in fluorescent bulbs

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued two new educational resources to help protect workers from mercury exposure while crushing and recycling fluorescent bulbs. Compact fluorescent bulbs are more efficient than incandescent bulbs, but the shift to energy-saving fluorescents, which contain mercury, calls for more attention to workers who handle, dispose of, and recycle used fluorescent bulbs.

The OSHA fact sheet explains how workers may be exposed, what kinds of engineering controls and personal protective equipment they need, and how to use these controls and equipment properly. In addition, a new OSHA Quick Card alerts employers and workers to the hazards of mercury and provides information on how to properly clean up accidentally broken fluorescent bulbs to minimize workers’ exposures to mercury.

Fluorescent bulbs can release mercury and may expose workers when they are broken accidentally or crushed as part of the routine disposal or recycling process. Depending on the duration and level of exposure, mercury can cause nervous system disorders such as tremors, kidney problems, and damage to unborn children.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit

Presentations from 2012 U.S. Biochar Conference

Presentations from the recent U.S. Biochar Conference are now available. The 2012 US Biochar Conference is designed to advance understanding of the economic, science and policy issues related to biochar as both an amendment for soils as well as an agent to sequester carbon.

A Green Business Rating System, Created By Middle School Students

Read the full story at FastCoExist.

A group of kids in Michigan became experts in what local businesses did to be more sustainable, and then launched a way to find out which businesses were doing the best job.

Adidas Introduces Water-Saving DryDye T-shirts

Read the full story at Environmental Leader.

Adidas has introduced a line of T-shirts made with DryDye, a fabric and manufacturing technology developed by the Yeh Group that doesn’t require water to dye clothing.

Too May Eco-Labels ‘Overwhelming,’ Companies Say

Read the full story at Environmental Leader.

Consumers and companies alike are becoming “confused” and “overwhelmed” by eco-labeling, according to a survey of more than 1,000 international companies including Hewlett-Packard, Nestlé, Canon, Sara Lee and E.On.

The joint study by the International Institute for Management Development and the Ecole Polytechnique de Lausanne concludes that eco-labeling has nearly reached the saturation point with companies and consumers increasingly concerned about the practice’s over-proliferation and credibility.

Metal recycling firms burgeon in California, but regulators can’t keep up

Read the full story in the Los Angeles Times.

The operations commonly handle hazardous materials and sometimes are near homes, but are subject to inconsistent oversight by a patchwork of agencies. Many are rarely if ever inspected.

Whither Science Publishing?

This cover article of the August 2012 issue of The Scientist takes an in-depth look at the state of science publishing, from the perspective of researchers, publishers, and information scientists. The article includes discussions on:

If you publish your research, this should be required reading.

Bell weather: A statistical analysis shows how things really are heating up

Read the full story in the Economist.

Are heatwaves more common than they used to be? That is the question addressed by James Hansen and his colleagues in a paper just published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Their conclusion is that they are—and the data they draw on do not even include the current scorcher that is drying up much of North America and threatening its harvest. The team’s method of presentation, however, has caused a stir among those who feel that scientific papers should be dispassionate in their delivery of the evidence. For the paper, interesting though the evidence it delivers is, is far from dispassionate.

Link to the full research article: James Hansen, Makiko Sato, and Reto Ruedy (2012). “Perception of climate change.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Published online before print August 6, 2012, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1205276109.

Abstract: “Climate dice,” describing the chance of unusually warm or cool seasons, have become more and more “loaded” in the past 30 y, coincident with rapid global warming. The distribution of seasonal mean temperature anomalies has shifted toward higher temperatures and the range of anomalies has increased. An important change is the emergence of a category of summertime extremely hot outliers, more than three standard deviations (3σ) warmer than the climatology of the 1951–1980 base period. This hot extreme, which covered much less than 1% of Earth’s surface during the base period, now typically covers about 10% of the land area. It follows that we can state, with a high degree of confidence, that extreme anomalies such as those in Texas and Oklahoma in 2011 and Moscow in 2010 were a consequence of global warming because their likelihood in the absence of global warming was exceedingly small. We discuss practical implications of this substantial, growing, climate change.

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