CFL Bulbs Dangers

Concern have been raised on CFL bulbs dangers - what about the safety and the effects to our health. Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFL) are the main type of energy saving light bulbs on the market.

In the following article I try to explain the CFL light bulb dangers, as they are mercury, UV radiation, electromagnetic field, other toxic fumes, flickering and hormone production.

Fluorescent light bulb danger No. 1: Mercury

CFL bulbs dangers due to mercury which is extremely harmful to our brain, nervous system, liver, kidneys, it can damage our cardiovascular- immune- and reproductive system, and lead to cancer, Alzheimer.... but actually the list is longer

CFL bulbs dangers are played down - we are always told that the amount of mercury in CFL bulbs is so little that it will not harm our body. Truth is the safe intake of mercury for humans is only a few mcg, the amount of mercury in energy saving lamps is 3,000 to 5,000 mcg!!

Normally that only bothers you if a lamp breaks, which can happen very easily. The level of released mercury will exceed the existing safety limits by far and even after you cleaned up it will stay very high because mercury get absorbed into all sorts of textiles (sofa, carpet, curtains..)

The lifetime of electronic CFLs (eCFLs) is very limited; on average nine months to 12 month, not as long as we thought it would last. If you put CFL bulbs into normal garbage (either broken cfl bulb or an intact one) they mostly end up at a land fill. They will break sooner or later and mercury will evaporate into air and washed into the ground. Imagine only one lamp can contaminate up to 6,000 gallons (23.000 liters) of water! In the future mercury will poison our homes, our streets. Babies, small children and pets will suffer first, because of their size, the live near the ground where the amount of mercury is even higher.

Energy efficient light bulbs danger No. 2: UV radiation

I bet you don´t know that energy saving lamps emit UVB and UVC radiation. UV radiation is harmful for skin and eyes and can cause skin cancer and cataract. There were several studies on the increased risk for melanoma due to fluorescent lights. But even in less severe cases skin reactions like redness and burning sensations on the face are noted.
(Source: "An estimation of squamous cell carcinoma risk from ultraviolet radiation emitted by fluorescent lamps" by CD Lytle, WH Cyr, JZ Beer, SA Miller, RH James, RJ Landry)

Cfl bulbs dangers No. 3: electromagnetic radiation

Incandescent lamps emit very little electromagnetic radiation, while dangers of cfl bulbs are a radiation in the range of 25 to 100 kHz. This generates a powerful electromagnetic field close to the source and up to 1 meter distance. At a distance of 20 cm a radiation level of 180 V was measured. Therefore you should not use CFL´s as desk, reading or bedside lamps. The symptoms of “Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity” or EM are disrupted sleep, fatigue, headaches, nausea, dizziness, heart palpitations, memory problems, and skin rashes.

Fluorescent bulbs danger No. 4: toxic fumes

Latest research on dangers of cfl light bulbs shows other carcinogenic chemicals are emitted when CFL´s are switched on. German research shows that several chemicals are released as a form of steam. These harmful substances include phenol (a poison used during World War II) and the human toxins naphthalene and styrene. Tests showed that the materials used for the production of the lamps are probably responsible for their potentially harmful side effects. Therefore you should use these lamps very economically in ventilated areas and definitely not in the proximity of the head.

Compact fluorescent light bulbs danger No. 5: flickering

Low quality CFL´s produce flickering lights which can lead to headaches and migraines, diminished concentration, eye strain and worsens Meniere disease and epilepsy.

Energy saving bulbs danger No. 6: hormone production

Unless normal light bulbs, energy saving bulbs emit a large proportion of blue light, which lead to a variety of disease and conditions. But influences and diminishes the production of our natural sleeping hormone melatonin.

My conclusion on Cfl bulbs dangers:
- Energy saving light bulbs contain mercury and other toxins that make you sick.
- Energy saving bulbs are more expensive than incandescent bulbs and the lifespan is shorter than we thought.
- Energy saving light bulbs generate an inferior quality of light.
- The safe disposal of energy saving light bulbs can not be guaranteed and there is a risk of poisoning our environment and groundwater.

With the variety of Cfl bulbs dangers why are we forced to use them anyway?

Venus Transit 2012 A Rare Event

Venus, the second closest planet to the sun, will be directly between the sun and the earth. In the Venus transit 2012 the planet will be seen as a black dot moving across the face of the sun.

Like a total solar eclipse a transit is an astronomical event in which two astronomical bodies come in one straight line. Everybody who has experienced a solar eclipse in the past, noticed that the apparent size of the moon was much larger than that of the sun. That’s why the sun was completely blocked by the moon. But in case of the Venus transit 2012, the apparent size of the Venus coming between the observer and the sun in the background is much smaller. In this case about 30 times smaller than that of the sun we will see the disk of Venus being projected on the disk of the sun.

As the transit of Venus comes in a pair, separated by 8 years, the last transit of Venus was seen on 8th June 2004. This pair repeats at intervals of 105 and 121 years. So the next Venus transits are more than 100 years away and this will be our last chance to witness them. The last Venus transit occurred more than a century ago, in 1882.

Venus transit 2012 times and schedule.

Depending on your location you may see the transit of Venus either as her last steps as the Evening Star, or first steps as the Morning Star. Most of Northern Americans can see the beginning of the transit in the afternoon and evening on June 5, whereas much of Eurasians see the ending of the transit in the morning on June 6. Unfortunately it will be not visible in most parts of South America and eastern parts of Africa. Please have a look at the Venus transit 2012 map below:

Some Venus transit 2012 times:
June 5:
New York 6:03pm
Houston, Texas 5:05pm
Los Angeles, California 3:06pm
Honolulu, Hawaii 12:09noon
June 6:
London, UK 5:37am
Cairo, Egypt 6:37am
Bombay, India 10:05am

According to Fred Espenak, an eclipse expert at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md. "People using a filter approved for safe solar viewing can expect to see a small black dot, about 1/30 the size of the solar disk, slowly moving across the Sun." It is not safe when viewing the Venus transit to look directly at the sun and you can NOT use sun glasses either. You need proper eye protection, get solar eclipse glasses.
Venus transit 2012 - astrology implication. In Indian astrology for example, decreasing Venus in Taurus is considered auspicious which gives excellent materialistic results, comfort and ease to life. A Sun-Venus conjunction can also be a powerful metaphor for the marriage of “Love & Light”, the New Age mantra.

Venus transit 2012 - Mayan calendar end of the world.
In many native cultures the 2012 Venus transit is considered a very special occasion and many Native Americans from North and South America call 2012 the Year Zero. In the Dresden Codex, one of the early Mayan books, the beginning of the great cycle in August 3114 BC is referred to as the birth of Venus. December 21 2012 marks the end of this great cycle. The Mayans even regarded the cycles of rising and setting of Venus near the Sun as a key timing trigger in the world. In Mayan Cosmology Venus, our sister planet, is also associated with Quetzalcoatl, the creator of Maya civilization.  Does it mean a renewed world and a new consciousness will be born on the occasion of the Venus transit?

Venus transit 2012 - earthquake dangers?
There is no scientific evidence for a relationship between transits and earthquakes. But after the Venus transit from 12.6.1882 the Indonesian volcano Krakatao exploded nine month later accompanied by earthquakes and tsunami, 10,000 people died. The first pair of the Venus transits took place on June 8, 2004, six months later on December 26th 2004 the Sumatran undersea quake took place followed by a tsunami killing 230,000 people.

You can safely observe the event by viewing it indirectly over the internet:
Live Webcast Of The 2012 Transit

Related post about Venus: Venus spits fire

Image credit: NASA/LMSAL and Fred Espenak NASA/GSFC

Asteroid 2029 – only an exciting event in the sky or a real threat for mankind?

Asteroid Vesta
Asteroid 2004 MN4 also referred to as asteroid 2029, asteroid 99942 or Apophis asteroid had been first discovered in June 2004. This asteroid is about 300 meters wide and will come scarily close to Earth on Friday 13th of April 2029. Scarily close means the 2029 asteroid will fly past Earth only 30,000 km (18,600 miles) above the ground. For comparison, the average distance from Earth to the Moon is 384,400 km (238,855 miles), the geosynchronous satellites orbit at 36,000 km (22,300 miles). 

Asteroid Apophis is big enough to punch through Earth's atmosphere, devastating a region the size of France for example, if it hit any continent. Even more deadly it could cause widespread horrible tsunamis if it hit the ocean anywhere, 300 times more powerful than the 2004 Asian tsunami.

The chances for an impact on earth are estimated 1 in 240,000 by NASA, which sounds harmless, but some uncertainty remains. Asteroid 2029 has to pass a relatively small region of space known as a "keyhole" where Earth's gravitational pull would deflect its course just enough to change its way and guarantee a hit in 2036.
Asteroid IdaThe odds that asteroid 2029 could hit the earth are rated entirely reasonable by  Russian scientists, as they considered asteroid 2029 Apophis as the most serious threat to Earth as for now. The Russians plan to send a satellite with a radio beacon to near-Earth asteroid Apophis for finding out how big a threat of its collision with Earth really is. From a technical point of view the mission could be ready for implementation in 2015. On the other hand any influence on this object in its critical phase could do more harm than good.

As there are plenty of good scientific reasons for studying Apophis up close radar telescopes may be the safer choice. Ex Apollo astronaut Rusty Schweickart, who is deeply involved in studying potential threats from near-Earth objects, noted that there's are excellent opportunities for high-precision, Earth-based observations of the asteroid coming up in early 2013 and 2021. 

(Update Dec. 2012: More observations by scientists showed a probability of Asteroid 2029 passing through the keyhole is incredibly low, so the rating was eventually lowered to 0 these days.)
A few words why the asteroid is called Apophis. Tholen and Tucker, the two guys who discovered the near earth asteroid are fans of the TV series Stargate SG-1 and as anyone can suggest a name for an asteroid providing they have discovered it, they chose to name it Apophis. Btw, the word comes from Egyptian mythology and is the Greek name for Apep, the god of evil, darkness and chaos.

The chances of an asteroid approaching earth this close and with the same 2029 asteroid size is currently thought to occur at 1000-year intervals, on average.
During the last 10,000 years, an asteroid hitting Earth about 350 times with a size  between 50 to 100 meters in diameter. An object this size hit Tunguska in western Siberia in 1908, destroying 2,000 square kilometers of forest. The blast was at least 1,000 more powerful than the atomic bomb that destroyed Hiroshima in 1945.

Evidence of recent and prehistoric impact events:
65 mil. Years – Yucatan impact and extinction of the dinosaurs.
52,000 years - Lonar crater lake in India.
50,000 years - Barringer Crater in the USA.
10,000 years - Rio Cuarto craters in Argentina.
5,000 years - Henbury craters in Australia.
3,500 years - Kamil craters in Egypt.
2,700 years - Kaali craters in Estonia.
2500 years - Chiemgau in Bavaria, Germany.
500 years  - Shanxi Province in China.
100 years  - Tunguska in Sibiria.

We now know that the majority of asteroids that we see in our night sky come from an asteroid belt that exists between Mars and Jupiter. Another region of large objects further out is called the Kuiper belt and one outside our solar system called the Oort cloud.

As there are many near-Earth objects flying around in our solar system what is the definition of asteroid? Unfortunately there has never been a formal definition, as it can be any small Solar System body. You can distinguish an asteroid and a comet because a comet shows a coma due to the sublimation of its ices by solar radiation. A meteoroid is anything smaller than 10 meters in diameter.

While the asteroid 2029 chances to hit earth may small, there are other threats out there. Next year on February 15, 2013 asteroid, 2012 DA14, will miss the planet by 26,900 kilometers, which is even closer than Apophis, with the “Tunguska” size between 40 and 95 meters in diameter. Another candidate is 2011 AG5m, 140 m in diameter, with a given chance of 1-in-625  of hitting Earth on Feb. 5, 2040.

Hopefully Friday the 13th will be the lucky day where we have the chance to observe asteroid 2029 with the naked eye, from a save distance. Nobody in recorded history has ever seen an asteroid shining like a 3rd magnitude star even through city lights.

Asteroid pictures: 1. Vesta, 2. Ida

get more Asteroid News:
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
California Institute of Technology
La CaƱada Flintridge, CA, United States
Phone +1 818-354-4321

Solar Storm 2012 And Pole Shift

NASA scientists warned repeatedly at the risks of exceptionally strong solar storms between 2012 and 2013. Now the mass media seems to get aware of this dangers too, because one or the other sensational solar storm has already arrived. The last one occurred between 22. and 25. of January this year. This happened to be the strongest solar flares since 2005, listed category S3 (S5 is the highest). 

Latest Solar Storm 2012 Warning:

Saturday 14. July in the morning
NOAA predicts: minor
NASA predicts: strong to severe! Earth orbiting satellites could get disoriented and we could see “widespread voltage control problems” among other issues.

But solar storms are not the only danger we have to face, a possible magnetic pole shift is the other.

For centuries, the magnetic needle shows more or less to the same point in the Arctic. More or less, because the magnetic North Pole is anything but fixed. From year to year, it moved 10 km per year in a roughly predictable way. At the moment it travels about 40 km north-west annuually, and left the Canadian islands in the Arctic Ocean. With a constant movement it would reach Siberia in about 50 years. Measurements have shown that the migration speed at the moment.

But the migration of the North Pole is not its most amazing character. Geology knows that it has changed place with the south pole several times in history. The reasons why are not fully understood. There were 171 pole shifts within the last 76 million years. Pole shifts occur repeatedly in a cycle, the intervals are variable, however, a precise prediction is very difficult. But there are signs that precede a pole shift, such as severe climate changes and a rapid weakening of the geomagnetic field. Both are now observed clearly.

These factors and the fact that a geological pole shift is over due has caused many scientists to believe that we are in the early phase of a pole shift. Geological measurements confirm the increasing weakening of the geomagnetic field, since its maximum 2000 years ago it reaches only 38% today.

What would a pole shift mean to life on Earth?

There are numerous studies which show that animals like whales, dolphins, turtles, hummingbirds and gnus, use the Earth's magnetic field like a highway network to find feeding and breeding sites. Even though we humans are different that way, it seems the magnetic field has a considerable influence on our consciousness. It is known that magnetic fields have a significant impact on our nervous system, immune system and our perception of time, space, dreams and reality.

In 1993, international scientist made an astounding and sensational discovery: the human brain contains millions of magnetic particles that bind us to the Earth's magnetic field. If it changes, we are directly affected by it. The researchers localized areas on Earth where the magnetic field is particularly strong or particularly weak. Then they examined the cultural characteristics of the population of these regions.

The result was startling: In areas with a weak magnetic field, the people seem to adapt to new ideas much quicker than in areas with strong magnetic field. It is, for example, in California - a country that is world renowned for its innovation - very weak. However, in central Russia, where the magnetic field is particularly strong, historically upheaval are barely big.

Read more about Solar Storm