Green-News: Tuesday 1.13.09

  • People are getting hip to green energy, like wind and solar. Now, solar panels might be the cool new thing to stick on your house. But there’s a problem. When it snows, they get covered, rendering them powerless! So, many solar system owners are calling for a solution; The New York Times investigates.
  • California is considering legislation that would require retailers to only sell the most energy efficient LCD and plasma TVs. Naturally, industry leaders are opposing the laws, saying it’ll drive up prices and some manufacturers fear they won’t be able to meet increased standards; The Los Angeles Times explains.
  • Nowadays, even fitness is high-tech. Most gyms look like arcades. Seems like nobody just runs in the park anymore! So, if you’re looking to green your workout, consider buying a reusable water bottle, taking a bike ride, wearing organic workout clothes or encourage your gym to go green; via Huddler.
  • States in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast, including New Jersey, New York and Connecticut, have agreed to cut carbon emissions from transportation fuels. The effort will focus on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and adopting sustainable usage of renewable fuels; SustainableBusiness News reports.
  • Drinking water in the U.S. is in trouble. A new report has detected 11 unusual pollutants, including gemfibrozil, an anti-cholesterol drug, and naproxen, a painkiller and anti-inflammatory drug associated with heighten asthma risk. Experts say the low levels do not pose a health risk; via NewScientist.

Lead in the Lights...

Here’s good reason not to leave those holiday lights up until spring. A new study in the December issue of the Journal of Environmental Health reveals many types of Christmas lights contain dangerous levels of lead. The plastic coating on the cord sheds lead dust, especially when exposed to sunlight. Although scientists believe the risk is negligible, they are quick to point out, that no amount of lead is safe for children; Discovery News investigates.

And last year, a New Jersey-based research center tested 4 varieties of holiday lights and determined brands like Wal-Mart, GE, Sylvania and Philips, all had lead levels above the 15 microgram limit set by Consumer Product Safety Commission. However, some Philips test samples came back as low as 3.2 micrograms, but Wal-Mart brand lights clocked in as high as 132.7 micrograms of lead. Eek!

Lead lurks in a lot of places. Recently, it was discovered that 1 in 3 toys contain lead. And other things, like fishing tackle, sports turf and garden hoses, also pose a lead risk. To make matter worse, lead exposure has been linked anti-social behavior and criminal acts.

So, for next year, I found these 90% energy-efficient LED lights, the manufacturer claims they’re lead-free, with the exception of the cord; via the Children’s Health Environmental Coalition.