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SHORT TAKES

Posted in News Brief on October 7th, 2008

CALIFORNIA ADDS THE NATION’S FIRST LAW TO CONTROL GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS BY CURBING SPRAWL

Recently, California’s own Green Governator, Ahnold Schwarzenegger gave the go ahead to a landmark bill – - SB 375 by Senator Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) – - designed to control greenhouse gas emissions by curbing sprawl. SB 375 will prioritize funding for transportation projects that reduce urban sprawl and limit commute times. The bill is expected to have a major impact in the years to come as California’s cities grow.

Speaking of our Ahnold, lest anyone think that Maria’s boy toy has lost his republican edge, Schwarzenegger recently scrapped a proposal – -allegedly at the behest of VP Wanabee, Sarah Palin – - which would have imposed a “pollution tax” on all cargo entering California’s deep-water ports. Schwarzenegger’s action will rob the state off much needed funding that would have been earmarked for clean air activities.

In other miscellaneous California green news, the Governator also refused to authorize $3.1 million in funding for the state’s Department of Fish and Game to protect salmon, steelhead and a range of other endangered and threatened species , or to sign a bill, which would have banned toxic chemicals from food packaging.

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NEWS WATCH! CONGRESS SAYS ADIEU WITHOUT ADDRESSING GLOBAL WARMING

Posted in Global Warming, Government Shenanigans, News Brief on October 3rd, 2008

BUT THEY DID LEAVE BEHIND A SET OF PRINCIPLES TO AID THE NEXT CONGRESS IN CREATING COMPREHENSIVE GLOBAL WARMING LEGISLATION

The now empty CapitolWell friends, another legislative session has come and gone and still we don’t have a simple, coherent, well thought out plan to deal with Global Warming.

What we do have is a to-do list of principles; promises basically, intended to guide the next Congress when and if they finally get around to drafting comprehensive global warming legislation.

The principles, the brain child of House members Henry Waxman (D-CA), Ed Markey (D-MA), and Jay Inslee (D-WA), and co-signed by 152 of their fellow members include:

Reduce emissions to avoid dangerous global warming;

Transition America to a clean energy economy;

Recognize and minimize any economic impacts from global warming legislation; and

Aid communities and ecosystems vulnerable to harm from global warming.


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NEWS WATCH! BAD DAYS MAY BE AHEAD FOR SOLAR INDUSTRY

Posted in Alternative Energy, Clean Energy, Congressional Inaction, Cool Products, News Brief on September 17th, 2008

CONGRESS DRAGS ITS FEET RENEWING FEDERAL INVESTMENT TAX CREDIT

solarmodul1.JPGThe way it looks today, the federal investment tax credit (ITC), the financial instrument that powers many American homeowner’s move to solar power, may go away at the end of this year, unless Congress puts their partisan differences aside and renews the credit.

Should the ITC be allowed to expire, the cost to the US’s fledging Solar Industry could be as much as $8 billion dollars in investments and more than 39,000 solar-related jobs in 2009 alone.

Whereas should the ITC be renewed between now and the end of the year, “it could create enough solar energy to power as many as five million homes and provide tens of thousands of new jobs while eliminating 130 million metric tons of CO2 emissions per year”, according to NatGeo’s Green Guide.

Hopefully we will not have to wait until the next administration to see action on this all-important measure. What our elected officials, regardless of party affiliation, need to appreciate is that besides significantly reducing our nation’s carbon footprint, support of green industry and the jobs that it would create, would go a long way toward healing the ills created by the outsourcing of so many American jobs. Fix the job situation in this country and everything will work itself out.

– Denis

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COMMENTARY: “VAGINA MONOLOGUES” PLAYRIGHT, EVE ENSLER, TAKES ON SARAH PALIN

Posted in Eco Thugs, Eco Warriors, Endangered Species, Humane Treatment of Animals, News Brief on September 17th, 2008

eveensler.jpg“EVERYTHING SARAH PALIN BELIEVES IN AND PRACTICES IS ANTITHETICAL TO FEMINISM WHICH FOR ME IS PART OF ONE STORY CONNECTED TO SAVING THE EARTH, ENDING RACISM, EMPOWERING WOMEN, GIVING YOUNG GIRLS OPTIONS, OPENING OUR MINDS, DEEPENING TOLERANCE, AND ENDING VIOLENCE AND WAR” – - Eve Ensler

Lest we forget, Sarah Palin is in no way a friend of the environment. Her distain for her state’s natural treasures and the little value that she places on endangered animal life makes her fair gain for Ms. Ensler’s Commentary

Thanks to Hank Honig, my partner in the recoveringliberal.com for forwarding this to us.

A lifelong feminist, Ms. Ensler is best know as the author of the worldwide theatrical hit, the “Vagina Monologues”.

- Denis

DRILL, DRILL, DRIL!
by
Eve Ensler

I am having Sarah Palin nightmares. I dreamt last night that she was a member of a club where they rode snowmobiles and wore the claws of drowned and starved polar bears around their necks. I have a particular thing for Polar Bears. Maybe it’s their snowy whiteness or their bigness or the fact that they live in the arctic or that I have never seen one in person or touched one. Maybe it is the fact that they live so comfortably on ice. Whatever it is, I need the polar bears.

I don’t like raging at women. I am a Feminist and have spent my life trying to build community, help empower women and stop violence against them. It is hard to write about Sarah Palin. This is why the Sarah Palin choice was all the more insidious and cynical. The people who made this choice count on the goodness and solidarity of Feminists.

But everything Sarah Palin believes in and practices is antithetical to Feminism which for me is part of one story connected to saving the earth, ending racism, empowering women, giving young girls options, opening our minds, deepening tolerance, and ending violence and war.

I believe that the McCain/Palin ticket is one of the most dangerous choices of my lifetime, and should this country chose those candidates the fall-out may be so great, the destruction so vast in so many areas that America may never recover. But what is equally disturbing is the impact that duo would have on the rest of the world. Unfortunately, this is not a joke. In my lifetime I have seen the clownish, the inept, the bizarre be elected to the presidency with regularity.

Sarah Palin does not believe in evolution. I take this as a metaphor. In her world and the world of Fundamentalists nothing changes or gets better or evolves. She does not believe in global warming. The melting of the arctic, the storms that are destroying our cities, the pollution and rise of cancers, are all part of
God’s plan. She is fighting to take the polar bears off the endangered species list. The earth, in Palin’s view, is here to be> taken and plundered. The wolves and the bears are here to be shot and plundered. The oil is here to be taken and plundered. Iraq is here to be taken and plundered. As she said herself of the Iraqi war, ‘It was a task from God.’

Sarah Palin does not believe in abortion. She does not believe women who are raped and incested and ripped open against their will should have a right to determine whether they have their rapist’s baby or not.

She obviously does not believe in sex education or birth control. I imagine her daughter was practicing abstinence and we know how many babies that makes.

Sarah Palin does not much believe in thinking. From what I gather she has tried to ban books from the library, has a tendency to dispense with people who think independently. She cannot tolerate an environment of ambiguity and difference. This is a woman who could and might very well be the next President of the United States. She would govern one of the most diverse populations on the earth.

Sarah believes in guns. She has her own custom Austrian hunting rifle. She has been known to kill 40 caribou at a clip. She has shot hundreds of wolves from the air.

Sarah believes in God. That is of course her right, her private right. But when God and Guns come together in the public sector, when war is declared in God’s name, when the rights of women are denied in his name, that is the end of separation of church and state and the undoing of everything America has ever tried to be.

I write to my sisters. I write because I believe we hold this election in our hands. This vote is a vote that will determine the future not just of the U.S., but of the planet. It will determine whether we create policies to save the earth or make it forever uninhabitable for humans. It will determine whether we move towards dialogue and diplomacy in the world or whether we escalate violence through invasion, undermining and attack. It will determine whether we go for oil, strip mining, coal burning or invest our money in alternatives that will free us from dependency and destruction. It will determine if money gets spent on education and healthcare or
whether we build more and more methods of killing. It will determine whether America is a free open tolerant society or a closed place of fear, fundamentalism and aggression.

If the Polar Bears don’t move you to go and do everything in your power to get Obama elected then consider the chant that filled the hall after Palin spoke at the RNC, ‘Drill Drill Drill.’ I think of teeth when I think of drills. I think of rape. I think of destruction. I think of domination. I think of military exercises that force mindless repetition, emptying the brain of analysis, doubt, ambiguity or dissent. I think of pain.

Do we want a future of drilling? More holes in the ozone, in the floor of the sea, more holes in our thinking, in the trust between nations and peoples, more holes in the fabric of this precious thing we call life?

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THE ENVIRONMENTAL SINS OF SARAH PALIN

Posted in Clean Energy, News Brief on September 12th, 2008

LISTEN UP, THIS WOMAN IS NO FRIEND OF THE ENVIRONMENT

palin-with-gun1.jpgNow that the cutesy statements and campaign hyperbole has run its course, and the media has started to take a closer at Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin, it’s time for greenourscene.com to delve into the environmental positions of the woman who could become our nation’s next Vice President.

What follows, in no particular order, are her environmental decisions as Governor of Alaska as well as a brief summary of what she pledges to do if elected Vice President in November.

Governor Sarah Palin vetoed money for a major wind energy project.

Governor Palin opposed a crucial clean water initiative that would have banned metal mines from discharging pollution into salmon streams.

Governor Palin approved legislation allowing Chevron to triple the amount of toxic waste that it dumps into Cook Inlet, one of the state’s major fish breeding grounds. Ms. Palin took this action with the knowledge that the pollution and increased ship traffic would be devastating to the area’s beluga whale population and could in time result in the species extinction.

Governor Palin enthusiastically supported drilling in the Prudhoe Bay area, even with the knowledge that each year this activity resulted in “hundreds of spills involving tens of thousands of gallons of crude oil and other petroleum products.” At last count over 17,000 acres of wildlife and marine habitat had been destroyed.

Governor Palin opposed the Bush administration’s decision to award the polar bear protection under the Endangered Species Act. Her position was that protecting the polar bears would cripple energy development offshore. Governor Palin has been quoted as saying that “if the ice in the polar bears habitat should go away, the bears will adapt to living on the land.” Her administration is currently suing the Bushies to get them to reverse this decision.

Governor Palin has repeatedly, aligned herself with the discredited, fringe and ignored Global Warming’s effect on the Arctic summer sea ice, despite the fact that the ice cover has shrunk to about 1.65 million sq miles, or nearly 40% less than the long-term average between 1979 and 2000.

Governor Palin supported allowing big game hunters to stalk and shoot wolves and bears from helicopters and planes. Ms. Palin supported an initiative, which if successful would have offered a bounty of $150 per wolf, as long as the hunter provided the wolf’s foreleg as proof of the kill. She even spent $400,000 on a state-funded campaign to block attempts by environmentalists to end the hunt. Thankfully, the measure did not pass.

Big game hunters are happy to pay lots of money to shoot wolves and bears from the air. They also chase them across the snow to the point of exhaustion and then land the planes on skis, shooting them from point-blank range. The animals are considered endangered across the “lower 48″ states of America, but not Alaska. The hunters keep and sell the animals’ pelts.

Vice Presidential candidate Palin, has called for the expansion, without reservation, of nuclear power. Ironically, opposing her on this issue is the Bush administration’s in-house nuclear agency, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which has stated that it considers an atomic renaissance, at this point in time, a bad idea.

Vice Presidential candidate Palin says that she would push for drilling along the entire Alaskan coastal plain, as well as in the Arctic Preserve, the latter home to migratory caribou herds, musk oxen, wolverines, grizzly and polar bears. Furthermore, Governor Palin is quoted as saying that she favors drilling, even when nothing may be found, because not finding oil “is no excuse to do nothing at all.”

Vice Presidential candidate Palin favors opencast coal mining in Alaska’s Brooks Range Mountains. This is just a fancy way of saying strip mining, the process where the top of the mountain is torn of for easy access to the minerals that lie beneath. Most environmentalists consider this process of mining “rape of the earth”.


BREAKING NEWS!
In what can only be described as a major environmental flip-flop, Vice Presidential candidate Palin has stepped away from her earlier assertion that man’s actions have played no part in Global Warming. The candidate now believes that “attributing some of man’s activities to potentially causing some of the changes in the climate right now.”

- Denis Donovan

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ANTIQUATED ELECTRIC GRID HAMPERS THE SPREAD OF WIND AND SOLAR ENERGY

Posted in Alternative Energy, Clean Energy, News Brief, Sustainable Energy on September 1st, 2008

UPGRADING THE GRID IS A LOGISTIC NIGHTMARE WITH 500 OWNERS AND FIFTY STATES WEIGHING IN.

windturbin11.jpgAs is so often the case when discussing ways to reduce our carbon footprint, there are good and bad issues that need to be addressed.

In this instance, the good news is that wind and solar power are finally being seriously recognized for their ability to generate massive amounts of clean, non-toxic, relatively inexpensive eclectic power.

The bad news, however, is that our nation’s eclectic transmission “grid” – - the superhighway of sorts that you hear so much about and through which energy travels from point of generation to point of use – - is so hopelessly outdated that significant amounts of this clean new power is unable to make its way to the areas that need it the most.

Simple problem you might say. Just build a new one the way T. Boone ‘Windaddy’ Pickens is doing way down yonder in ole’ Texas town. Problem solved, you say with the smirk of one who have merely spoken the obvious, and is sorta’ amazed that others didn’t mention it first.

But my friends, it is not so easy…

The current grid is not only over a century old, and held together with chewing gum and band-aids, but bits and pieces of it are owned by over 500 separate entities.

Before renovations could proceed, all 500 of them would have to agree on the plan that would then have to be approved by the 50 sates that maintain regulatory control over those companies and this system. Then there are the permits – - mountains of state, federal and local permits – - not to mention the battles with the property owners that must approve every addition to the “grid”.

In short, this is one long drawn-out logistical nightmare.

Of course, we could always go in another direction and kiss off the grid altogether and adopt a more localized model. This would differ from our current system in that the power generated in an area would stay in that area and not be parsed out to wherever.

But even this is inferior to the idea that is starting to take hold among independent minded men and women lately, which is for homeowners and apartment owning entities to generate their own electric power through a combination of rooftop wind and solar generating apparatus.

This would be the best scenario, as it would allow individuals and families to get totally off the grid and say goodbye to out of control eclectic bills that will only continue to rise in the months and years to come.

Now I know your going to tell me how expensive going solar or adding wind turbines can be. Here, there is more good news, which is that as the apparatus becomes more mainstream; costs are coming down from previous sky-high levels.

As of this writing, numerous additional manufacturing companies – - both domestic and foreign – - have entered the business of manufacturing the technology for such conversions, meaning not only is their greater flexibility in pricing, but more options in terms of styling and materials used.

These include the introduction of ordinary looking ceiling tiles that are actually photovoltaic panels, as well as numerous styles of low profile wind turbines intended to replace those huge propeller drive assemblies in areas where space is at a premium.

Furthermore, numerous states and the federal government now have financing options – - in the form of tax credits – - available for homeowners seeking to make the switch to wind and/or solar.

Additionally, some of the panel-manufacturing companies have started offering long-term lease/purchase agreements allowing homeowners to install now and pay over time with the money that otherwise would have gone to the power companies.

Now thats a win-win if I ever heard one.

- DENIS

EDITOR’S NOTE! In the coming months we will make it a point to feature some of the latest technological advances in this field.

Continue reading about the “grid”

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NEWS WATCH! CALIFORNIA SAYS A BIG YES TO SOLAR ENERGY

Posted in Alternative Energy, Clean Energy, Eco -Chic, News Brief, Renewable Energy, Sustainable Living on August 15th, 2008

GOLDEN STATE WILL BUILD TWO SOLAR ARRAYS CAPABLE OF GENERATING AS MUCH ELECTRICITY AS A LARGE COAL-BURNING POWER PLANT OR A SMALL NUCLEAR PLANT

solarfarm2.jpegPlans have just been announced to build two solar power installations here in our home state of California, which during peak hours on a sunny day will generate more than 800 megawatts of power, or 12 times as much electricity as the largest solar farm does today.

The two solar farms, which will cover an estimated 12.5 square miles of San Luis Obispo County in Central California, are expected to generate enough electricity to supply 239,000 homes. Viewed another way, this is as much power as is generated by a large coal-burning plant or a small nuclear plant, without the obvious environmental devastation both of these energy sources creates.

Two California companies will split the task with Hayward, California-based OptiSolar Inc., building the larger of the two installations. Plans call for the privately held company’s Topaz Solar Farm to generate 550 MW of solar power when it is fully operational in 2013. The company plans to utilize amorphous silicon solar panels, which are less costly than the traditional silicon-based panels that dominate the market.

Joining OptiSolar Inc in the massive task is San Jose-based SunPower Inc., which will build a 250 MW solar ranch, also in Central California. SunPower’s silicon-based solar cells are among the most efficient in the industry at transforming sunlight into electricity. The latter project is expected to be fully operational in 2012.

Both deals, however, are contingent upon the extension of key federal tax credits the renewal of which is tied up in the congressional fight over offshore drilling.

Plans are for both companies to sell the electricity generated to Pacific Gas & Electric, to help the utility meet a state mandate that 20 percent of its electricity comes from renewable sources by 2010.

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NEWS WATCH! CLEAN GREEN RETRO MASS TRANSIT RE-EMERGES

Posted in Alternative Fuel Vehicles, Clean Energy, Conscious Actions, Eco -Chic, Global Warming, News Brief, Renewable Energy, Sustainable Transportation on August 15th, 2008

OVER 40 US CITIES CONSIDER RESTORING STREETCAR LINES AS SMOG -FREE MASS TRANSIT ALTERNATIVE.

seattle-streetcar-opening-d.jpgMost of us are too young to remember streetcars; those early twentieth century train/bus hybrid vehicles powered by overhead electric lines that ran on rails flush with the pavement, stopping frequently to pick up and disgorge passengers from entrance/exits on both sides.

Well it appears that this novel, fun means of early twentieth century transportation is just what the doctor ordered to help relieve deadlock in today’s overcrowded clean-energy conscious world.

Citing reasons including spurring economic development, easing traffic congestion and as a way to draw hip young professionals and empty-nest baby boomers back from the suburbs, over forty US cities are considering reactivating streetcars, which for the most part fell victim in the late 1940’s through mid 1950’s to aggressive automobile and oil industry lobbying.

More than a dozen US cities already have existing streetcar lines, including New Orleans, Portland, Seattle, Tacoma and San Francisco, while Denver, Houston, Cincinnati, Salt Lake City and Charlotte, N.C., either have already introduced, or are planning to introduce streetcars.

At a cost of about $3 million dollars per streetcar and an average capacity of 130 passengers per car, it seems that this is a bargain that cities can not afford to let pass them by, particularly with all of the uncertainty surrounding future fuel prices and the crap that our country has to put up with from oil producing nations.

Now if we could only get the electricity to power the streetcars from clean renewable sources, it would be a win-win for everyone.

- – Denis

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NEWS WATCH! FISH, CRABS, SHRIMP, HEADED TO EXTINCTION

Posted in Endangered Species, Health Watch, New Scientific Data, News Brief, Toxin Alert! on August 15th, 2008

OVER 400 OXYGEN DEPLETED “DEAD ZONES” PLAGUE WORLD’S OCEANS

dead_zone_-_sediment.jpgFertilizer runoff, fossil fuel burning, sewage and pollution-fed algae, are among the items being blamed for depleting ocean oxygen, killing sea life and creating over 400 worldwide “Dead Zones”, covering an area of 95,000 square miles, according to researchers writing in the latest edition of Science.

Hypoxia, as the condition is known, is not a new phenomenon, but as the number of “Dead Zones” has doubled each decade since the 1960’s, it is one that requires immediate attention. Failure to do so, experts tell us, could lead to a day in the not too distant future when man is no longer able to extract enough fish, shrimps, crabs and other sea life from the oceans to feed himself.

The newest “Dead Zones” are being found in the Southern Hemisphere in South America, Africa, and parts of Asia, according to researchers.

Closer to home, the largest U.S. dead zone is at the mouth of the Mississippi River, which at latest count covers some 8,000 square miles. Also threatened is Washington State’s Samish Bay and Yaquina Bay in Oregon.

For more information about “Dead Zones”

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HOW TO SAFELY HANDLE COMPACT FLOURESCENT LIGHTS (CFL’S)

Posted in Alternative Energy, Cool Products, Health Watch, News Brief, Toxin Alert! on August 6th, 2008

BECAUSE CFL’S CONTAIN A SMALL AMOUNT OF MERCURY, THE EPA HAS ESTABLISHED GUIDELINES TO OBSERVE WHEN HANDLING, DISPOSING OF, OR CLEANING UP BROKEN CFL’S

250px-compact-flourescent-bulb2.jpg As more and more of us convert out incandescent home lighting to the new soft light compact fluorescent lights, it is important to remember that these odd looking bulbs contain small amounts of mercury.

For that reason the EPA has developed guidelines to observe when handling, disposing of, or cleaning up broken CFL’s.

We here at Greenourscene.com urge you to take a moment and observe the best ways to handle CFL’s.

-Denis

INSTALLING CFL’S

Be careful when removing the bulb from its packaging, installing it, or replacing it.

Always screw and unscrew the light bulb by its base (not the glass), and NEVER forcefully twist the CFL into a light socket.

WHAT SHOULD I DO WHEN A CFL WEARS OUT?

PROPER DISPOSAL: Contact your area recycling company to see if they have a program for disposing of worn out or broken CFL’s. If the answer is no, or you are unsure of who to contact, go to www.epa.gov/bulbrecycling or ww.earth911.org to identify local recycling options.

NOTE! Some areas permit you to put used or broken CFLs in the garbage. If this applies to your area seal the bulb in two plastic bags and put it into the outside trash, or other protected outside location, for the next normal trash collection.

It is important that you NEVER send a fluorescent light bulb or any other product containing mercury to an incinerator.

WHAT IS THE SAFEST WAY TO CLEAN UP A BROKEN CFL?

BEFORE CLEAN-UP:

Air Out the Room – Have people and pets leave the room, and don’t let anyone walk through the breakage area on their way out.

Shut off the central forced-air heating/air conditioning system, open a window and leave the room for 15 minutes or more.

CLEAN-UP STEPS FOR HARD SURFACES

Carefully scoop up glass fragments and powder using stiff paper or cardboard and place them in a glass jar with a metal lid (such as a canning jar) or in a sealed plastic bag.

Use sticky tape, such as duct tape, to pick up any remaining small glass pieces and powder.

Wipe the area clean with damp paper towels or disposable wet wipes. Place towels in the glass jar or plastic bag.

Do not use a vacuum or broom to clean up the broken bulb on hard surfaces.

CLEAN-UP STEPS FOR CARPETING OR RUG:

Carefully pick up glass fragments and place them in a glass jar with metal lid (such as a canning jar) or in a sealed plastic bag.

Use sticky tape, such as duct tape, to pick up any remaining small glass fragments and powder.

If vacuuming is needed after all visible materials are removed, vacuum the area where the bulb was broken.

Remove the vacuum bag (or empty and wipe the canister), and put the bag or vacuum debris in a sealed plastic bag

CLEAN-UP STEPS FOR CLOTHING, BEDDING, ETC.:

If clothing or bedding materials come in direct contact with broken glass or mercury-containing powder from inside the bulb that may stick to the fabric, the clothing or bedding should be thrown away. Do not wash such clothing or bedding because mercury fragments in the clothing may contaminate the machine and/or pollute sewage.

You can, however, wash clothing or other materials that have been exposed to the mercury vapor from a broken CFL, such as the clothing you are wearing when you cleaned up the broken CFL, as long as that clothing has not come into direct contact with the materials from the broken bulb.

If shoes come into direct contact with broken glass or mercury-containing powder from the bulb, wipe them off with damp paper towels or disposable wet wipes. Place the towels or wipes in a glass jar or plastic bag for disposal.

DISPOSAL OF CLEAN-UP MATERIALS

Immediately place all clean-up materials outdoors in a trash container or protected area for the next normal trash pickup.

Wash your hands after disposing of the jars or plastic bags containing clean-up materials.

Check with your local or state government about disposal requirements in your specific area. Some states do not allow such trash disposal. Instead, they require that broken and unbroken mercury-containing bulbs be taken to a local recycling center.

FUTURE CLEANING OF CARPETING OR RUG

Air Out the Room During and After Vacuuming

The next several times you vacuum, shut off the central forced-air heating/air conditioning system and open a window before vacuuming.

Keep the central heating/air conditioning system shut off and the window open for at least 15 minutes

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