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UPDATE: CFL bulbs save money, but threaten safety

In Children and Family, Dayton Ohio News, Environment, Health, Home Improvement, Opinion, Politics, Science, Technology, Uncategorized on June 10, 2014 at 8:40 am

GLD_CFL_TV2_SCREENSHOTSpecial Update / Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in November of 2013 and updated in April 2014. Since that time, and investigative report by Pam Elliot at WDTN-TV, 2News in Dayton has yielded the following information on the dangers of CFL bulbs.

Deer In Headlines author and Jamestown Comet publisher, Gery L. Deer, was tapped as the initial interview source for the investigation based on the content of this edition of his column. Here for you is the video from that investigation which aired on Monday, May 19, 2014.

Click here for a link to the full 2News investigative story which includes suggestions for the safe use of CFL bulbs.

 

dih-logo-SEApril 7, 2014 – The incandescent light bulb was developed in 1876 by Thomas Edison, founder of General Electric. But as more energy efficient technology is introduced, even Edison’s greatest achievement has been all but extinguished forever. On September 24th, 2013, it was announced that the last of the incandescent light bulbs had rolled off the GE assembly line to be replaced by compact fluorescents, or “CFLs.” The spiral-twisted tube bulbs use low-energy, fluorescent technology and there is really nothing cutting-edge about them, except for their size and the potential fire risk when they go bad.

Fluorescent lighting has been around since the late 19th Century, but wasn’t developed for widespread use until the 1930s. Less expensive to operate than their incandescent counterparts, most of the bulbs last longer and are safe for everyday use. But as the environmentalist lobby pushes for more energy-efficient or, “green,” technology, has the heightened concern for the environment surpassed that for human safety? Recently I went into my kitchen and switched on the light over the sink, as I did countless times throughout the week. I left the room for a moment and when I returned it was dark, the familiar morning glow of the light fixture having just been replaced with the smell of burned ceramic and melted plastic. Upon investigation I discovered that the CFL bulb in the overhead light had quite literally burned out.

20W CFL Bulb from Gery Deer's kitchen.   Photo by Gery L. Deer

20W CFL Bulb from Gery Deer’s kitchen. Photo by Gery L. Deer

Just before it went dark, the 20-Watt, General Electric CFL bulb I had installed a few months earlier had gone so hot that it flamed through the plastic and ceramic base, causing it to melt and crack at the bottom of the glass tubing. The discovery of such a potential fire hazard was, to say the least, surprising, but apparently the problem is well-documented and manufacturers have been aware of it since the product’s release.

In a Snopes.com article John Drengenberg, consumer affairs manager at Underwriters Laboratories (UL), said about how CFLs expire, “People expect to see the bright flash and to hear the popping like a traditional incandescent bulb, but the burn out of a CFL is different. The light dims over time and might produce a more dramatic pop, emit a distinct odor, and maybe even release some smoke.” Drengenberg is referring to the Voltage Dependent Resistor (VDR). The CFL burns out when the ballast overheats, causing the VDR to open the circuit like a blown fuse and prevent any hazards.

Instead of resulting in a mild puff of smoke, however, the heat generated can, as in my case, burn through the base. As I dug deeper into this issue, I discovered countless articles, videos and online debates regarding the safety of CLF lighting and how there might be more to their compulsory introduction than simply reducing energy costs. It’s important to note here that Underwriters Laboratories is not a government agency but a private company paid by manufacturers to “certify” the safety of their products.

DP&L has a vested interest in getting these bulbs out to the public. It's unclear where that interest lies, but here is the proof - a Walmart display in Xenia, Ohio offers huge discounts.

DP&L has a vested interest in getting these bulbs out to the public. It’s unclear where that interest lies, but here is the proof – a Walmart display in Xenia, Ohio offers huge discounts.

In the early 1990s, I worked for a major appliance manufacturer as an engineering technologist following UL guidelines in operational and safety testing of ovens, ranges and cook-tops. In my experience, a bit of heat and smoke being released from a popping resister is, by itself, not enough to cause the kind of damage apparently so common with this product.

I am well aware of UL testing practices and it is beyond my comprehension how anything short of political pressure could be responsible for the approval of a consumer electronics product that literally lets flame out of its casing. From a consumer standpoint, it’s baffling to me how UL, or the Federal Trade Commission – the governmental agency responsible for consumer safety, can justify the approval of a device that clearly presents a fire safety hazard under “normal use” conditions. Incidentally, the CFLs also contain mercury, another potential environmental health hazard often conveniently overlooked.

It is entirely possible that these products were rushed to market, not so much to help reduce pollution or save money for the consumer, but to further a political agenda. Whatever the reason, the consumer should be aware of the inherent dangers and always be careful when using CFL lighting.  (End original story.)

Here are some detailed photos of the original, failed bulb. General Electric requested it be returned for investigation (we have complied).

 

UPDATE : June 6, 2014 – Today Gery L. Deer received several boxes of light bulbs from General Electric (Pictured below). The shipment included several packages of original, incandescent bulbs and several packages of LED bulbs. Once again, it is important to note that Gery insisted to GE’s representatives, by phone, he was not looking for any sort of restitution, but simply wanted to make the public aware of the dangers surrounding these bulbs. But, here they are anyway.

An assortment of incandescent and LED light bulbs sent to Gery L. Deer by General Electric on June 6.

An assortment of incandescent and LED light bulbs sent to Gery L. Deer by General Electric on June 6.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

VIDEO UPDATE: June 10, 2014 – Hard to believe – ANOTHER shipment of LED light bulbs from General Electric. These are of a totally different style and are said to “distribute” light more efficiently. Watch the video for a complete follow up.

 

Jamestown Comet Editor Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business contributor to WDTN-TV2’s Living Dayton program. More at www.gerydeer.com.

Godzilla: King of the anti-nuclear message

In Entertainment, Environment, Movies, National News, Opinion, Politics, Science, Technology, Uncategorized, World News on May 12, 2014 at 12:00 pm

 

DIH LOGOIn 1955, the Japanese film company, Toho, Inc., introduced America to “Godzilla, King of the Monsters.” The bulky, green monster terrified audiences in the marginally familiar form of an enormous T-Rex, with notable size differences, muscular body and bigger arms and all brought to life by a puppeteer in a rubbery body suit. Originally called by the Japanese word, “Gojira,” meaning “gorilla whale,” the monster was so successful he’s been a worldwide star since his first black and white appearance in Tokyo.

Uncertain how a Japanese film would fare only a decade after the end of World War II, American exhibitors insisted an “American” element be added to make the dubbed, foreign monster flick more relatable to U.S. audiences. So, who better to report on the devastation than one of the most trusted faces on television at the time, Perry Mason himself, Raymond Burr. Not included in the Japanese version, Burr played an American journalist reporting on Godzilla’s attack into a tape recorder from the safety of a nearby office building.

During the 1960s and 70s Godzilla made his way into color features where his ominous appearance was softened a bit and his character reworked a bit from a menace to more of a hero as he battled other creatures threatening Tokyo from Monster Island. His gigantic, “30-story” upright posture, signature stomp, glowing dorsal plates and fiery breath were a hit with movie goers around the world.

Gozilla's original appearance in Japan, 1954. He appeared in America a year later.

Gozilla’s original appearance in Japan, 1954. He appeared in America a year later.

In 1985, Godzilla reappeared in a more serious, direct sequel to the original. Although the monster had made countless appearances in other, sillier films, like “Godzilla vs. King Kong,” and “Godzilla vs. Mothra,” this reprisal brought Godzilla back to his roots – as a devastating, uncontrollable statement on the increasing nuclear scare at the peak of the Cold War.

Although it was no longer necessary to smooth over American audiences, Raymond Burr reprised his role from the original film in a few scenes added to the U.S. release to provide continuity and attract a nostalgic audience. “Godzilla 1985,” did well at the box office and even better in the newly-minted home video market.

Fast forward a few years to 1998, when the monster was licensed by Tri-Star Pictures for an American, almost campy, version set in New York City. Studied by a worm biologist played by the likable Matthew Broderick (Ferris Bueller’s Day Off / The Producers), Godzilla takes up residence in Manhattan and is hunted by the US Military who manages to lay waste to everything except their target, even wrecking the iconic Chrysler Building. A liberally-preachy, anti-nuclear storyline and a totally computer-animated Godzilla, that didn’t look or act much like the original, completely failed to lure audiences.

Over the years, Godzilla appeared in 28 films and an American cartoon show. He even achieved the honor of a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. But the origins of the character are deep in Japan’s nuclear pain and far more serious than most people might know.

Godzilla as he will look in the 2014 version.

Godzilla as he will look in the 2014 version.

Like the newest American incarnation set for release in May 2014, Godzilla is portrayed as a mutation directly resulting from nuclear testing, emphasizing the need to do away with these weapons. He was, essentially, the symbol of everything that can go wrong with nuclear power and weaponry.

The underlying message in the more serious Godzilla story lines is that use of nuclear weapons and power has unimaginable consequences. A mutation that can cause a giant monster with nuclear powered breath is a pretty good personification.

In any case, the new film is sticking closer to the original concept, not just in story but in the look and actions of the monster himself. He’s a rampaging beast and the addition of Breaking Bad’s Bryan Cranston, adds another level of drama to a once-campy character.

In no loss of irony, Japan is the only country in the world whose people have experienced the horrible result of nuclear devastation and America is the only country who has ever inflicted it on anyone else. It’s somehow fitting that people from both countries come together to create a fictional character that personifies the horror that can result.
Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business contributor to the WDTN-TV2 program, Living Dayton. More at http://www.gerydeer.com.

 

 

 

Campaign educates drivers about distracted driving

In Children and Family, Education, Environment, Health, Local News, Technology, Uncategorized on April 2, 2014 at 7:19 pm

DDXENIA, OH – In an effort to make our roads safer, the Greene County Safe Communities Coalition announced today that it has joined the “One Text or Call Could Wreck It All” campaign to stop distracted driving.  April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month and the Coalition has pledged its support to help spread the message that distracted drivers are not only a danger to themselves, but everyone else on the road.

“We all know that talking on our cell phones while driving is distracting, but that doesn’t stop most people from continuing to do it,” said Laurie Fox, Safe Communities Coordinator.  “This effort is intended to educate our community about the dangers of cell phone use and other distractions while driving.  We hope that once people see the statistics and realize the danger involved, they will change their driving habits to help protect themselves, their families, and others on the road.”

In 2012, 3,328 people were killed in crashes involving a distracted driver and an estimated additional 421,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving a distracted driver. That same year, eleven percent of fatal crashes were reported as distraction-affected crashes.

While anything that takes your eyes off the road, hands off the wheel, or mind off the task of driving is a hazard, there is heightened concern about the risks of texting while driving because it combines all three types of distraction – visual, manual and cognitive.

The national distracted driving effort focuses on ways to change the behavior of drivers through legislation, enforcement, public awareness and education – the same activities that have curbed drunk driving and increased seat belt use.

“Every driver in Greene County has a role in this effort,” said Fox.  “However, we especially want to reach out to parents with teen drivers because we know that statistically, the under-20 age group had the highest proportion of distracted drivers involved in fatal crashes.”

The Coalition’s goal is simple – save lives by getting drivers to remember that “One Text or Call Could Wreck It All.”  All drivers are encouraged to put down the phone and arrive alive.

For more information about distracted driving, please visit www.distraction.gov, or you can contact Laurie Fox at 937-374-5669 or lfox@gcchd.org.  

LIVE! With Michael and Kelly announces Gery L. Deer as guest host.

In Environment, Local News, television on April 1, 2014 at 10:14 am

Gery_Live_April_FoolNew York, NY – April 1, 2014 – Producers of the hit daytime television program, Live! With Michael and Kelly, announce the newest guest host. Writer, entrepreneur Gery L. Deer will join the list of guest hosts to head up the popular morning entertainment show after a successful run as a regular guest on the popular Dayton, Ohio talk show, “Living Dayton.”

An award-nominated writer and marketing expert, the Jamestown, Ohio native is no stranger to the national television stage, having appeared on programs like America’s Got Talent, The Bonnie Hunt Show and Steve Harvey’s Big Time.

An attempt was made to contact Deer, but the only word from his representative, one Bray T Cat, was, “Meow.”
YES THIS WAS AN APRIL FOOL’S DAY JOKE. THANKS FOR PLAYING! (But if Kelly and Michael are reading, I’d be happy to co-host! – Gery D.

 

 

 

 

Alas, the plight of the plastic shopping bag

In Business, Economy, Education, Environment, Health, history, National News, Opinion, Politics, Science, Uncategorized on March 31, 2014 at 8:42 am

Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer
The Jamestown Comet Editor

bag_blowingTake a look around outside after a storm and you’ll see them, clinging to the lathe of a garden fence like barnacles to a ship’s hull – those sad, indigent, plastic shopping bags. They’re everywhere, bouncing along the roadside, hung up in the branches of your backyard tree, even melted and tangled around the undercarriage of your car. Once revered for their strength and amazingly useful handles, these marvels of modern shopping are now the scourge of environmental political correctness.

With humble beginnings in 1950s Sweden, the modern plastic shopping bag was the creation of engineer Sten Gustaf Thulin who developed the simple, one-piece bag for Celloplast, the company which patented the design in 1965. Popularity of the product grew rapidly, for a time even knocking paper bags into relative obscurity.

Never again would husbands need worry about earning a night in the doghouse after losing a gallon of milk to the pavement when it crashed through the bottom of a wet paper sack. But, it was that set of wonderfully brilliant handles that really endeared the bags to shoppers. Since the dawn of time, mothers everywhere have struggled on shopping trips to juggle groceries and family.

With plastic bags, Mom now had the ability to carry half a dozen fully loaded bags on her arms while clutching Junior in one hand and the dog’s leash in the other. Her world now under complete control, at least for one brief moment, thanks to a simple pair of parallel holes in a plastic tube. Once the groceries were put away, she could even re-use them to line the bathroom wastebasket with a water-proof bag that fit both the can and her household budget.

PBThere was no doubt the plastic shopping bag was truly a miracle of modern commerce. By 1982, most major grocery chains, including Kroger, began replacing paper shopping bags with plastic citing cost savings and customer preference. Sadly, however, as with most other success stories, rival jealousy led to ridicule and scrutiny, mostly from operatives of the paper bag industry determined to unseat the plastic bag from its world-wide fame.

By the 1990s, world ecologists became increasingly vocal about plastic’s potentially destructive effects on the environment. Soon, the plastic shopping bag became an innocent by-stander, caught up in the ever increasing fight between good and evil, liberal and conservative, environmentalist and capitalist – or whoever was paying the most lobbyists. More than ever, environmental groups were touting the need for more extensive use of recyclable materials in consumer goods.

Almost overnight, the plastic shopping bag became the poster child for everything wrong with the environment as pundits heatedly debated their recyclability on cable news and in fiercely negative op-eds.  As usual, the critics had it all wrong because plastic shopping bags were every bit as recyclable as their paper counterparts, but were, in a way, victims of their own success.

As it turned out, the very innovations that made plastic shopping bags so powerful in the supermarket were like Kryptonite to the sorting machines used in recycling. When put through, they bound up the machinery and left it jammed and inert, and the cost to overcome that problem outweighed the benefits.

For years, rumors of a plastic bag uprising have permeated the media, suggesting that millions of these poor, trodden-down bags were massing a resistance in landfills all over America. There, they waited silently, collectively preparing to strike back against their opposition by refusing to decompose, even over thousands of years.

Sadly, an empty threat, since the structure of a landfill is meant to keep the refuse dry and stable, limiting degradation. Nothing is intended to fully decompose; not paper, not food, not plastic … nothing. In fact, newspapers buried in the 1960s have recently been exhumed intact and readable.

Perhaps one day, the full truth of their story will be exposed and plastic shopping bags will regain their once proud position at the end of the checkout. But for now, these bags exist as second-class totes, drifting like tumbleweeds on the wind, dancing their lament of a time when they were kings of the market.
Deer In Headlines is available for syndication. Contact GLD Enterprises Commercial Writing – http://www.gldenterprises.net.