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Last updateThu, 11 Apr 2024 9am

Mercury content in compact fluorescent light bulbs causes concern

    While Canadians won’t have to change out their standard incandescent light bulb with the modern compact fluorescent bulbs (CFL) come January 1, there are many questioning if the plan does more harm than good.
    There were plans to implement the Energy Efficiency Regulation come 2012, but it has been amended to 2014. This would see the phase-out of general service light bulbs from 40 watts to 100 watts to be replaced with more efficient lighting units.
    The most common high efficiency bulbs on the market right now are the CFL bulbs. Typical 13-15 watt CFL bulbs can produce the lighting equivalent of a common 60-watt bulb. While there is great potential for energy savings, the bulbs contain mercury. This has become a disposal issue and many believe a threat to health.
    “I am not very happy with the direction of the government is going. By 2014 they will no longer allow the importation of or the manufacturing (of incandescent bulbs), which means we will be forced to go to CFL bulbs,” said Tammi Nygaard, operations manager for the Drumheller and District Solid Waste Association. “CFLs in my opinion are literally hazardous. There is mercury and mercury vapor in them, more than a standard fluorescent tube. They are extremely toxic, and if they break, there is a big description of how you are supposed to deal with them.”
    According to the Alberta Environment website, while CFL bulbs contain mercury and pose disposal issues, they actually reduce the amount of mercury in the environment.
    “…the highest source of mercury entering the atmosphere occurs through the burning of fossil fuels for energy. Incandescent bulbs consume significantly more energy than fluorescent bulbs, so they result in greater mercury emissions over the life cycle of the bulbs. By using fluorescent bulbs, you are reducing both your energy use and your overall mercury emissions,” it said.
    While the bulbs do not pose a risk when they are intact, if they break, Natural Resources Canada has a cleanup procedure, which includes opening a window to ventilate;  using rubber gloves, then remove as much debris with stiff paper or cardboard and place it in a plastic bag. If the bulb breaks on a hard surface, wipe the area with a damp paper towel. If the bulb breaks on a carpeted area, sticky tape such as duct tape can remove broken glass. 
    While some websites say not to vacuum the area, Natural Resources Canada says to vacuum only if necessary, but you need to dispose of the vacuum bag in a plastic bag. If the vacuum does not have a bag, it is recommended to wipe the interior of the vacuum.
    Dispose of the debris the same way you would dispose of the bulb.
    “The average person does not know they cannot put these in the garbage,” said Nygaard. 
    Nygaard said the Drumheller and District Solid Waste Association takes the CFL bulbs free of charge as a part of their toxic waste round up. Residents can bring them to the landfill and inform the gatehouse they wish to dispose of them.
    The CFL bulbs are taken and safely disposed of by DBS Environmental in Lethbridge.
    “We want to make sure they are handled properly and disposed of properly,” she said.
    Nygaard believes the potential energy saving of the bulbs is not worth the risk.
    “I am really disappointed the government, under the guise of reducing our carbon footprint and saving energy, is making these mandatory,” she said. “I think the public should have a choice, we are intelligent and can make our own decisions for what is best for our families.”
    She recommends that people do the research, and if they are concerned,  voice their concerns to their MP and MLAs.
    Her simple answer to those who want to reduce their carbon footprints: turn off the lights when not in use.


Santa’s Christmas Dinner returns for 29th year

    After a banner year of serving 284 guests to a Christmas feast, Santa’s little helpers are back in action on Christmas Day continuing a valley tradition.
    Santa’s Christmas Dinner is back for another season. Hosted since 1983, it has gone from simply being a dinner among friends when there was no other venue to becoming many family’s Christmas celebration. At its heart lies the belief that no one needs to be alone on Christmas.
    “My girls and I had a blast hosting the dinner last year,” said Mike Yavis, whose restaurant is hosting again this year. “It was so great to see the restaurant packed with customers and friends who chose to spend Christmas with us. It’s a highlight of our Christmas”.
    The door is wide open to those who don’t have plans, maybe those who are not able to travel to be with family, maybe those who don’t want to make a huge dinner, or those who don’t have the means.  Many others have made it their own Christmas tradition.
    Volunteers will also bring meals to those who are not able to leave their homes to attend. They also have a shuttle for those in need of transportation.
    A core of volunteers has assembled to plan this year’s dinner, but there is always room for more help. Whether it be serving, cooking or entertaining, all are welcome.
    The dinner goes from noon to 3 p.m. on Christmas Day. While the event has been held at a number of venues, last year Yavis Family Restaurant came forward to share in the Christmas spirit, and this year they are hosting it again.
    “We’re putting the final touches on the preparations for this year. I want to thank the 40+ volunteers who work each year to make this dinner a success,” said Amy Yavis.
    For more information on the event, to volunteer, or arrange for a ride or a drop off, contact Century 21 at 403-823-2121 or contact Bob Sheddy at 403-823-2222.

Drumheller RCMP needs help from citizens

    The Drumheller RCMP Detachment is asking residents to lend a hand to help stop crime in the area. The Drumheller RCMP covers a huge area, extending north slightly past Rumsey, south to Rosebud, east to Delia, and west just shy of Highway 21.
    The RCMP needs citizens to help monitor the area.
    Citizens on Patrol and Rural Crime watch are two volunteer organizations that donate their time to patrol neighbourhoods.
    The two organizations are non profit and work alongside RCMP to provide extra pairs of eyes and ears. Any suspicious activity is immediately reported to the RCMP.
    “When they see something that’s not quite right, their eyes give us a big advantage,” said Staff Sergeant Art Hopkins of the Drumheller RCMP.
    Criminals naturally will strike at the most opportune time, when no one is around. Patrols made by the aforementioned organizations remove these opportunities and help create safe communities.
    “Exactly how many crimes they have prevented, I can’t say,” said Hopkins. “But, they have definitely prevented crime.
    “They have done amazing things over the years,” continued Hopkins. “They supply us with pieces of the puzzle we wouldn’t otherwise have.”
    Unfortunately the number of volunteers in the two organizations has steadily been decreasing. The need is great for new volunteers to help reduce crime in the area.
    If interested, please contact the Drumheller RCMP at 403-823-7590.


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