Page 1 of 3 123 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 25

Thread: Universal Waste? and what to do with it

Hybrid View

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Bangor, Maine
    Posts
    753

    Exclamation Universal Waste? and what to do with it

    Thanks for the idea Hollora, here's a bit focusing on one type of waste.
    Feel free to post your own findings/information/questions/etc.

    Knowing which waste is which, In Our Back Yard

    What's the Difference Between Hazardous Wastes and Universal Wastes?
    You have probably heard the term "hazardous waste". Most people know this as the type of waste they definitely do NOT want to be around, the type of waste that is dangerous to handle without proper safety equipment (like safety glasses and chemical resistant gloves) and dangerous to store without taking special precautions in the storage area. Hazardous wastes have been regulated and managed for years, but now there is a term just as common as the term hazardous waste. This classification of waste is called "universal waste".

    What is Universal Waste?
    Universal wastes are CRTs - cathode ray tubes (computer monitors, TVs), fluorescent light bulbs, also called fluorescent lamps, mercury-containing thermostats, certain batteries, lighting ballasts (transformers) that contain polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), mercury devices, such as mercury thermometers, mercury containing barometers, mercury containing switches from appliances (sump pumps, for example), and motor vehicle mercury switches.

    It may surprise you to learn that universal wastes are hazardous. They are just one of several types of hazardous waste. Although you use the items listed above without any special, protective equipment, and it is perfectly safe to handle thermometers and fluorescent lamps that are not broken, all these items contain hazardous chemicals that can harm human health and the environment. These items, when not disposed of properly, can pollute the environment the same way the traditional, famous, "icky" hazardous wastes, like those containing dioxin and arsenic, can.

    Universal wastes are different from regular hazardous wastes because they are, as the name implies, universal. They are everywhere! Until recently, many viewed these products as items that could be thrown in the trash. Recent research has shown that this is not a good idea, especially when it comes to mercury.

    What Harm Can Universal Wastes Do?
    The most common hazardous chemical contained in universal wastes is mercury. Mercury is a neurotoxin. It slows fetal and child development and impairs brain function. High exposure can cause tremors, numbness of fingers and toes, loss of muscle control, memory loss, and kidney disease. Mercury enters the human body primarily by eating fish. Recent studies of fish and loons (which eat fish) in Maine have shown mercury to be much more widespread and at higher levels of concentration than previously thought. So, lots of work must be done to reduce the levels of mercury in Maine's environment.

    What Can You Do?
    The most important thing you can do to keep the hazardous chemicals inside the universal waste is to remove fluorescent lamps, thermometers, thermostats, etc. from your household trash. Keep them separate and take them to a place that accepts and separates universal wastes from regular trash. Many towns are doing this now. Contact your town office to see if your town is separating universal waste. You can contact the Maine Department of Environmental Protection at 287-2651 or visit www.maineDEP.com for more information.

    This column was submitted by Peter Moulton, an environmental engineer with the Maine Department of Environmental Protectionís (DEP) Bureau of Remediation and Waste Management. In Our Back Yard is a weekly column of the DEP. E-mail your questions to infoDEP@maine.gov or send them to In Our Back Yard, Maine DEP, 17 State House Station, Augusta, ME 04333.
    "Given a chance, a child will bring the confusion of the world to the woods, wash it in the creek, turn it over to see what lives on the unseen side of that confusion." --Richard Louv, Last Child in the Woods

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    abbot me
    Posts
    754

    Default

    The honey bee is fast becoming extinct, bats are dropping by the thousands, our birds are full of toxins and now the drinking water is full of pharmaceuticals. When will we ever learn....you are on the right track kid.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    Bangor, ME
    Posts
    6,059

    Question

    Not to be picky, but despite this subject (and the CFL one) being about safety and health, shouldn't it be in the off topic forums, since this forum should be for geocaching health and safety?

    If somebody hides an ammo box cache with a CFL light inside along with hazardous waste trade items, I'll retract my statement.
    DNFTT! DNFTT! DNFTT!

    "The funniest thing about this particular signature is that by the time you realize it doesn't say anything it's to late to stop reading it..."

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    ME
    Posts
    3,517

    Default

    Actually, I think it does have merit here. Walking through the woods, I have seen tons of waste which is questionable. If we are to truly practice CITO, we should be educated in what is ok to handle and/or how to handle items.

    Another concern is working an organized CITO Geocaching event - i.e. the Brewer River Clean Up - we have encountered every bit of junk imaginable as well as some real questionable things. We should be educated to stay safe during these events.

    Last year we even encountered Gold Fish living in a pool with the potential to seriously effect our ecological balance if the pool were released. Our Team Leader was to report this it IF&W.

    Thank you Steph - for your efforts here. Move it to off topic, if needed, I will still be reading this information as standards do change on occasion.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    Augusta, Maine
    Posts
    815

    Default Geocaching Awareness

    tat and I were just commenting about this last night. I have seen people become more environmentally aware because they are geocachers. I use to get annoyed at some of the caches three to four years ago because I thought they were hard on the environment. I even wrote a couple of letters to cache owners. You don't see those types of caches out there any more. The publishers are keeping an eye open for our environment and I think cachers are much more aware of what they are doing. This is a young sport/recreational activity and we can grow and be educational.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Bangor, ME
    Posts
    3,961

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by hollora View Post

    Last year we even encountered Gold Fish living in a pool with the potential to seriously effect our ecological balance if the pool were released. Our Team Leader was to report this it IF&W.
    that is kinda wierd, you don't really think of a goldfish as being threatning to the evniroment, but theyre just tiny carp that dont grow big because they live in fish bowls. put them in a lake and they turn into big carp that tear up everything in sight. Theres a few lakes in ohio where the carp are so thick it looks like moving mud, and theres nothing else that can survive in the lakes.
    Once the game is over, the king and the pawn go back in the same box.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    ME
    Posts
    3,517

    Default

    Exactly - and all the other stuff that get's thrown out. Most people just think - well, it's trash or this doesn't hurt. I, for one, welcome all education to help. Personally, I believe this is in line but again - if others say no - just keep it coming in another thread.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Bangor, Maine
    Posts
    753

    Question moving thread

    I dunno how to move a thread, although brdad I had the same thought, where should these topics go? So I don't really care, I just thought if I was going to categorize it, it'd be here.

    Great thoughts everyone. It's surprising how really cool things can end up being really bad waste...makes you think about the stuff you own, where it came from (waste generated in its creation) and where it'll end up...
    "Given a chance, a child will bring the confusion of the world to the woods, wash it in the creek, turn it over to see what lives on the unseen side of that confusion." --Richard Louv, Last Child in the Woods

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    ME
    Posts
    3,517

    Default

    Whew - you are right Medawisla - I remember when: we used to fix a toaster not throw it out and buy a new one; rewire the old lamp not throw it out; take the radio or TV to the fix it shop for repair and new tubes not buy a new one; order or buy a new gasket for the pressure cooker not buy a new one or cook food in the microwave; put a little plastic hoodie with elastic on the edge over the leftover food in a dish and wash it out after rather than use plastic wrap; can fruits and vegetables from the garden; mend a tear or hole in your "not so good" clothes rather than buy new ~ ah yes, times have certainly changed.

    Any cachers out there where any of this sounds familiar? I know there are a few of you........

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    abbot me
    Posts
    754

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •