Nov 7, 2011

Is Apple playing games with its environmental certifications?

Apple claims on its website that it is RoHS (pronounced "rose") compliant.

RoHS is a fairly straightforward European environmental regulation and, generally, mandates limits on the amount of certain toxic substances  (lead, mercury, cadmium, and certain flame retardants) used in many electronics products.

Generally, the maximum permitted concentrations are 0.1% or 1000 ppm (except for Cadmium, which has an even more severe limit).

So, 0.1% is the limit. 

Now here's what's interesting.  There is a separate environmental law in China, referred to as "China RoHS", which currently mandates that if a manufacturer is above the 0.1% limit, they have to make a disclosure in the product's manual (it currently only mandates disclosure, not the actual elimination of the toxic substance).

Which brings me to this disclosure hidden in the back of the current iPAD 2 docking station user manual:

To translate, this document says that the circuit board and the "enclosure" (whatever that means) have lead concentrations higher than 0.1% (denoted by the "x").

In addition, the "10" with a circle on the bottom is mandated by China's law to describe how long the manufacturer believes that the product will not degrade or leach the toxic substance (the number 10 means 10 years).

Which brings us to the perplexing question:  Why is Apple saying they are RoHS compliant, when in fact, they are separately disclosing that they aren't?

It appears that Apple is playing games.

Aug 15, 2011

Gatwick Airport: The road is littered with good intentions

Leaking batteries cause issues for workers and the environment

On a recent trip to London, we noticed something odd at the North Terminal at Gatwick Airport: Very large rust-colored stains near large electrical recharging stations.

This struck us as interesting, as these type of stains are not actually rust, they are usually stains from battery acid leaks.  We've seen a lot, but we were astonished at the sheer quantity of  leakage, which has immediate environmental and health consequences, both to local water and soil quality, as well as workers at Gatwick.   It's possible that the charging stations have banks of lead-acid batteries, and hence are leaking at an unacceptable rate.

To explain, battery acid is sulfuric acid and is used in lead-acid batteries.  Since the lead plates are immersed in acid, the acid itself becomes highly concentrated with lead.  Typically, when batteries are recycled, the lead content is so significant that the acid is first leached through a contained soil mixture, encased in concrete and sent to a landfill.  It's certainly not something to casually allow to spill.

Curious, we did a bit of research and found that several years ago, Gatwick had initiated a highly laudable program to improve air quality, and one of the initiatives was to replace all gas vehicles at the North Terminal (not the South Terminal) with electric vehicles. Unfortunately for British Airways, it appears that the charging stations were all put right there in the BA area.

(Most modern electric vehicles of the type used in an industrial capacity use lead-acid batteries, as they are far cheaper than the NiCad or Lithium Ion batteries used on modern electric cars).

Unfortunately, one has to assiduously manage large-scale implementations of electric vehicles so that a) the vehicles don't leak battery acid (which they commonly do, unless one is using one of the more modern sealed types), and b) that banks of batteries don't leak acid as well.

We also noticed numerous other battery stains, throughout the tarmac and in various parking areas, indicating that the electric vehicles are also leaking.  

London Gatwick Airport has a problem, and they need it clean this up.  If the charging stations are leaking, they need to be cleaned up and sealed; and the batteries in the vehicles must be sealed, replaced or replaced with modern sealed AGM type batteries.

To wit, this is something even clearly perceivable from satellite:  Google Maps.

We'd prefer the use of gas or diesel if this is what you get instead.

Pasco eco-fest coming up...

This looks cool. November 19-20 will be the Pasco Eco-Fest, at the Jay B. Starkey wilderness park in New Port Richey. More here.

Jun 24, 2011

Supporters come out for clean water in Tampa

60 supporters showed up at a Tampa City Council meeting to push for an ordinance banning the purchase and use of nitrogen fertilizer during our rainy season...and the vote passed! Tampa now joins Pinellas County (where we are) in doing the same.

This is a great day for water quality in the Tampa Bay!

May 24, 2011

Manatee County passes fertilizer ordinance

This is great news. Manatee County is now the 36th local government banning the use of fertilizers during the rainy season. City of Tampa, Charlotte and Collier County in the process of debating similar bills. Show your support.

Mar 23, 2011

Water Quality Fight Update

From the Sierra Club:
March 23, 2011: HB 457, a bill that would preempt and gut fertilizer regulation ordinances adopted by 40 local governments throughout Florida, passed this morning in the House Community and Military Affairs Subcommittee by one vote. The 8 to 7 vote count is below (all democrats and two republicans voted no).

Feb 8, 2011

Congressman Rooney rider to the Fiscal Year 2011 Continuing Resolution

The Congressman Rooney rider to the Fiscal Year 2011 Continuing Resolution, which stops the EPA from implementing new freshwater water quality standards, was adopted by the House of Representatives. U.S.House budget vote threatens Florida Clean Water Rule

Now the fight goes to the senate...

Jan 15, 2011

If you're in Cedar Key, remember John Muir

One my favorite naturalists, John Muir, spent time here in Florida -- actually, several months in 1867. He arrived at Cedar Key in October, seven weeks after setting out from Indiana on a "thousand-mile walk to the Gulf."

If you're in Cedar Key, you can go by John Muir historical marker. More here.