Environmental Factor, May 2006, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
Earth Day 2006
Among the displays for Earth Day at NIEHS, NC Green Power set up a solar-powered fan as an example of a renewable energy source available in North Carolina. According to a brochure by NC Electric Power, power company customers in North Carolina can add $4 to their monthly electric bills that will be used to offset the emission of carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide by reducing the amount of coal required to provide power in the state.
Other booths touted the benefits of ride-sharing to get to work or promoted ecological activities and wildlife protection. At the recycling booth, information was available on how to recycle common items at NIEHS, such as paper, plastic, cardboard, cans, glass and the more exotic recyclables such as toner cartridges, lab ware, pipettes and polystyrene. It was standing-room only for most of the afternoon at the ever-popular plant exchange.
Another booth provided information about bluebird houses. NIEHS has 45 houses installed across campus to encourage bluebirds to nest. The program started in 1973 when employee Grant McNichols installed the first bluebird box. Jerry Phelps and his daughter, Emily, took over the program 13 years ago, when Emily was just 2 years old. They came to NIEHS on weekends every spring and fall, cleaning old nests from the boxes and making repairs as needed. Phelps also added plastic reinforcements to doorways of the birdhouses to provide better protection for the nests and houses. Now, the Phelps have turned over bluebird house maintenance duties to Susanna Clark, who has helped with the tasks for a number of years.