Tuesday, January 26, 2010

I'm doomed as doomed can be!

This is Snuffy the cat. He likes to perch on my desk while I'm on my computer. Also on my desk is a green banker's lamp with a CFL bulb in it. Snuffy, alpha male that he is, rubbed his face on the lamp and knocked it to the floor. The green glass shade is intact but the CFL bulb broke scattering mercury on the carpet.

This is no small matter! I would rather the lamp had broken. I had heard that broken CFL's required special cleanup so I closed the door and went on my housemate's computer in her room. The instructions were: wear a face mask so you don't inhale the mercury, take a glass jar with a metal lid to hold all the fragments, do not sweep or vacuum because that raises the mercury dust into the air, pick up as much dust as you can with duct tape, use damp paper towels for other cleanup, turn off heat or AC to the room and open a window, close off room for 8 hours... Other sites offered harsher restrictions.

As I sit here at my computer today, I feel like everything I touch is contaminated. I followed all the instructions but when I googled the effects of mercury on the human body, it was really scary. Most sites are vague about the what the harmful effects would be from exposure to a single broken light bulb stating it depends on amount you inhaled or absorbed through skin, your age (old is good), other health problems, etc.

Here is a partial list of possible symptoms: tremors, nervousness, moodiness, irritability, headaches, muscle atrophy, insomnia and the list goes on to mention kidney failure, respiratory failure and death.

It makes you doubly concerned for children who might accidentally break a bulb and fearfully clean it up without any awareness of the danger. Even unbroken CFL's must be disposed of as hazardous waste! So now, after all the years spent cleaning up lead in paints and asbestos in schools, we introduce this frightening new hazard?

Paraphrasing Ed Grimley (Martin Short's alter ego) "We are doomed as doomed can be, I must say!"


Kittie Howard said...

Just to be on the safe side, can you call your doc?

^..^Corgidogmama said...

Call the poison control center, it's usually an 800 number. This is serious!
We don't want anything to happen to you....and just where the heck are you going to sleep tonight????

Kathy said...

I read that info once and that's when I decided I didn't want any of them no matter how great they are.

I would call someone and make sure that you did all you can do. That's very scary.

Blissed-Out Grandma said...

I can't believe how difficult the cleanup is...and this is supposed to be the Better Way? Given that you followed all the instructions, I hope you're able to get past the feeling of being contaminated. Love your Ed Grimley quote, I must say.

Olde Dame Penniwig said...

Ms. Sparrow, don't worry yourself too much. You did well in your cleanup. I played with mercury constantly in my ex's lab (maybe that explains things) -- inhalation is a problem, but it is very unlikely to cause you difficulties since you cleaned it up so well.

I don't like those bulbs for a different reason than the mercury -- the bulbs get so very hot!!!

Ms. Sparrow, I'm going to post a "plain" version of the dorky cats on my bloggie -- I got a lot of emails asking for it plain.

Pearl said...

Ack! What a crazy amount of clean-up for a household item!!


Kittie Howard said...

Ms. Sparrow, how are you doing???

Carmella said...

I just don't understand why, if mercury thermometers were such a hazard, there is now a huge push to put mercury in every room. The amount of mercury in a thermometer is miniscule. And the likelihood of someone dropping it is small.

Lightbulbs are disposable even when they don't break. But we are supposed to have hazardous waster products in every light socket? Humph!

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