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Did You Play With Mercury In Grade School?

I finally figured out what happened to me in grade school.  It was the mercury, in the broken thermometers, that we played with.

Remember those little silver balls that would roll around, break apart and come back together.  Roll them from hand to hand.  Everybody thought it was pretty cool stuff back then.  Did the teacher give it to us or did we break the thermometers on our own.  Heck, I don't remember.  I just remember how cool it was to play with the little balls of mercury.

While surfing around today, I ran into this article about a lady who had chosen to seal off her daughter's bedroom while she tries to come up with the $2000.00 an environmental company wants to charge her for cleaning up the remnants of a Compact Fluorescent Lamp (CFL)  that broke in the room.

Though the Maine Department of Environmental Protection and Snopes.com (Urban Legend Reference Website)  now say that was a serious over reaction and overkill.

I didn't even know that CFLs contained mercury.  Now, I find we need to recycle them as hazardous waste.  Are CFLs worth all the hassle.  It seems we don't have a choice.  Congress passed an energy bill, on December 18th, 2007, that calls for regular tungsten filament light bulbs to be banned by the year 2014.

I hope that Georgetown, Kentucky soon develops a hazardous waste recylcing center for the bulbs as this ole Home Inspector has already changed all the bulbs in the house to CFLs and those few that stopped working have been put in the regular trash.

And if you didn't click on the links above to see how to clean one up when it breaks, here's a short summary of

What the Environmental Protection Agency says you should do when a Compact Fluorescent Lamp (CFL) breaks:

The following steps can be performed by the general public:

1. Open a window and leave the room for 15 minutes or more.

2. Carefully scoop up the fragments and powder with stiff paper or cardboard and place them in a sealed plastic bag.

  • Use disposable rubber gloves, if available (i.e., do not use bare hands). Wipe the area clean with damp paper towels or disposable wet wipes and place them in the plastic bag.
  • Do not use a vacuum or broom to clean up the broken bulb on hard surfaces.

3. Place all cleanup materials in a second sealed plastic bag.

  • Place the first bag in a second sealed plastic bag and put it in the outdoor trash container or in another outdoor protected area for the next normal trash disposal.
  • Note: some states prohibit such trash disposal and require that broken and unbroken lamps be taken to a local recycling center.
  • Wash your hands after disposing of the bag.

4. If a fluorescent bulb breaks on a rug or carpet:

  • First, remove all materials you can without using a vacuum cleaner, following the steps above. Sticky tape (such as duct tape) can be used to pick up small pieces and powder.
  • If vacuuming is needed after all visible materials are removed, vacuum the area where the bulb was broken, remove the vacuum bag (or empty and wipe the canister) and put the bag or vacuum debris in two sealed plastic bags in the outdoor trash or protected outdoor location for normal disposal.

Dang, I guess popping those long fluorescent bulbs in the trash can is a no-no too now!  Guess I should have popped them and ran from the dust cloud it created.  But no, I'd just fling another one.  Oh well, I've survived this long.  Guess I'll go a few more years!