Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Our Mercury Light Bulb Ordeal

Monday night Little Miss broke one of those new light bulbs the gov't mandated this year.  

You know, the spirally ones that are so 'green'?  

The ones that contain enough mercury to contaminate 6,000 gallons of water? 

The ones where when you break them the mercury vapor comes pouring out and if you come in contact with the broken bulb you can't simply wash the clothes because it will contaminate your washer but instead you must THROW AWAY your clothes?  

The ones where you have to evacuate everyone( especially children and pregnant women and also pets) from the area right away and air out the room for 15 minutes before even attempting to clean up the broken bulb?

The ones where you have to also shut off your A/C or furnace so it doesn't blow the toxic mercury vapor throughout your house?

The ones were no one is suppose to go in the area for several days after the clean up of the broken bulb?

The ones where you can't vacuum or sweep up the the broken bulb because it sends that mercury powder/vapor in the air?

The ones where you are suppose to throw the rug away if a bulb breaks on it or CUT OUT the part of your carpet where it landed and broke?

The ones that require gloves to remove a broken bulb and then it isn't enough to put it in a plastic bag, but you need to put it into a glass container with a lid and totally remove it from your house?

Wow, I am so glad we have these new earth friendly bulbs right??

So after breaking the bulb, Little Miss and Princess decide to be very helpful and clean it up.  Lovely.

Thankfully, I was not on the same level of the house that this broken bulb occurred on. So the unborn baby was/is fairly safe.  

But we did have to take Little Miss and Princess to be tested for mercury poisoning(via a blood test). We will know the results  in a day or two.

When I called the Dr, the nurse was shocked at what all you had to do when a CFL(Compact Fluorescent Light) bulb broke.  I told her that I shared her disbelief.

I have come across some articles that say there is more mercury in a can of tuna.  But all I know is that when tuna juice squirts on my shirt I don't have to throw it in the trash or evacuate the room for several days, ya know?

I suspect it's the mercury POWDER/VAPOR in the new light bulbs that is the real bad guy (compared to liquid mercury in old thermometers).  Mercury Vapor/Powder is very easily inhaled and quickly absorbed into your body and brain.

So needless to say, I am throwing everyone of these wonderful new bulbs and getting the old school black market bulbs that might cost a bit more in electricity but doesn't put the health of my family at risk.  Not to mention the money it would cost a person to go to the Dr.'s and get blood tests. You can also get halogens which have no mercury in them.

Here are some sources of info about clean up of bulbs and issues with the mercury in them:

  • B Barnes says:
The scenario I would like to have input with regards to is as follows:
The cfl bulb is in a fixture which refines a person to climb a ladder and reach over his or her head to change the bulb. while doing so the bulb breaks causing the powder in the bulb to shower down in the face of the person changing the bulb. It gets in the person’s open eyes, open mouth and is breathed into the person’s lungs. Thus the exposure is a) absorption into the system via direct contact with the eyes, b) ingestion by mouth, c) absorption via lungs both at initial breath as the powder was in the air while the person looked upwards toward the light fixture as the bulb broke and subsequent breaths as the powder is on the person’s skin of the face, lips, hair, hands, arms, clothing and d) absorption through the skin of the person’s face, neck, hands and arms.
What level of exposure could a person receive in this scenario?
I experienced this specific scenario and had a number of symptoms that followed. Bad taste in my mouth like I was constantly sucking on pennies. An intense wave of nausea about to minutes after the exposure that lessened only slightly but never went away for days for which I ultimately required prescription nausea medicine, A nearly immediate loss of motility lasting 4-6 weeks. The only way I could eliminate stool was by ingesting the OTC liquid used to cleanse in preparation for a colonoscopy plus miralax plus a prescription medication for constipation plus high fiber content foods plus a fiber supplement AND regular use of FIeet’s anemas.
Eventually the bad taste went away and normal motility returned. I continue to have waves of intense nausea or more mild nausea that lasts for several days.
The exposure happened on Feb 13 and today is May 18.

The issue too is that often mercury poisoning doesn't show symptoms for days or weeks and most of them can be hard for a child to communicate to you.  Our pediatrician reconfirmed this with me today.  

I hope this has shed some light on what you need to do if one of these new, wonderful light bulbs breaks.  We had broken several rules right off the bat before I thought to ask my husband what kind of light bulb it was.  

Never a dull moment...

Many Blessings,
The Mama

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