Compact Florescent Bulb shattered right in front of me ... - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 12 Old 06-30-2008, 06:17 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Hi Ladies. Last night, I went to visit my sister in law. Anyways, she uses those Energy Efficient Light bulbs that contain MERCURY!! I am busy with my two other little ones when I go to get something ... The next thing you know my 2 year old finds a light bulb sitting on the counter & he throws it like a baseball at me. It shatters right at my feet. I immediately take him out of the room & start packing up our stuff because I wanted to get out of there. I wasn't sure what to do but I knew those bulbs were really hazardous. So now I read on the computer the amount of mercury in those bulbs & I am so upset... I can't stop worrying that I exposed my unborn baby to mercury poisioning. I left the room & didn't clean any of it up but my SIL cleaned up the bulb with a vaccuum which they say spreads the mercury powder in the air. If anyone has any advice for me, I would truly appreciate it. I can't sleep, I can't do anything but think about this awful event.
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#2 of 12 Old 06-30-2008, 10:41 AM
 
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I wouldn't worry too much. When CFL's shatter like that, most of the mercury sticks to the glass and is not floating in vapors on the air. There isn't really a ton of mercury in them, anyway (the amount in them would only cover the tip of a ballpoint pen). Those old thermometers contained as much mercury as 125 of these bulbs!

It is kind of a drag that she vacuumed it up - you're supposed to use a damp cloth to wipe up any residue. And if you open a window all is fine within about 15 minutes.

Try not to stress out too much - it's really not that horrible. I work for an electrical construction contractor and we install/handle CFL's all the time.


Molly, mama to my 3 sweet boys.
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#3 of 12 Old 06-30-2008, 12:21 PM
 
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Something similar happened to me when I was pregnant with DD. My husband had the flu, and I dropped the mercury thermometer. I had enough sense to leave the room, but I brought him the vacuum cleaner to clean it up. I called poison control and explained that I was pregnant and all that we did. The guy calmly told me that the vacuum is the worst possible way to clean up mercury, but there was nothing we could do now and not to worry because the amount of mercury I was exposed to was very low. I didn't eat any fish for a while to compensate.

I'm sure it is all fine, but you could call poison control just to see if they recommend anything. It made me feel better.

Amanda, momma to Caroline (5/31/05) and Mary Elizabeth (1/8/09)
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#4 of 12 Old 06-30-2008, 12:28 PM
 
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Not in your DDC, but I broke a compact fluorescent bulb while pregnant. I was really mad about it. Here I am, trying to do everything right in my pregnancy, not eating tuna because of the mercury, not vaxing because of mercury and this stupid CF bulb breaks. I blamed Oprah Winfrey because I watched her show and some skinny little environmental chick made me believe that I was really going to save the damn environment by switching out all my old bulbs with the CF's, so that's what I did. I felt really smug about it for a while. Until I broke one. And freaked out.

I went to the GE website and followed the directions about cleaning up. Yeah, they say that the amount of mercury in each bulb is so tiny you shouldn't worry about it. BUT that's what the vaccine manufacturers want us to believe, too.

So, I went around the house cussing out poor Oprah and removed all the stupid CF bulbs from all the light sockets and replaced them with the good, old fashioned energy sucking kind. And I feel really smug about it! At least I won't freak out the next time I break a stupid light bulb.
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#5 of 12 Old 06-30-2008, 02:05 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by diamond lil View Post
Yeah, they say that the amount of mercury in each bulb is so tiny you shouldn't worry about it. BUT that's what the vaccine manufacturers want us to believe, too.
Vaccine mercury adds up with each shot. Unless you're breaking bulbs left and right, it's really not comparable. And the mercury is hardly the worst thing about vaccines.

I really appreciate this thread. None of mine have broken yet, but it's good to know how I'm supposed to clean them and all that!

Talkative, AP SAHMama to my bright and spirited girls Lilly 10-15-06, Naomi 1-1-09 vbac.gif and Katarina 11-16-11 vbac.gif

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#6 of 12 Old 06-30-2008, 03:00 PM
 
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Originally Posted by xakana View Post
Vaccine mercury adds up with each shot. Unless you're breaking bulbs left and right, it's really not comparable. And the mercury is hardly the worst thing about vaccines.

I really appreciate this thread. None of mine have broken yet, but it's good to know how I'm supposed to clean them and all that!
Exactly. I'm much more worried about aluminum and human and animal DNA in vaccines than trace amounts of thimerosal.

CFL's are better for the environment and they contribute less mercury to the environment over the long haul than do conventional bulbs. Conventional lightbulb manufacturing introduces a lot of mercury into our air and water.

There does need to be a lot more education about proper disposal and cleanup, though. It's obviously lacking.

Molly, mama to my 3 sweet boys.
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#7 of 12 Old 06-30-2008, 03:51 PM
 
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Mercury in CFLs is elemental mercury. That means it's in a very stable form and is actually very poorly absorbed orally. People used to take it as a medicine for syphilis during the Civil War and it pretty much just passes through the digestive tract. That's how they find Civil War campsites nowadays - they look for what are basically buried latrines because that's where they find larger amounts of mercury than in the surrounding area.

ETA: Forgot to add here that mercury does vaporize and that's the biggest danger with broken CFLs and that's why you're supposed to air out the area before doing anything else.

Anyways, mercury in CFLs isn't the same as thimerosal. That's an organic compound and is much more easily absorbed. You can read more about elemental mercury here. Note that the mercury in fish isn't elemental either.

Here are some relevant articles I found while googling:
http://www.treehugger.com/files/2007...ehugger_14.php
http://www.snopes.com/medical/toxins/cfl.asp
useful document from energy star people
http://www.energystar.gov/ia/partner...et_Mercury.pdf
http://www.epa.gov/mercury/spills/index.htm (EPA page, always useful)
http://www.thegreenguide.com/doc/ask/cflmercury

enjoy reading, find your calm. there are so many things out there to worry about, this one should be low on your list.

I'll do some more reading in the next few days and if I come up with anything new, I'll share.
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#8 of 12 Old 06-30-2008, 04:55 PM
 
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Please try not to worry about breaking one light bulb. you have not poisoned your baby or done them irreparable harm. You left the room immediately and stayed clear. Very sensible. I remember breaking a giant mercury lab thermometer in high school. They called haz-mat to clean it up and we all left the classroom because balls of mercury were rolling everywhere and they didn't want it to get on our shoes and spread throughout the school. My mother remembers PLAYING with balls of mercury in high school science class. Yes playing with. As in rolling them around in their hands to observe the surface tension. Mercury was known to be hazardous then, but put it in perspective: they only did it once, for a brief time, minimal exposure, no lasting or harmful effects. We are a lot more paranoid about stuff like that now I guess.

Mama to 4 darlings. A ('03), O and K ('06), A ('09), and wife to M since 2002.
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#9 of 12 Old 06-30-2008, 05:22 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks. I feel so much better!! Information is definately lacking on this subject. I find it so hard to know what products to buy, what to believe, etc... The other day I went to the health food store & the woman was so pushy with me trying to sell me a certain product. I really had to put her in her place which I don't like but I explained to her that it is really difficult to know who to trust when the FDA & Goverment don't protect you! I always feel better after I read up on the computer & come to this forum to gather information. You mamas are always so helpful!!
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#10 of 12 Old 06-30-2008, 10:33 PM
 
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This brought back a crazy memory from my last pregnancy...that i managed to bury away in my brain until now.

I was going down to the computer lab at school (I'm a prof) to pick up a test that I'd printed out. There was caution tape on the door, but I didn't think much of it and just pushed it aside and started walking down the hall. All the computer techs started yelling at me to get out of there. The mainframe computer (the size of a small room) had just exploded -- literally. They were awaiting clean up crew and haz-mat people to assess the damage. I was pretty freaked out because I was definitely right there next to the room where it exploded (door open and everything). It stunk too.

But baby boy seems fine two years later...so perhaps no harm done, right. Except perhaps to *my* memory, since I forgot that ever happened until now!!
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#11 of 12 Old 06-30-2008, 10:37 PM
 
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I personally like CFL's and regular flourescent fixtures as well. You will see many box stores going back to flourescent fixtures over the high bay lighting because they provide more lighting, better color rendering properties, and cost less to operate.

My only gripe about CFL's is that there all made in China.
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#12 of 12 Old 07-01-2008, 07:20 AM - Thread Starter
 
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It seems that almost everything is made in China. Thanks for sharing your stories Diamond Lil & Ainh. I laughed outloud at Diamond Lil's story about oprah!! Not sure she really covers the entire story. Sometimes I really can't stand Oprah. It's hard to take advice from somebody that tells you how to raise children & stay happily married when she's never done either of those things.
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