But, really? That's not the point of this story.
During the process of figuring out our bathroom light was (is?) finito, I left a basket of extra bulbs on the dryer in the laundry room. About 10 minutes later Mark officially declared the bathroom light dead and mentioned that the extra bulbs had fallen off the dryer because it was running and the basket bounced right off the edge - gosh, good thinking, Susan - leaving broken glass all over the laundry room floor. I was thrilled both with my forward thinking and also the realization that I was probably going to have to clean up that mess since I had basically made it.
When I walked into the laundry room I saw that, miraculously, a whole bunch of bulbs had NOT broken, but what had shattered was one, giant compact fluorescent floodlight. You know, those bulbs that are supposed to be recycled, not just thrown in the trash, because they're full of MERCURY.
Mark stayed completely calm as I learned, via the wonders of the World Wide Web, that while the EPA doesn't recommend you call in a Haz-Mat team, they'll scare you right to the edge of doing just that. (EPA RECOMMENDATIONS) You can find conflicting reports on how dangerous this smashed up mercury tube really is, but the bottom line is that you're not cleaning up your run-of-the-mill broken pickle jar here.
The boys were really good while we
We were eventually left with a sparkling clean laundry room floor, a whole pile of laundry, a bag and sealed jar of contaminated glass and duct tape and a lot of apprehension. Did we overreact!? Did we underreact?! Who left us home alone?!
I talked to a Hazardous Waste Expert at the city today (Hi, Tamra!) about what to do with the bag of glass and cleaning supplies that we've got sealed up sitting outside our garage. Tamra said we done good and she gave me permission to stop worrying. She assured me that the amount of mercury (dust, vapor?) in the bulb is neglibile and that the EPA suggestions are designed to move you into overreaction.
If you're still with me, I'll leave you with these thoughts...I know that these bulbs save energy and are environmentally-friendly and we're all being urged to use them in our homes. BUT, let my stupidity be a reminder. As educational as this was,you might want to consider carefully where in your house you use CFLs and remember to handle them with caution. I would also maybe ditch the mercury thermometers while you're at it. That clean up sounds even more fun.
p.s. Any brilliant suggestions about our bathroom light? It's dark in there.