Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Part Two: Light of My Life

For the most part, I'm a little annoyed that the American Parenting Trend has absorbed the culture of American Politics: Be Afraid! Be Very Afraid! With my first kid, Rainbow Girl, I bought into a lot of it. Now that I've incubated three humans, I've loosened up a little. Don't get me wrong, I still support seat belts and supervision, but I'm not going to force my finger down my kids throat if they eat dairy products at six months of age.

So considering the fact that China got on our hotlist when they made toxic toys for children, I was surprised that a certain environmental trend slipped quietly past the hyper-sensitive parent radar screen. Keep in mind that this environmental trend is loved and supported by Mrs. Olsen. Okay....well....like Mrs. Olsen taking her three-year-old to run errands and accidentally walking past the toy aisle and then watching said three-year-old turn into a Gremlin when he can't get Thomas the Tank Engine. I love you my little children (Vanilla Wafer and Fads that save energy and carbon emissions), you've got a lot of love but there has to be a better way.

So while Mrs. Olsen has learned to roll her eyes at well-meaning helicopter moms the world over, there is one thing that definitely hits her mommy radar: mercury.

Consider this: the phrase Mad as a Hatter has origins. "Back in the day" hat makers cured felt with with mercury, and over time, this lethal stuff made them....different. In the head. *sirens* Cuckoo! Cuckoo!

So before this image of Mrs. Olsen's own Vanilla Wafer turns from cute-kid-in-awe at meeting his first professional photographer into....Hello? Anybody Home?

Let's just take a moment and educate ourselves shall we?

Mrs. Olsen proudly presents Rainbow Girl in....

State of Conflict: Saving the Earth One
Brain Cell at a Time

My Groovey Lamp has Energy Saving Bulbs. Yippeee!

Somewhere on the packaging for these is this little blip: "Contains Mercury. Manage according to disposal laws"

Disposal laws? What the heck does that mean?

....Just keep reading and find out.

Awww, shucks. My bulb broke on my carpet!

No worries! Just follow these simple clean-up tips as directed by the invisible disposal laws.

1. Open window to ventilate room

2. Get all pets and loved ones OUT of the room

3. Oh, and make sure you turn OFF the heating or ventilation systems. Just a precaution. You don't want to be circulating this stuff.

4. Keep all living things OUT of the room for at least 15 minutes.

5. Okay, pick up all fragments of the light and place in a glass jar with a metal lid. Go ahead and throw the rag you picked it up with in there as well.

6. If the powder is present, that' a whole other set of problems. Try to pick up as much as you can with some heavy duty tape. You'll want to throw the tape into your glass jar as well.

If you get any powder on your clothing, throw that clothing away. DO NOT WASH in your washing machine, as it will leave permanent contaminents.

7. Now vacuum any remnants you couldn't pick up.

8. You need to also remove the vacuum bag

9. Seal up the vacuum bag in a closed plastic bag. DO NOT put into your household garbage, place in outside receptacle.

10. Try to act like this is normal. Debate your idiotic common sense that tells you that you have a toxic waste situation here.

11. Forget about the fact that this brain-poisoning mercury has an iron-clad protection of very thin and breakable glass.

By the way, these are actual clean-up tips from EnergyStar.gov. I am not exaggerating here, okay (except steps 10 and 11)? What Rainbow Girl did NOT demonstrate was

  • how to dispose of burned out light-bulbs
  • how to clean up a broken bulb on hard floor surfaces

So check those out as well if you have time. Please.

So before you Helicopter Moms revert your good intentions to save energy and carbon emissions through compact fluorescent light bulbs, please consider that Mrs. Olsen thinks it might be worth the risk. Maybe worth the risk in general, but may not be worth the risk of those with young children with developing brains. Just make sure that you don't put these bulbs in a lamp that a little one can knock over. Just don't ever break one of these guys! Please recycle when possible! Double bag your burned out bulbs before placing them in your outside garbage bins. Also, peruse these other resources:

  • Independent consumer study that studied toxic levels for infants living closer to the ground. Their safe cleaning recommendations for a broken bulb on carpet? Cut the contaminated section OUT and throw it away. Scroll down to Broken Bulb Dreams from this link.
  • NPR coverage of CFLs "Hitch"

Over and out!


paula said...

Now I find myself in a predicament.....We use a lot of those bulbs. I'll have to tell Jay D how lethal they are if broken...I never change light bulbs. Makes me want to just use normal bulbs....

Anonymous said...

love the way you write and appreciate the helpful tip. my friend just informed me of this but not in such a descriptive way...it's so fun to read your blog.

Tami said...

I had to laugh because Jeff broke a light bulb when we were finishing our basement and my parents were up to help. Keith told him a story about a lady breaking a similar light bulb and got help to clean it up....$15,000 later she was back in her house after the "toxic spill"!

Jenny said...

Ahhh! Scary scary! I LOVED the way you presented all this information! Now what to do? Only two of our lamps have these bulbs... I hate fluorescent lighting!

Lee Family said...

Weren't you just telling all of us to use these bulbs?? Rainbow Girl is awesome. She should present this at school. Okay, I'm going to read the back of my bulb packages because I have fluorescent bulbs. The steps to clean that up are truly UNreal. UNREAL! How in the world did you decide to read the back and look for mercury anyway? in the words of Homer, "You are smart. S-M-R-T."

happy canning.

Wade and Marilyn said...

Let's not use the dumb bulbs--that will solve everything. Tell Chloe she is a star!

Mrs. Olsen said...

Kathryn, thanks for stopping by. It's been too long.

Tami, your story is funny and disturbing at the same time.

Niki, I was telling you to use them, or not use them. I love them and hate them at the same time.