Atomic Element Info:
Hg is called Mercury. Its atomic number is 80 and its atomic mass is 200.592
Cinnabar (aka vermilion, mercury sulfide, HgS), was used as a bright red pigment by the Palaeolithic painters of 30,000 years ago to decorate caves in Spain and France. Cinnabar would yield up its mercury simply on heating in a crucible, and the metal fascinated people because it was a liquid that would dissolve gold. The ancients used in on a large scale to extract alluvial gold from the sediment of rivers. The mercury dissolved the gold which could be reclaimed by distilling off the mercury.
The Almadén deposit in Spain provided Europe with its mercury. In the Americas, it was the Spanish conquerors who exploited the large deposits of cinnabar at Huancavelica in order to extract gold. In 1848 the miners of the Californian Gold Rush used mercury from the New Almaden Mines of California.
Although highly toxic, mercury had many uses, as in thermometers, but these are now strictly curtained.
Where do we find mercury?
Mercury is a metal found naturally in the environment. Human activities, such as farming, burning coal, and using mercury in manufacturing, increase the mercury cycling through the air, water, and soil. In water, mercury changes its form and becomes methylmercury. Fish absorb this mercury. When you eat fish containing mercury, you absorb the mercury, and at high levels it can be harmful. Mercury will leave the body over time in the urine, feces, and breast milk.
What is methylmercury?
Methylmercury is a type of mercury a metal that is liquid at room temperature. A nickname for mercury is quicksilver. Most compounds containing mercury are poisonous. Methylmercury is a very poisonous form of mercury. It forms when bacteria react with mercury in water, soil, or plants. It has been used to preserve grain that is fed to animals.
Methylmercury poisoning has occurred in people who have eaten meat from animals that ate grain that was treated with this from of mercury. Poisoning from eating fish from water that is contaminated with methylmercury has also occurred. One such body of water is Minamata Bay in Japan.
Causes of mercury poisoning:
Elemental mercury toxicity (which usually occurs in the vaporized form) can cause:
mood swings, nervousness, irritability, and other emotional changes,
muscle atrophy, and
decreased cognitive functions.
EPA Advised clean-up for broken light bulbs
Have people and pets leave the room.
Air out the room for 5-10 minutes by opening a window or door to the outdoor environment.
Shut off the central forced air heating/air-conditioning system, if you have one.
Collect materials needed to clean up broken bulb:
stiff paper or cardboard;
damp paper towels or disposable wet wipes (for hard surfaces); and
a glass jar with a metal lid or a seal-able plastic bag.
2.) During Cleanup
DO NOT VACUUM. Vacuuming is not recommended unless broken glass remains after all other cleanup steps have been taken. Vacuuming could spread mercury-containing powder or mercury vapor.
Be thorough in collecting broken glass and visible powder. Scoop up glass fragments and powder using stiff paper or cardboard. Use sticky tape, such as duct tape, to pick up any remaining small glass fragments and powder. Place the used tape in the glass jar or plastic bag. See the detailed cleanup instructions for more information, and for differences in cleaning up hard surfaces versus carpeting or rugs.
Place cleanup materials in a sealable container.
3.) After Cleanup
Promptly place all bulb debris and cleanup materials, including vacuum cleaner bags, outdoors in a trash container or protected area until materials can be disposed of. Avoid leaving any bulb fragments or cleanup materials indoors.
Next, check with your local government about disposal requirements in your area, because some localities require fluorescent bulbs (broken or unbroken) be taken to a local recycling center. If there is no such requirement in your area, you can dispose of the materials with your household trash.
If practical, continue to air out the room where the bulb was broken and leave the heating/air conditioning system shut off for several hours.
4.) Future Cleaning of Carpeting or Rugs: Air Out the Room During and After Vacuuming
The next several times you vacuum the rug or carpet, shut off the HVAC system if you have one, close the doors to other rooms, and open a window or door to the outside before vacuuming. Change the vacuum bag after each use in this area.
After vacuuming is completed, keep the HVAC system shut off and the window or door to the outside open, as practical, for several hours.
What Bulbs contain mercury?
Linear, U-tube and circline fluorescent tubes
High output bulbs, and
Cold-cathode fluorescent bulbs.
High intensity discharge bulbs:
Ceramic metal halide
High pressure sodium, and mercury vapor.
Mercury short-arc bulbs; and
Info on why your lights may buzz (mine do at night only for about 3 min when I am trying to sleep)
For those who hate the buzzing (or perhaps have issues with migraine headaches being induced by the fluorescent bulbs and their flickering light), electronic ballast (as opposed to the old school magnetic ones) are available and are even quite common today, such as generally found in Compact Fluorescent bulbs (CFLs). These ballasts typically operate at a drastically higher rate than 100 Hz or 120 Hz, usually in excess of 20,000 Hz. It should be noted, though, that if you switch to one of these electronic ballasts in your older fluorescent light fixture (something that is surprisingly cheap to do), you do need to swap out your fluorescent bulbs to a variety that is rated to work with your new ballast.
Now you know the truth behind light bulbs and how they can be very hazardous to your health. Not everything these companies push are healthful to our bodies. Frequencies are key and so are the elements that go into products: mercury.
More info for health effects:
There are a number of negative health effects that have been linked to working under fluorescent lights that are theorized to be caused by this body chemistry mechanism such as:
Problems sleeping, due to melatonin suppression
Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder or depression
Endocrine disruption and poor immune systems
Female hormonal/menstrual cycle disruption
Increases in breast cancer rates and tumor formation
Stress/Anxiety, due to cortisol suppression
Sexual development/maturation disruption
Agoraphobia (anxiety disorder)
Alternative to mercury light bulbs:
Compact Fluorescent Lights contain MERCURY (about 5 milligrams).
MERCURY IS A NEUROTOXIN!
The concerns over exposure to mercury are numerous.
One teaspoon of mercury can contaminate 100 acres of water!
*Light - Emitting Diodes (or LEDs) are a great energy-saving alternative to the environmental hazardous CFL's.
Today's LED's offer energy efficiency, maintenance savings, impact resistance, durability and other benefits. They are significantly more energy efficient than incandescent and fluorescent bulbs.
CDC pdf file on managing your mercury bulbs