Monday, April 22, 2013

What wants to live forever?

A friend of mine on facebook asked if I knew of a company perfect for mailing away her products that contained mercury like CFL bulbs.  I didn't have an answer and threw out the first thing I remembered about mercury from a visit my wife and I made to Barcelona.

We were soaking in the splendor of Spain.  We basking in Gaudi's striking architecture seen in the Segrada Familia and random homes and apartments.  We lamented that the chocolate museum was closed due to a local holiday.  The one museum we made a point to see was the Miro Foundation gallery on the hill of Montjuic.

We entered and saw Miro's signature awkward, colorful, and visually challenging paintings and sculptures.  These all weren't that large, but the carpet dangling from the ceiling appeared to be 40 or 50 feet long.
Mercury fountain at the Miro Foundation in Barcelona, Spain
There was also the egg sculpture or I should say the negative egg sculpture, because there was an egg shaped hole perfect for a tourist to take a photo.

The most memorable and most scary exhibit was the preserved mercury fountain.  The minute you see what appears to be liquid metal constantly flowing with the consistency of water, it seems like magic.  And it is magic for all intensive purposes because the fountain has been flowing for nearly 80 years behind sealed glass.  Normally it takes thousands of degrees to make any metal move like fluid.  It would never retain it's original color, but be  glowing orange and white.  But this fountain was naturally doing what seemed impossible.

My childlike excitement wore off recently when I read that mercury can act as a neurotoxin.  To recap, this mercury fountain hasn't evaporated in over 80 years and is a neurotoxin.  Humans engage in the deadliest pastimes!!  And they still do.  I have several "energy efficient bulbs" and one thermostat with mercury which again stays around for a long time.

Yesterday I took my son and daughter out for a walk on our local rail trail.  My son asked if the Rail Trail was a good guy or a bad guy.  He also asked if the Woods were a good guy or bad guy.  He gets this polarization from the latest cartoons he fancies like Batman (Bold and Brave) and Dino Squad.  I told him neither were bad or good.  It was up to the person passing through to know what was bad for them.  If they know what poison ivy looks like, they will be wise to avoid it to save their skin.  If they don't know, they will learn the hard way.

When it comes to mercury, I don't want any of us to learn the hard way.  Please do your homework and avoid buying products with mercury.  Take appropriate steps to remove those items from your home as well.  When I say remove, I don't mean trash the stuff, but see if the company taking your trash will accept your CFL bulbs, batteries, and mercury laden thermostats.  I use Waste Management for trash removal, and they have a mail in program.

On this fine Earth Day, try to make decisions that don't let toxic problems linger for those young ones to come.  For me, relearning and a breaking of habits to make wise decisions can be cumbersome, but it's still worth while exercise.