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post #1 of 12 Old 01-01-2015, 03:06 PM - Thread Starter
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Unhappy Blown bulb - mercury vapor hazard

Hi,

A few days ago, my wife and I were watching TV on our projector (which is mounted on the ceiling about 5 feet behind us). The projector (Optoma HD33) made a loud pop and the image went dark.
A little bit of research showed the likely cause: an exploded high pressure mercury bulb. The manual didn’t say anything about Mercury, so I just took the projector out of its mount and set it on a table in an adjacent room. When I opened it, the lamp had a housing and there was broken pieces of glass everywhere.
I took the housing and tipped it over to recover the broken glass before performing the disassembly to get to the bulb. I also vacuumed the inside of the projector as I saw a few pieces of glass had shattered inside of it.
As I got to the bulb, I realized there was a Hg symbol written on it. It is an Osram P-VIP bulb, which, if I’m not mistaken, houses about 30 mg of Hg, about 10x more than your typical CFL.

Now I’m worried about the following:
1) when the blow up happened, the projector was running, and so were its cooling fans. As far as I understand, when a bulb breaks in a running projector, Hg is in vapor form. I suspect the vapor got blown by the fans outside of the projector and got “sprinkled” in the living room around the projector (probably over my wife & I + more). Doors were closed (it was night time and cold).
2) the “sprinkled” area described above contains a playground for my 1 year old daughter. She spends a lot of time there, and close to the ground.
3) we did not vent the area (the living room is approx 50 m^3) until today (3 to 4 days later), where we aired/vented the whole house for about 1/2h (all windows open everywhere) – it’s winter time
4) the full house fan/heater has been running almost non stop since the breakage, potentially spreading Hg vapors around

My mistakes:
1) not venting the area immediately
2) using a vacuum to get shards out of the projector
3) not knowing how to deal with a projector bulb explosion

I’m obviously concerned that my house may be contaminated to dangerous levels especially in areas near the projector (where the bulb exploded) which is where my 1 year old often plays.
It’s an 1800 sq ft house.

Because it wasn’t a spill (there is no visible Hg or beads or anything of the sort), it’s difficult for me to find “what to clean up”. It’s invisible.

Do I need to worry?
Is it worth measuring my family’s exposure (urine test?) and measure Hg levels in different parts of the house?

Maybe this is silly and it's unwarranted concern (I hope). If so, please tell me!

Your recommendations are highly appreciated.

Many thanks in advance for your time.

-- Greg
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post #2 of 12 Old 01-01-2015, 06:16 PM
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Take off the tinfoil hat and replace the bulb and get on with your life.
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post #3 of 12 Old 01-01-2015, 06:49 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jh30uk View Post
Take off the tinfoil hat and replace the bulb and get on with your life.
I take it you think this concern is unwarranted. Would you care to explain why?

I'm mostly worried about my 1 year old because she's just crawling in that area (with nose close to the ground).
Yes, it may sound ridiculous, but when you have a baby your protecting instincts kick in to 11, possibly into overreaction.

I'd feel a lot better if I understood why it's not that big a deal. I hope it's not too much to ask.

Cheers!

-- Greg
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post #4 of 12 Old 01-01-2015, 07:08 PM
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Check this link for broken cfl. I think cleanup should be similar.


http://www2.epa.gov/cfl/cleaning-broken-cfl


Good Luck


Bob
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post #5 of 12 Old 01-01-2015, 07:21 PM
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Blown bulb - mercury vapor hazard

Because the bulb in a projector isn't exposed to the environment due to its housing, most of the hazard is contained, save for the vapour itself (there's thus little risk of glass or powder landing on the carpet, for instance). So the primary clean-up procedure is ventilation.


Also while the vapour itself is unsafe, the quantity isn't absolutely massive: it's almost certainly fully dissipated at this point. I doubt the carpet is still (or was ever) at risk. Likewise due to your living room's reasonable size, it's unlikely that the degree of vapour exposure your family had from the burst would put you guys at significant risk. I'd rest easy at this point
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Last edited by kreeturez; 01-01-2015 at 07:24 PM.
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post #6 of 12 Old 01-02-2015, 04:19 AM
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You might have inhaled about a can of Tuna worth, I bet you'll be fine.
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post #7 of 12 Old 01-02-2015, 06:42 AM
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The hazard is the mercury vapor in an enclosed environment being inhaled in a quanity sufficient to cause poisoning. Breathing in mercury vapor is hazardous because inhalation leads to it being absorbed into the bloodstream. Mercury vapor even small amounts in an enclosed area can cause health problems due to inhalation, the vapor is also absorbed to some extent via the skin. Signs of poison would be coughing, breathlessness, chest pains a tigh chest or burning feeling in chest, feeling irritable and nervous, shaking tremors, coughing up blood, difficulty breathing.

Once the mercury vapor has dispersed the hazard form mercury is far far less. Very little mercury is absorbed by your body if you swallow a small amount of liquid mercury or get it on your skin for a short time. This is considered almost non-toxic and highly unlikely to cause symptoms.

The other hazard of mercury is that once absorb into the human body it stays in the human body and eventually if you absorb enough over time you can suffer mercury poisoning due to the sheer quanity of mercury in your body.

If you have any concerns about how much mercury you have absorbed a simple blood or urine mercury test should set your mind at ease.

Last edited by dovercat; 01-02-2015 at 06:51 AM.
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post #8 of 12 Old 01-02-2015, 07:13 AM - Thread Starter
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Thank you

Thank you guys. Appreciate the suggestions & wisdom.

Now let's see if some superpowers come out of this!

-- Greg
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post #9 of 12 Old 01-02-2015, 07:37 AM
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I just have to add my $0.02 here.

I'm 74 years old and as a young boy I often would purchase Mercury at a local chemical company and play with the metal.

We used to use it to coat nickels and dimes to make them much shinier and we used our bare fingers to do all of this.

I'm still very much alive. <G>
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post #10 of 12 Old 01-02-2015, 01:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by flight planner View Post
I just have to add my $0.02 here.

I'm 74 years old and as a young boy I often would purchase Mercury at a local chemical company and play with the metal.

We used to use it to coat nickels and dimes to make them much shinier and we used our bare fingers to do all of this.

I'm still very much alive. <G>
Yes, and think how much smarter us old farts would be if we hadn't chewed on the lead pellets for our pellet guns when we were kids that didn't know lead was bad for us.

Politicians have passed all these hazardous warning label laws on the assumption that it can't hurt to be too careful, but they neglect to think about the cost of the paranoia and product liability lawsuits that follow.

If the amount of mercury in a UHP lamp was really dangerous, they would have been banned and all lamps would be Xenon or LED sources by now.

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post #11 of 12 Old 01-02-2015, 01:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dreamer View Post
Yes, and think how much smarter us old farts would be if we hadn't chewed on the lead pellets for our pellet guns when we were kids that didn't know lead was bad for us.

Politicians have passed all these hazardous warning label laws on the assumption that it can't hurt to be too careful, but they neglect to think about the cost of the paranoia and product liability lawsuits that follow.

If the amount of mercury in a UHP lamp was really dangerous, they would have been banned and all lamps would be Xenon or LED sources by now.
Use a pair of throwaway vinyl gloves when you are cleaning out the pieces. Wipe up any shiny surfaces in the immediate area with a paper towel. Make sure the filter is cleaned to allow for better cooling. Expose the child to intense light for 5 minutes then put the child in a dark room. If the child glows call the EPA and ask to speak to Barry O He will tell you how to whip up an antidote!! Bohanna
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post #12 of 12 Old 01-02-2015, 02:13 PM
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If mercury is swallowed less than a thousandth that is less than 0.1% is absobred by the body.
Tuna contains abourt 0.2 parts per million.

Likewise skin aborption of liquid mercury is insignificant compared to inhaling mercury vapor.

A projector lamp contains about 30 mg of mercury and it is in vapor form and under pressure, if the lamp explodes it is released into the room in vapor form.
If inhaled in vapor form it is readly absorbed into the blood 80% absorption.
An adult can suffer effects of poision from absorbing as little as 0.25mg.

What makes it safe or not is the size of the room, which determines the amount of mercury vapor you are inhaling, and how long you stay in the room.

Once mercury is not in vapor form it is far far less hazardous.

Last edited by dovercat; 01-02-2015 at 02:23 PM.
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