Out of Control

Snippets from a conversation with a co-worker:

"O.K., I'm back again to complain about what's going on with mercury," says G. as he waves a newsletter to indicate an article he just read.

(A regional EPA office had released some mercury fact sheets for plumbing, heating and cooling contractors who repair or replace mercury-containing gas regulators, pressure gauges, heat generators, and thermostats about the health risks and liability issues.)

"They make no mention of compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs)! And you know that everyone is replacing their incandescent bulbs, but do you think they know how to throw them (CFLs) away?"

I sit quietly. I really don't have to say anything, just look concerned and nod every now and then.

"I understand how they can control the disposal of auto trunk lights or home thermostats, but there's no way they can be sure mercury doesn't end up in the wrong place from fluorescents…."

I decide to confuse the issue. "Did you know, G., that EPA's Office of Research and Development recently applauded some nanotechnology-based products while a new study shows that nanotubes look and behave like asbestos fibers?"

He didn't know that, just like a lot of people don't know how to dispose of CFLs properly. There is a lot that seems to be unknown; yet we plod on, inventing and improving our lives so that we may have something to remediate or cure in the future.

Posted by L.K. Williams, EPonline on Jun 02, 2008


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