Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Are piles of arsenic powder in your house bad?

Lately I learned some valuable information: orpiment degrades in sunlight. One should keep orpiment (and realgar) samples locked up in a dark place.

Orpiment, for those who don't know, is an orange aresenic mineral, often associated with its red counterpart, realgar, and often associated with calcite at certain types of gold deposits.

I collected some calcite-orpiment-realgar samples while at Carlin mine some years ago. I noticed that the realgar had more or less disappeared before I moved to California, but the orpiment was still a vibrant pretty orange, and I was happy enough by the colour that I didn't mind that I was carting around, and decorating my apartment with, toxic arsenic minerals.

For the past year plus I have been living in sunny sunny California with rocks lining all my windowsills. Sure enough the orpiment samples are included in this generality.

If we add the first statement with this last statement, I think you can figure out why I need to get cleaning and (sadly) toss these samples.

3 comments:

Kilometres said...

Aieeee! Glad you figured this one out. I'm too big a fan of Gnat to have her succumb to the perils of arsenic!

I hope you're able to get toxic-free rocks for your next decorative series of window rocks.

Heather said...

I've got some great uranium-rich samples stashed in the bottom of Jamie's changing table. What a bad Mom!
Want them?

gnat said...

Heather, you're hysterical!!! Ok, uranium in the presence of baby is DEFINITELY worse than arsenic free floating in my apartment (this one is by the eating table though)... still haven't cleaned it up yet.
But hey, sure, I'll happily replace them with uranium. Does uranium degrade in sunlight?