Fluorescent Bulb Hazards

Compact Fluorescent Bulbs
Known Hazards: Mercury, 
 Electromagnetic Radiation (EMR)


Perhaps you have heard that compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs - the new coiled bulbs) contain Mercury. That is very true, in fact each bulb contains between 3 to 5 milligrams of vaporized elemental Mercury, which will immediately spread through the air if the bulb breaks. If you breathe the vapors from a broken bulb, Mercury will enter the lungs and can enter the brain directly through the nasal cavity.

The EPA states that there is no safe exposure level of Mercury in any form. That’s ZERO parts per million. However, the RfC or Reference Concentration for chronic exposure is set at 300 nanograms of vaporized mercury according to the EPA’s referenced report, The Mercury Policy Project.

Doesn’t sound like much?

cflCleanUpCompact Fluorescent Bulb completely broken.

The State of Maine DEP CFL Bulb Breakage Study

Tests were conducted to measure the actual amount of mercury that was emitted into the air when a CFL bulb breaks. The photo above shows the research in action and the results showed that an average of over 50,000 nanograms per bulb was emitted from the different bulbs tested. See the report:  www.maine.gov/dep/rwm/homeowner/cflreport.htm.

The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) lists directions on what to do if one of these bulbs breaks in your home. First step: Leave. Do not breathe the vapors. Ventilate the room. And do not vacuum up the pieces because that will spread the vapors more, and contaminate your vacuum. Go to www.epa.gov and search on Mercury for more information on broken CFLs.

You can’t throw them away!

They could break in your garbage can, or get smashed by the garbage truck on your street, releasing the vapors in your neighborhood. You have to hand carry them to either 1) your local landfill toxic waste disposal, 2) Home Depot recycling drop off, or 3) IKEA recycling drop off. The bulbs get packed safely and are shipped to a recycling plant where the Mercury is sucked out of the bulbs and recycled so it does not go into the atmosphere.

ledBulb2 CFL's also emit a high electromagnetic field out several feet from the bulb, which is not healthy. Regular incandescent bulbs are not health hazards, but, LED (Light Emitting Diodes) bulbs are now on the market that can fit regular lamp sockets, do not contain any Mercury, do not emit heat or radiation, use a very tiny amount of electricity, and last over 10,000 hours or ten years.

LED bulbs for lamps & ceiling fixtures are available. For more information and sources on CFLs and LEDs please contact us.