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Due to the recent Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, the federal government is outlawing certain incandescent bulbs starting in less than one year. And in California it has already started.

Starting in 2012, "general service incandescent lamps" (according to the government this means a standard incandescent or halogen type lamp) will have to be at least 30% more energy efficient than today's incandescent versions.

This phase out of existing technology incandescent bulbs will start with the 100 watt bulb on 1/1/2012 (1/1/2011 for California), the 75 watt bulb on 1/1/2013; and the 60 watt and 40 watt bulbs on 1/1/2014. By 2020 all bulbs will have to be at least 70% more efficient than today's incandescent bulbs.

The law was designed to make CFL's the de-facto standard in lighting, and because of this law you've seen the hyping of CFL's like never before. In fact, the 2007 Energy Bill contained $40,000,000 to "educate" you to make "make energy-efficient lighting choices." I've been using CFL's since 2006 when we built our Energy Star compliant home because they were the only commercial technology available for some energy conserving lighting applications. As I used them, then had to replace them years before they were supposed to fail, and then tried to recycle them, I can now say that I view these things in a very dim light (pun intended).

CFL's contain the neurotoxin known as mercury in a vapor form, and are anything but "green." Proponents like to dismiss the "small" amount of mercury in a CFL but I'll get to that misleading argument in a moment. CFL's are not made in the USA. They are almost exclusively made in China with plants powered by dirty coal.

A recent 2009 study by the United States Agency for International Development found that of the 300+ CFL manufacturers in China, only 40% produce CFLs that meet the national standards. China does not regulate the production of its exports. That means laws and regulations the Chinese have for products sold within China do not apply to exported products, and more than 70% of China's CFL production is exported.

So "Green Jobs" get created in China as companies like GE closed their Winchester, VA manufacturing plant in 2010 and shipped jobs to China. CFL's are an environmental hazard from their production, to their breakage in the home, to the waste stream they create. As GE workers ironically joke "It's illegal to dump mercury in the river, but not in the landfill."

CFL's have over 40 different components and electronic parts which are prone to failure and quality control issues, and to this day have had many problems including:

So what about the mercury in our little "green" Neurotoxin Light Bulb? One of the myths in the pro-CFL hype is the lack of danger in a broken CFL because of the "small" amount of mercury it contains. Proponents like to make the apple and orange comparison of a CFL breaking to a mercury thermometer breaking. However there is a big difference between mercury vapor as found in a CFL and liquid mercury in its normal state as found in a thermometer. The EPA itself states:

"It is not uncommon for children to break fever thermometers in their mouths. Mercury that is swallowed in such cases poses low risk comparison to the risk of breathing mercury vapor."

The risk posed by inhaling mercury vapor is real and those who try to pretend the risk does not exist because an unsafe CFL does not fit their narrative or corporate interests are irresponsible at best. The risk is exacerbated when a CFL breaks in an enclosed room, such as a bedroom.

In February 2008 the State of Maine conducted extensive real-world tests on the mercury vapor levels encountered with a broken CFL. They conducted 45 different tests and the results showed mercury levels in the room to be over 300 times the maximum allowable exposure levels, with mercury levels then falling if the room is vented and rebounding again when the room is closed up:

"Mercury concentration in the study room air often exceeds the Maine Ambient Air Guideline (MAAG) of 300 nanograms per cubic meter (ng/m3) for some period of time, with short excursions over 25,000 ng/m3, sometimes over 50,000 ng/m3, and possibly over 100,000 ng/m3 from the breakage of a single compact fluorescent lamp."

You cannot vacuum up the breakage. The study states: 

"Cleaning up a broken CFL by vacuuming up the smaller debris particles in an un-vented room can elevate mercury concentrations over the MAAG in the room and it can linger at these levels for hours."

And replacing your carpeting? Well, they leave that up to you to decide:

"The decision on whether or not to remove carpet where there was a broken lamp may depend on a number of factors including the location of the carpet (e.g. where a child plays or where the carpet is frequently agitated), the occupants of the household, or possibly the type of lamp broken."

The EPA has a specific 12-point hazardous material clean-up plan you need to follow if you break a CFL in your home. I outline the steps for you in the tutorial How to Clean Up a Broken CFL.

The process outlined by the EPA for cleaning up one of these "safe" bulbs involves ventilating the room (a problem in winter), duct tape, a glass jar, cardboard, plastic bags, and other extraordinary steps and materials.

So where does that all leave us? Well, beside LED lighting, new lighting technology development continues. One promising technology is the Hybrid Electric Lamp being developed at the University of Rochester which uses a "newly-developed method for nearly doubling the efficiency of an incandescent by blackening the tungsten filament with a short pulse laser."

Other incandescent derivative lighting available today uses deposition coating technology to gain efficiencies, such as with the Halogena Line of lighting by Phillips. These bulbs contain no mercury, are dimmable, last twice as long and produce as much light as today's incandescents but with over 30% less energy.

At the end of the day innovation will prevail and I believe we will end up with an incandescent derivative lamp and not a little "green" Neurotoxin Light Bulb as the solution.

Comments

January 22, 2011 at 5:13 pm
(1) Blue Moose says:

I would have thought that vapor mercury would be much LESS dangerous than liquid. Learned something new! Thanks for the post.

January 22, 2011 at 9:31 pm
(2) Louise says:

Boy, this is something that has worried me ever since I found out they contain mercury vapor. I constantly worried about breakage, and finally just decided to take them out. They never did seem to last all that long, and I prefer peace of mind over saving a few dollars.

January 22, 2011 at 9:33 pm
(3) Louise says:

P.S. Thank you, thank you for this information!

January 23, 2011 at 7:42 am
(4) Louigi says:

Now, are the energy cops going to invade our hoimes and confiscate the nasty incandescent bulbs? Will there be a black market in the old style bulbs? Can we sue the Govt if they make us sick?

January 24, 2011 at 7:52 am
(5) mike says:

As a fire fighter, we have seen a fire from one of these bulbs. The base shorted out and caught fire, it was NOT the lamp but the BULB. I myself stocked up on the old style bulbs, many stores are haveing a rebait on the old style bulbs. I bought 50.

January 24, 2011 at 9:09 am
(6) homerepair says:

Mike, very true. You’ve seen it first hand. There are many more examples and warnings out there on the fire risks of CFL’s like this Christmas fire and this example and this one and here. You must be careful.

January 25, 2011 at 1:19 am
(7) k hager says:

Watch out for flickering from these bulbs. I thought
maybe the bulb was loose in our overhead office fixture. It was a good thing I checked. When I took off the cover the bulbs were spewing smoking from the part that screws into the fixture and giving off a nasty chemical smell even though the fixture was turned off. I turned on the fan to help and got a rag and unscrewed them. They were really hot as was the insulation on the light fixture. I was really taken back at smoke and smell. The bases are now off color. We had only been in the house 8 months when this happened and the bulbs are only at the most 2 months old. The fixture is a typical center ceiling fixture with 2 enclosed bulbs. From what I could research these bulbs are not safe to put in enclosed type fixtures. These were not off brands. One bulb was a Sylvania cf30el/twist the other was a GE Helical FLE 20 ht3/2/SW.

We have 4 bedrooms with similar fixtures and have now removed all the cfls. We thought we were going to help the environment and save money in the long run instead we are lucky we did not have a fire. Please be safe with these bulbs.

January 25, 2011 at 1:18 pm
(8) Krista Corey says:

Wow, very useful information. We learn something new every day. Thank you.

January 26, 2011 at 10:55 pm
(9) Ronda says:

Not all CFLs are made in other countries, not all incandescent bulbs (in fact few brands) are made/assembled America. GE perhaps should have been pursuing alternative technologies and innovating to keep jobs. We have held on to old technologies too long.

I have been (literally) burned by incandescents, witnessed too many fires from their use–both proper and improper. Please, let’s not over-romanticize them.

And please stop the scare tactics. There are plenty of choices for energy efficient lighting. Pick one you are comfortable with and say good bye to outdated, non-sustainable choices.

January 26, 2011 at 11:48 pm
(10) homerepair says:

Ronda,
Your post is inaccurate and unfortunately perpetuates the typical narrative of CFL risk-deniers. I understand CFL’s have an almost religious-like following for some people and to them, these bulbs cannot even be objectively criticized. However, CFL’s are what they are, a fire risk, health and environmental hazard. And again CFL’s are not made in the USA so please do not try and mislead my readers. There are no green jobs in the USA created by CFL manufacturing, just a loss of manufacturing jobs.

You try to make it sound like GE erred. Actually companies like GE and others are making a profit windfall shipping manufacturing and technology “green jobs” overseas. GE just continues to outsource its CFL manufacturing to countries such as China with cheap labor, dirty coal fired plants and factories that lack the OSHA protection our workers enjoy here in the USA.

January 27, 2011 at 12:57 pm
(11) Joe says:

A little truth goes a long way as does half truths. Not all CFL’s contain significant amounts of mercury. The computer display your most likely looking at contains 1,000′s of times more mercury and known carcinogens and poisons than a CFL. I suppose a oil lamp to you is better.

[Homerepair Response]
Actually Joe, no CFL’s contain “significant” amounts of mercury per se. The mercury exposure risk is upon breakage when the mercury vaporizes and when millions of CFL’s hit the landfill and waste stream. The canard used by CFL proponents is that CFL’s don’t contain much mercury so they are not a risk. As I state in the blog, mercury levels in a room with a broken CFL can be over 300 times the maximum allowable exposure levels, with mercury levels then falling if the room is vented and rebounding again when the room is closed up.

By the way, I use an LCD computer screen and am not a particular fan of oil lamps for home lighting. :)

January 27, 2011 at 1:06 pm
(12) Monica Koziol says:

I have these all over the house! What do I do with them?

My mother had surgery two years ago and cannot seem to gain back her once fabulous memory for detail. What studies are available on the harm of mercury in these bulbs?

[Homerepair Response]
Monica, the CFL’s have nothing to do with your mom’s memory loss. The CFL mercury risk is when the CFL bulb breaks in the home and mercury vapor is released. The other CFL risks that I outline in my blog remain, but not the release of mercury vapor. Mercury risk for an intact CFL does not occur again until the burnt out CFL hits the landfill and breaks. A 2004 study by the Association of Lighting and Mercury Recyclers found only 2% of all household fluorescent lamps are recycled.

January 27, 2011 at 1:30 pm
(13) Ray says:

This is useful info. Besides the health concerns, there are other issues related to CFL that are seldom discussed such as the UV light emitted (which is why CFL are never used on artworks), the flickering/buzzing effects of CFL, and the improper disposal of CFLs.
LED lighting is the way to go – learn more at http://www.greenofficetech.com

January 27, 2011 at 4:16 pm
(14) dedou says:

Thanks for this article! I first read about the dangers of CFL’s in Prevention magazine last year. Their article focused on “dirty” electricity; the unseen by highly unhealthy electromagnetic waves that CFLs, among other things, give off. I have never bought the hype and boy, am I glad I didn’t! I prefer the warm lighting of incandescents, and will happily use my stash of them until the new technology comes out, creating jobs here in USA. Great service, good on you!

January 27, 2011 at 4:23 pm
(15) Cheryl says:

I was told recently that CFL bulbs emit radiation and that studies in Britain showed that if workers were with in a yard of the light they are in the field of harmful radiation and lost their hair. I presume that it was because of the long exposure of sitting at a desk. I am currently trying LED lights – so far they are very directional with the light.

[Homerepair Response]
Cheryl, that is not true about hair loss, it’s not that kind of radiation. The study you refer to was by a 2008 study by Britain’s Health Protection Agency. CFL’s emit UV radiation and the study found some CFL’s “should not be used where people are in close proximity – closer than 30 cm or 1 ft – to the bare light bulb for over 1 hour a day” like someone who works with a task light.

The other type of radiation CFL’s produce is EMF radiation or ElectricoMagnetic Field radiation. Unlike LED or incandescent lighting, CFL’s also will create prolonged EMF exposure of extremely low frequency (ELF) of 60 Hz. Studies on EMF effects from CFL’s are just now gaining traction in Switzerland and the US. One March 2010 study on health effects from CFL radiation by doctors at St. Vincent Hospital titled RESEARCH INTO THE EFFECTS AND IMPLICATIONS OF INCREASED CFL USE showed that a 26 watt GE CFL would produce EMF readings of 6-22 mG. The report also states: “Results of several epidemiological studies showed a moderate association between exposure to magnetic fields above 3-4 mG and occurrence of childhood leukemia. This risk doubled above the 3-4 mG level. Caution is required regarding efforts to extrapolate spot readings of EMFs to long-term exposure for the purpose of estimating health risks”.” Look for more studies on EMF impacts of CFL’s in the future.

January 27, 2011 at 4:49 pm
(16) Marla says:

Besides the price, danger, and poor light emitted by CFLs, there is also the matter of human cost. There is no OSHA in China and the conditions people work in there can be horrendous! Hundreds are sicken and die because of exposure to components of these bulbs. How compassionate is that?! But at least we’re saving a few carbon credits, right?

[Homerepair Response]
Correct Marla, the UK Times in 2009 ran an article on the toxic mercury poisoning of hundreds of Chinese workers making CFL’s for first world countries.

January 27, 2011 at 8:48 pm
(17) Susan Rubinsky says:

My brother is an electrician and he has been advising me and his clients about the proper and improper uses of CFLs for several years now. He is a big proponent of using these bulbs under the right conditions but is also disgusted by the lack of basic information available to the public.

Here are two of the main facts that I have learned from him:

- Most CFLs are not designed to be used outdoors. If you do use them outdoors their life is greatly reduced if they are consistently exposed to freezing temperatures. They do make CFLs for outdoor use but they are rather expensive. My brother advises his clients to use incandescent or other bulbs specifically made for the outdoors.

- Most CFLs are not designed to be installed in closed fixtures such as domed glass ceiling fixtures that are sealed to the ceiling. Installing CFLs in these types of fixtures is an electrical hazard and also greatly reduces the life of the bulb. He advises everyone to NEVER install a CFL in this type of fixture.

What I find most offensive is that there is hardly any information about these issues in the public domain.

[Homerepair Response]
Thanks for the great post Susan. Useful, instructive points and your brother is exactly right, CFL’s require dry, non-enclosed fixtures. They are not designed for impact or vibration either. As I mention in the tutorial 2007 Energy Bill, CFL’s do not have the versatility of incandescents and as a result, there are many types of incandescent bulbs exempt from the 2007 law. Just a reality of CFL technology. CFL’s have a much more limited application range than incandescents or LED’s and many home fixtures just do not work for CFL’s, for example an enclosed ceiling fixture.

However, much more effort continues to go into blind promotion of these bulbs instead of useful consumer education on the limited home applications where they can be used, how to remediate and clean up a broken bulb and how to recycle them. In my community we were incorrectly told by City Hall to just throw CFL’s in the trash! Ignorance of CFL risks is a major problem and your brother is doing a service by trying to educate clients, family and friends.

January 27, 2011 at 11:57 pm
(18) kitsy says:

Duke Energy in my hometown recently offered free cfl’s to it’s customers. I am eligible for 15 of them in different wattages and am waiting for them to be delivered. It seems very irresponsible for Duke Energy to promote such a dangerous item. Any comment on this?

[Homerepair Response]
Kitsy, the Duke Energy give away program is one of many taxpayer subsidized programs to try and increase market penetration and consumer acceptance of CFL’s. Marketing, rebates, pro-CFL messaging, give-aways all has intensified since the DOE created Energy Star. Energy Star partners with retailers and manufacturers and others to promote consumer acceptance and market penetration of CFL’s. What you are experiencing with Duke is happening nationwide and has been ongoing for many years. However, consumer market resistance to CFL technology is increasing as people experience CFL’s first hand and learn more about them.

A recent New York Times article states:

“Despite more than a decade of costly C.F.L. promotions — including giveaways, discounted prices and rebates — the bulbs have failed to capture the hearts (and sockets) of American consumers.”

Energy Star Products Manager Richard Karney wrote on September 18, 2009 to a cabal of CFL stakeholders:

“For those who believe The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 will make C.F.L.s the default choice for consumer lighting needs, I again urge caution…The market for CFLs is far from transformed. DOE has been monitoring and reporting on the CFL market as reflected in the first edition of the ENERGY STAR CFL Market Profile. Based on additional data and analysis that DOE has continued to gather, it’s apparent that the [CFL] market is headed in the wrong direction.”

January 28, 2011 at 12:29 pm
(19) Melanie says:

One of my CFL bulbs blackened and became so fragile that I wrapped it up in 4 milk bags and then duct-taped it shut. I think we almost had a fire.

This is disturbing.

January 28, 2011 at 1:19 pm
(20) beau10 says:

This is scary. How about more information re CFLs and “fire” – where, when and how?
And doesn’t mercury remain in the body and not dissipate?

[Homerepair Response]
The issue with CFL’s is that unlike the incandescent light bulbs we all grew up with, CFL’s are not all created equal. CFL’s cannot be used outside (unless specially designed), cannot be used in an enclosed fixture (unless specially designed and less than 42 watts), cannot be used on a dimming circuit (unless specially designed), and so on. Using a regular CFL in any of these situations is a fire risk. Also, the fire may not happen immediately and may takes months before the electronic circuitry in the bulb ultimately fails and heats up enough to cause the fire.

And that is another area where pro-CFL propaganda touts the “coolness” of the CFL lamp as safer than the heat from an incandescent. Yet the fire risk in CFL’s comes from the electronics and ballast (see photo above in the blog post), not from the CFL lamp itself.

The base of the bulb is not required to be flame-retardant, that is a voluntary standard. A March 2007 Product Safety Alert from the Canadian Electrical Safety Authority states:

“When CFL’s fail they may emit smoke, an odour, or a popping sound; and the plastic base may become discoloured, charred or deformed. Certification agencies have advised that this failure does not present a shock or fire hazard for approved products.”

Ummm, OK. The CFL is the only consumer product I have encountered where smoking, charring, pungent odor emissions, melting and deforming of plastic and charring is considered normal for “approved products” as a CFL fails. While not all CFL’s do this at failure, the fact that it is at all considered “normal” is utterly irresponsible.

January 28, 2011 at 5:49 pm
(21) Julie says:

What is irritating to me is that the CFL was invented by Americans in America in the 1970s. Now, the jobs that could have been created have been shipped to China. Made in America could have had some health restrictions instead in unrestricted in China.

[Homerepair Response]
Yes Julie, a lot of people who bought into the “Green Economy / Green Jobs” pitch so prevalent in CFL promotion feel betrayed. It doesn’t stop at CFL’s either, it’s happening with wind turbine production too.

January 28, 2011 at 9:32 pm
(22) Dr. Mark H. Shapiro says:

I’ve been using CFLs for home lighting ever since the California energy crisis hit with NO PROBLEMS. It’s true that there is a minor Hg hazard if you break one, but if you use a little common sense the likelihood of breakage is extremely low. They are easily recycled. Just take the burned out ones to your neighborhood Home Depot store. They have a recycling program for CFLs.

You probably are at a higher risk from mercury contamination if you eat fish on a regular basis than from CFLs.

I’ve found that CFLs last from 5 to 10 times as long as incandescent bulbs. I’ve never had one burn out prematurely, or burn up.

Like anything else, read the label and use as directed!

January 28, 2011 at 10:11 pm
(23) richard z says:

hi i am off to wall marts tomorrow and i will spend a ton of money to buy incanddescent’s that will last me a long time and i hope that message 22 does not break one of those cfl’s,i don’t think that he understands how dangerous they are but that is his problem

January 29, 2011 at 10:14 am
(24) Lewis Patrie says:

Where are the comparisons between exposures to broken CFLs and broken fluorescent light bulbs to which we have been allowing ourselves to be casually exposed for decades?

[Homerepair Response]
Lewis, good question. The mercury vapor exposure studies and EPA clean up guidelines have been based on CFL’s designed for home use and for CFL’s broken in a residential room such as a bedroom. Current standards for commercial 4 foot fluorescent “T8″ lamps have them containing about the same amount of vaporized mercury risk as a CFL, about 4-5 mg. T8 lamps have replaced the old T12 (thicker diameter) commercial fluorescent lamps in new construction.

Commercial fluorescent lamps are not really used in interior residential living spaces and I think you’d agree risk of exposure to a broken commercial fluorescent lamp is low, at least that is my experience. I’ve been working in commercial offices with fluorescent lighting for over 30 years and have not been exposed to a broken commercial fluorescent lamp at any time, but your experience may be different.

Commercial fluorescent lamps have electronics/ballast separate from the lamp and are constructed in metal housings. Residential CFL’s however, have internal electronics and ballasts housed in plastic bases that may or may not be flame retardant (a voluntary standard). And even with flame retardant plastic bases, CFL’s commonly emit smoke, pungent odors, a popping sound and the plastic bases may become discolored, burned, charred or melted when they fail.

February 3, 2011 at 12:38 pm
(25) DJSmith says:

Thank you for your post. Been leary and afraid of the spirals. Looking forward to the hybrid incandescent bulb. Meantime, hoarding the ones to be outlawed.

February 10, 2011 at 12:40 pm
(26) Mike Z says:

What about all the 4′ bulbs we’ve used over the last
umpteen years? Do they pollute?

February 10, 2011 at 3:10 pm
(27) Andrew says:

I have a porch light on a timer light switch. That is to say I need to use in the porch fixture a light buld that can withstand temperatures from -10 to 110 and be automatically switched on and off. I have heard that CFL’s can not do this. How can I obey the new laws and still have my porch light on ??????

February 12, 2011 at 9:00 pm
(28) Michael says:

I’ve been using CFLs since about 2006. Most fail in under a year, and I find them to be horribly expensive compared to incandescent bulbs. Further, they produce a yellow light unless you get the newer versions that are designed to produce a white light.

As I mentioned, though, they fail constantly. I’ve replaced every light bulb in my house at least twice this past year. There’s only one bulb that has lasted more than a year. The one that should fail… is outside the house. It’s lasted for five years now… and is subjected to extreme cold (-20) in the winter and extreme heat (110) in the summer.

One thing I noticed the article didn’t mention… one that I’d think is really important to know. CFLs can not be installed in dusk to dawn fixtures or in fixtures that have dimmers. They just aren’t designed to work that way… they are either on or off. There’s no variable output, like with an incandescent. So, in any location where you have a dusk to dawn fixture… or in any location where you have a dimmer (like dining room lighting)… CFLs simply are not an option. Nor will they likely ever be.

February 25, 2011 at 9:47 pm
(29) kc says:

I bought many 10 year light bulbs and now I am glad I did, as I’ll be dead before I use the last of them. If you turn fluorescent bulbs on and off often, they will burn out much faster. You need to leave them on all the time or all day to ‘save’ money. They aren’t telling you the whole truth, just want to market the new bulbs. I’m sticking with decade ones.

March 1, 2011 at 3:55 pm
(30) dianags says:

Who can I Complain too? I can’t see well when I use this kind of bulb. It also causes me to have a headache when I read very long with the CFL lighting. Is there anything to the rumor that flourescent bulbs affect the throid?

March 4, 2011 at 1:50 pm
(31) Melissa says:

Ooh my Gosh! We learn something new every day. Thanks for information.

March 29, 2011 at 5:29 pm
(32) Dawid Lombard says:

I would like to share my experience – I have a guest house, one room with 5 energy saver bulbs. One almost a month ago we started smelling a very strong chemical smell, but could not find the source. Then one night in my bedroom I suddenly get the same smell close to me bedlamp – also with enery saver bulb and realised that is the source of the smell. Now, I am getting concerned about the effects of such chemical smell/discharge? Or should I just replace the bulbs as a good citizen? Or maybe it needs some further investigation? Why do I need to pay for replacement of such bulbs? Who is to blame for it?

September 27, 2012 at 12:42 am
(33) linda says:

I removed all florescents from my home. How dare the gov tell us what lighting to use,especially when they are aware of the risks. Phillips is now amking loew energy regular lite bulbs with no mercury and there is also LED lites,as well. Home Depot ,for one carries these. I just stocked up.

May 15, 2013 at 5:39 pm
(34) John says:

So when there is NO warning on a product why or how would anyone know this? A google search? How many people are breaking these, vacuuming them up with their kids around, not venting, and letting there kids play with contaminated toys or sleeping on contaminated beds with contaminated
blankets. Seriously. This is scary as my math says that these can very well poison you.

May 15, 2013 at 5:48 pm
(35) John says:

In canada NO ONE knows about this. Not doctors not poison control, not the local health unit. In the USA it seems that if you broke a thermostat or something with a lot of mercury in it there would be someone you could call at least to come test levels or do a cleanup. Even the private companies that do dangerous goods cleanup , industrial hygiene companies (asbestos, mold, spills, etc) don’t know anything about mercury here. How do I know this?

May 15, 2013 at 5:49 pm
(36) John says:

My son knocked over a lamp and picked up a piece of a cfl. I had heard something about mercury in them before but all the advertisements on billboards or tv or packaging say nothing about them being hazardous and basically everyone thinks its a tiny little harmless poof (including my doctor and poison control). There are ZERO warnings on the packaging, the only thing it says on the base of the bulb is Hg, so how the hell are, non chemists supposed to just know that these are actually hazardous? I thought if it doesn’t have a warning on it it couldn’t be dangerous as even windshield washer fluid has a skull and crossbones in bold

May 15, 2013 at 5:51 pm
(37) John says:

So, as my wife picked up the pieces with the kids in the living room where it broke I got the shop vac and she started vacuuming as I decided to look it up online. Wow, I told her to top the vacuum and evacuate to upstairs, I opened the door and shut off the heat (winter at the time) and we all went to take decontamination showers. We only vented about half an hour to an hour or so (because the health canada website says 15 minutes) now I find out we should have vented for hours (Google, Maine cfl study), at that time we were still thinking that there is no way this is a big deal because we called poison control and they said and I quote “5 mg of mercury is not enough to harm anyone, but make sure you don’t throw the bulb in the regular garbage” well honestly, FU poison control. If I didnt keep reading my kids would have kept playing with the toys that were in the area of the break. We went to my doctor who called me crazy for worrying about a lightbulb

May 15, 2013 at 5:56 pm
(38) John says:

So, as my wife picked up the pieces with the kids in the living room where it broke I got the shop vac and she started vacuuming as I decided to look it up online. Wow, I told her to top the vacuum and evacuate to upstairs, I opened the door and shut off the heat (winter at the time) and we all went to take decontamination showers. We only vented about half an hour to an hour or so (because the health canada website says 15 minutes) now I find out we should have vented for hours (Google, Maine cfl study), at that time we were still thinking that there is no way this is a big deal because we called poison control and they said and I quote “5 mg of mercury is not enough to harm anyone, but make sure you don’t throw the bulb in the regular garbage” well honestly, FU poison control

May 15, 2013 at 5:57 pm
(39) John says:

I called health Canada who referred me to their cleanup instructions. I called the local health unit who said and I quote “whats a cfl?” I called the Ontario health unit who referred me to someone else in my local heath unit who said that they dont do testing and to call a private company. Guess what? I did, at least 8 of them, they didnt do testing for mercury, one said that if I wanted that they could rent a vapor meter but they’d have to learn how to use it. What good is that? We threw all of our clothes away, and all their toys because I didnt know which ones were in the room at the time of breakage. The SCHER says they cant make a determination on whether or not this is a hazard for children because of hand to mouth actions of children and that they’ll eat mercury contaminated dust. Oh great, yet no warnings on packaging, no help when you break one, and no epidemiological studies on effects of this on children.
Honestly, everyone I’ve talked to thinks I’m way over worried. I’ve read every, yes every, study done on this subject, but at this point I can no longer tell how bad this is. It sounds really bad. If I read the side of a can of spray paint it sounds like if I spray it I’m an enclosed room that I’ll die. If I read the MSDS on gasoline it sounds as if the vapors and contamination will seriously damage my kidneys and CNS. So when there is NO warning on a product why or how would anyone know this? A google search? How many people are breaking these, vacuuming them up with their kids around, not venting, and letting there kids play with contaminated toys or sleeping on contaminated beds with contaminated
blankets. Seriously. This is scary as my math says that these can very well poison you.

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