While a lot of people these days opt for energy saving light bulbs they aren’t as safe as you might think. Compact Fluorescent Bulbs or CFLs do last longer, but they also come with a lot of potential risks.
Like most other glass products lightbulbs do break sometimes and when a CFL breaks it is different from when a normal bulb breaks. CFLs for those who do not know contain mercury and should be disposed of in a specific manner. Before we get into what dangers might come with using CFLs let’s go over how to properly clean them up in case you’re already using them.
If a CFL bulb breaks the EPA says you should do the following:
Have people and pets leave the room.
Air out the room for 5-10 minutes by opening a window or door to the outdoor environment.
Shut off the central forced air heating/air-conditioning system, if you have one.
Collect materials needed to clean up broken bulb:
stiff paper or cardboard;
damp paper towels or disposable wet wipes (for hard surfaces); and
a glass jar with a metal lid or a sealable plastic bag.
DO NOT VACUUM. Vacuuming is not recommended unless broken glass remains after all other cleanup steps have been taken. Vacuuming could spread mercury-containing powder or mercury vapor.
Be thorough in collecting broken glass and visible powder. Scoop up glass fragments and powder using stiff paper or cardboard. Use sticky tape, such as duct tape, to pick up any remaining small glass fragments and powder. Place the used tape in the glass jar or plastic bag. See the detailed cleanup instructions for more information, and for differences in cleaning up hard surfaces versus carpeting or rugs.
Place cleanup materials in a sealable container.
Promptly place all bulb debris and cleanup materials, including vacuum cleaner bags, outdoors in a trash container or protected area until materials can be disposed of. Avoid leaving any bulb fragments or cleanup materials indoors.
Next, check with your local government about disposal requirements in your area, because some localities require fluorescent bulbs (broken or unbroken) be taken to a local recycling center. If there is no such requirement in your area, you can dispose of the materials with your household trash.
If practical, continue to air out the room where the bulb was broken and leave the heating/air conditioning system shut off for several hours.
On average these bulbs contain about five milligrams of mercury and for those who might not be aware mercury is a neurotoxin. When these bulbs break they are releasing that mercury into your home. This mercury doesn’t just go away, it can be left in your air for weeks at a time. When using these bulbs we are also putting ourselves at risk for UV radiation.
One study actually even shows that these bulbs could be increasing people’s risks of breast cancer. The Telegraph reported as follows in regards:
Abraham Haim, a professor of biology at Haifa University in Israel, said that the bluer light that compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) emitted closely mimicked daylight, disrupting the body’s production of the hormone melatonin more than older-style filament bulbs, which cast a yellower light.
Melatonin, thought to protect against some breast and prostate cancers, is produced and secreted by the brain’s pineal gland around the clock.
Highest secretion levels are at night but light depresses production, even if one’s eyes are shut.
A possible link between nighttime light exposure and breast cancer risk has been known for over a decade since a study was published showing female shift workers were more likely to develop the disease.
Prof Haim explained that a recent study by himself and fellow colleagues had found a much stronger association than previous research between night-time bedroom light levels and breast cancer rates.
The EU actually says we should be limiting our exposure to these kinds of bulbs and a lot of people claim that they cause headaches, nausea, and even migraines. Sure, they last longer but are they really worth it? To learn more about the dangers of these kinds of bulbs check out the video below. Perhaps going back to normal light bulbs would be the right choice for you and your household.