Here is an informative article from the Boston Globe, warning of mercury leaks in broken in Compact Fluorescent Lightbulbs (CFL’s). I had no idea these bulbs had mercury in them, and when broken can pose a risk of mercury poisoning especially to infants, small children, and pregnant women. Mercury is a neurotoxin, which can damage the nervous system in adults, children, infants, and unborn babies.
There were two reports done and in one of the studies, “researchers shattered 65 compact fluorescents to test air quality and cleanup methods. They found that, in many cases, immediately after the bulb was broken – and sometimes even after a cleanup was attempted – levels of mercury vapor exceeded federal guidelines for chronic exposure by as much as 100 times.”
“The study recommended that if a compact fluorescent breaks, get children and pets out of the room. Ventilate the room. Never use a vacuum, even on a rug, to clean up a broken compact fluorescent lamps. Instead, use stiff paper such as index cards and tape to pick up pieces, and then wipe the area with a wet wipe or damp paper towel. If there are young children or pregnant woman in the house, consider cutting out the piece of carpet where the lamp broke as a precaution. Place the shards and cleanup debris in a glass jar with a screw top and remove the jar from the house.”
Hopefully we will never have a broken CFL, but I think the fact that CFL’s have mercury in them, and they can pose health risk if broken, should be publicized more. I don’t think anyone wants to put their child (or unborn child), or themselves at risk for exposure to mercury by accidentally handling a broken CFL or by leaving the area where it broke un-treated.
As the story says, hopefully they will develop a mercury free CFL in the future so we can reduce greenhouse emissions, and keep our children safe from possible mercury exposure.