Originally published March 25 2008
Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs May Be Hazardous to Your Health
by Jo Hartley
(NaturalNews) There is a congressional mandate in place banning sales of regular incandescent light bulbs by the year 2012. Recently however, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has warned that the use of compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) is not a safe product in many cases.
Breaking a CFL can cause serious health risks. They contain mercury. This is especially hazardous for small children and pregnant women. They also warn that these light bulbs should never be used over carpeted surfaces because in the event of breakage, the mercury could contaminate the carpet necessitating completely removing portions of the carpet to eliminate the mercury hazards.
The mercury is necessary in the light bulbs to produce the light and currently there is no other option to achieve this. Small amounts of mercury are vaporized upon breakage. It is even common to break a CFL when attempting to screw it into a socket if it is done incorrectly.
In a recently conducted study, researchers broke 65 CFLs. They then tested the air quality and clean-up methods. Their findings were that in many cases immediately after the break (and sometimes even after clean-up) the levels of mercury were as much as 100 times higher than federal guidelines for chronic exposure.
Mercury is a naturally occurring metal that can accumulate in the body. If this happens, serious damage to the central nervous system can occur.
The study concluded that if a CFL breaks, children and pets should immediately be removed from the room and the room should be completely ventilated. Vacuums should never be used to clean up a broken fluorescent light bulb. Alternately, stiff paper and tape should be utilized to clean up the small pieces.
CFLs can contain as much as 30 milligrams of mercury. A recent study has estimated that two to four tons of mercury is released into the air each year from these light bulbs.
Because of environmental pressure, compact fluorescent sales are soaring. Over 290 million light bulbs were sold last year, nearly twice the amount sold in 2006. Currently, CFLs make up 20 percent of the United States light bulb market and this number is guaranteed to increase due to the federal mandate banning all incandescent light bulbs starting in 2012.
Some states are now requiring consumers to dispose of compact fluorescents as household hazardous waste. Other states are now prohibiting their disposal in regular trash. Due to the recent studies, some states are beginning to release guidelines for the use of these light bulbs. Vermont is now suggesting that carpeting be removed where breakages have occurred when small children and pregnant women have been present. Massachusetts is also expected to recommend that CFLs not be used in fixtures where breakages are likely to occur and where sensitive people spend time.
About the authorJo Hartley
Wife, Mother of 8, and Grandmother of 2
Jo is a 41 year old home educator who has always gravitated toward a natural approach to life. She enjoys learning as much as possible about just about anything!
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