1 broken bulb pushes contamination to 300 times EPA limits
Poisonous vapor so bad, researchers recommend families no longer use CFLs
Posted: August 11, 2008
9:55 pm Eastern
© 2008 WorldNetDaily
Compact fluorescent light bulbs have long been known to contain poisonous liquid mercury, but a study released earlier this year shows the level of mercury vapor released from broken bulbs skyrockets past accepted safety levels.
Following a story reported by WND last year about a Maine woman quoted $2,000 for cleaning up a broken fluorescent bulb (or CFL) in her home, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection studied the dangers of broken CFLs and the adequacy of recommended cleanup procedures.
The results were stunning: breaking a single compact fluorescent bulb on the floor can spike mercury vapor levels in a room – particularly at a child's height – to over 300 times the EPA's standard accepted safety level.
Furthermore, for days after a CFL has been broken, vacuuming or simply crawling across a carpeted floor where the bulb was broken can cause mercury vapor levels to shoot back upwards of 100 times what's considered safe.
Following the study, the Maine DEP made eight new recommendations for usage and cleanup of CFLs, including the recommendation to not even use the bulbs in carpeted rooms where children, infants, or pregnant women live. The likelihood of breakage, near impossibility of cleanup and risk of prolonged exposure, the study concluded, are just too great.
The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences website acknowledges that Brown University published a similar study last month confirming the Maine results: breaking a fluorescent bulb sends mercury vapor levels to unsafe levels for the elderly, pregnant and young – and those levels remain elevated for days.
The NIEHS website states, "Today’s CFLs underscore mercury's volatile vapor form, which is still a significant health concern – ventilation reduces but does not eliminate this toxicant. Mercury vapor inhalation can cause significant neural damage in developing fetuses and children."