CFL Bulbs: An everyday hazard
CFL (or Compact Fluorescent) bulbs are now commonplace in most Australian households, however many Aussie families are still not aware of the potential health risks these fancy new bulbs bring with them.
Since the phase out of incandescent bulbs began in Australia in February 2009, supermarket shelves have been flooded with CFL bulbs as the ‘energy smart’ choice for home lighting. Consuming less than half the electricity as their incandescent counterparts, they appear (at least on the surface) to be a great alternative to the old style power hungry bulbs.
However, as many families are now discovering, these bulbs contain Mercury which is a highly toxic heavy metal which is especially dangerous for children & pregnant women. The bulbs are relatively ‘safe’ unless broken, which sadly is a common occurrence.
The Scientific American reports, when a bulb breaks, “Mercury escapes as vapor that can be inhaled and as a fine powder that can settle into carpet and other textiles. At least one case of mercury poisoning has been linked to fluorescents.”
Mercury is a “potent, developmental neurotoxin that can damage the brain, liver, kidneys and central nervous system,” according to wakeup-world.com. “Even at low levels, mercury is capable of causing a number of health problems including impair motor functioning, cognitive ability and emotional problems. Higher or prolonged exposure can result in much more serious health problems.”
If that wasn’t scary enough, CFL’s also emit ultra-violet rays which have been linked to many health issues including cancer. The Australian Government’s Climate Change website even has a page dedicated to ‘minimising the ultra-violet light exposure’ from CFL bulbs.
“Sitting close to a compact fluorescent lamp (CFL), or halogen lamp, and being able to see the exposed light bulb means that some UV radiation will be received from the lamp,” explains the Government site.
With so many dangers lurking right above our heads we are confronted with two big questions:
- Why weren’t we warned about these dangers; and
- What other alternatives are there.
Perhaps the government were not aware of the health risks when they forced these bulbs into the homes of Aussie families, or perhaps they were hoping we wouldn’t find out. Perhaps we’ll never know.
Fortunately there is an alternative that not only eliminates ALL of these health risks but it is also twice as energy efficient as the supposed ‘energy smart’ CFL bulbs.
LED bulbs are by far the best choice for homes & businesses and are completely safe & non-toxic. Although you’ll pay more for an LED bulb they are designed to last anywhere from 10 to 30+ years depending on your usage so the value far outweighs the investment.
Australia’s leading LED supplier is Eco Wise LED, a QLD company that is passionate about helping Aussie families eliminate dangerous CFL bulbs from their homes and offer a range of high quality LED bulbs for home or business use.
Eco Wise LED are offering a no obligation FREE home or business assessment – contact Eco Wise LED to book yours today.
In the case of a broken CFL in your home, you should immediately open any doors & windows. As Jim Berlow, director of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Hazardous Waste Minimization and Management Division recommends:
“Get all the people and pets out of the room for 15 minutes and let the room air out. If you have a central heating system or an HVAC [heating, ventilating and air-conditioning] system, you don’t want it sucking the fumes around, so shut that down.”
“The important thing is not to touch the heavy metal. After airing out the room, the larger pieces of the bulb should be scooped off hard surfaces with stiff paper or cardboard or picked up off carpeted surfaces with gloves to avoid contact. Use sticky tape or duct tape to pick up smaller fragments; then, on hard surfaces, wipe down the area with a damp paper towel or a wet wipe. All materials should be placed in a sealable plastic bag or, even better, in a glass jar with a metal lid.”
“If it gets in the jar, that’s pretty good containment,” Berlow states. “We’ve found that the plastic bags actually don’t contain any mercury fumes, so absolutely, if you’ve got the plastic bag, get it outside when you’re done.” Vacuums or brooms should generally be avoided, as they can spread mercury to other parts of the house.