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Expert Warns Of Danger In Broken CFL Bulbs

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — As incandescent bulbs are phased out across America in favor of energy-saving compact fluorescents (CFL), a Philadelphia environment expert is warning of a potential danger in the bulbs — especially if they are accidentally broken.

ryan robert Expert Warns Of Danger In Broken CFL BulbsRobert Ryan (right), a professor of environmental engineering at Temple University, says you need to take special precautions if a CFL bulb breaks.

“Open up the windows,” Prof. Ryan advises.  “Leave the room for 15 to 20 minutes and let the room air out.  There will be a little bit of mercury that will vaporize.  Mercury is a toxin and you don’t want to breathe it in, but it is a very small amount of mercury,” he tells KYW Newsradio.

He says if a bulb breaks you should also turn off your central air or heat for about 20 minutes if you have a forced-air system.

Ryan says you don’t need to wear gloves for the cleanup if you air out the room because the mercury would have evaporated.  But you may want to wear gloves anyway, to avoid cut fingers from the broken glass.

What about disposing of CFL bulbs?

“Even if it is not broken, you should set the bulb aside and take it to a recycling center,” Ryan says.  “You don’t want to take these to a landfill — then you are letting the mercury become an uncontrolled source back out to the environment.”

Many retailers who sell CFL bulbs will take them back from you for proper disposal.

Reported by Michelle Durham, KYW Newsradio 1060.

  • Charmaine Hurst

    Why put people`s health in danger using these bulbs? I will stock on the incandescent light bulbs.Which the PUC says use much more energy.But why go thorugh all the trouble with the CFL ones? If you drop it on the floor and creaks and shatters ,you have to get out the room for 15-20 minutes and open a window.Then if you have forced heat you have to turn it off and wait until you clean it up.This so that the mercury will not circulate into the air.Then you take it bake to a store where you bought it from to have the disposed properly and recycled.How many people will follow this? IT IS JUST TOO MUCH TROUBLE FOR THESE CFL BULBS!!! PLUS THEY COST A LOT MORE!!! ARE LED LIGHT BETTER? MAYBE THE PUC NEED TO COMPARE THESE TYPE OF BULBS.THEY MAYBE SAFER!

  • Fabtique

    These bulbs are more expensive and dangerous.
    Run away from these. Stock up on incandescent bulbs!

  • bottomline

    Yes I played with mercury when I was a kid, and I collected mercury as an adult, but what do I know – maybe I‘m dead.
    However, playing the PC game – CFC bulbs use less energy. Luckily they weren’t used in that Kiddie Kollege, the former thermometer factory where traces of mercury may have still existed.

  • Guess Who

    Gee, and we used to play with mercury in chemistry class.

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