Broken CFL Light Bulbs Pose a Threat

In most American homes, CFL (compact fluorescent lamp) light bulbs have replaced fluorescent lamp bulbs. These newer light bulbs, often spiral-shaped, produce the same amount of light as traditional light bulbs, but they last much longer and consume significantly less power. While CFL light bulbs are the more modern, “greener” choice when it comes to lighting our homes, it’s important that consumers become educated about the dangers posed by the mercury CFL light bulbs contain.

CFL light bulbs contain mercury, and when these light bulbs break they may release the toxic metal in either gas or liquid form. Mercury poisoning can cause a number of health threats ranging from minor to severe, including:

  • Skin discoloration
  • Tingling
  • Burning
  • Pain
  • Itching
  • Skin loss (desquamation)
  • Speech impairment
  • Vision impairment
  • Hearing impairment

Some individuals have suffered mercury poisoning after being cut by broken glass from a CFL light bulb. If you encounter a broken CFL light bulb, the EPA recommends taking the following precautions:

  • Make sure the light bulb is cool before handling it (if you react to a hot bulb by dropping it, the glass could shatter and increase the risk of mercury entering your system through a cut)
  • Get all people and pets out of the room
  • Air the room out for 5-10 minutes
  • DO NOT attempt to use a vacuum to clean up the broken glass (this could spread mercury or mercury vapor)
  • Wear protective gloves
  • Sweep up large debris into a dustpan with a broom or use stiff paper or cardboard to scoop up fragments and powder; tape may be used to pick up smaller pieces
  • Empty all debris into a plastic bag, then seal the bag
  • Check with your local government about the best way to dispose of broken light bulbs, which are legally considered hazardous material

While a broken light bulb may appear to be a minor nuisance, it can actually be a threat to your health and should be taken seriously. According to personal injury lawyer Melinda Helbock, individuals who have suffered mercury poisoning from broken light bulbs may beentitled to financial compensation. To learn more about broken light bulb product liability lawsuits, contact The Law Office of Melinda J. Helbock, A.P.C.

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