CFL’s release unsafe levels of mercury vapor


Those CFL’s, made in China by Barack Obama’s pal Jeffrey Immelt of GE (which made $14 billion and paid no taxes) and sold to Americans can emit unsafe levels of mercury if broken.

New Rochelle, NY, July, 6, 2011—Once broken, a compact fluorescent light bulb continuously releases mercury vapor into the air for weeks to months, and the total amount can exceed safe human exposure levels in a poorly ventilated room, according to study results reported in Environmental Engineering Science, a peer-reviewed online only journal published monthly by Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. ( The article is available free online at

The amount of liquid mercury (Hg) that leaches from a broken compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) is lower than the level allowed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), so CFLs are not considered hazardous waste. However, Yadong Li and Li Jin, Jackson State University (Jackson, MS) report that the total amount of Hg vapor released from a broken CFL over time can be higher than the amount considered safe for human exposure.

Maybe “going green” means what happens to people when they use these things….

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As a point of interest, the standard fluorescent lights we’ve all lived with in the kitchen, bath, school, factory, and office for years have a lot more mercury in them than CFLs. A 48 inch tube has around 10 times as much as a new CFL.

I’ve been buying CFLs designed for ceiling fan lights. The fluorescent tube is contained within an outer bulb resembling a conventional incandescent light. The design is for looks, but also makes it less likely that the part containing mercury vapor will be broken if the bulb is dropped.

Once again, we are imperiled by the overreach of our government.
See the EPA website for their directives for cleaning up a broken CFL. It is in effect a hazmat clean-up. Most importantly, check into the affects of Hg poisoning. Not a pretty picture. And btw, Hg doesn’t go any where once it is resident in the body. It sits and accumulates.
This is what our government mandates for us and our children’s well being.

very disturbing to learn, is in it

@Greg: Quick, how many of us are required to have the standard fluorescent lights in our houses by law? None of us! Maybe that is the difference Greg. The Democratic congress legislated us to mercury exposures in our homes.

I figure the increased risk of a slight mercury exposure at home is a fair trade off for a reduction in atmospheric mercury from coal-fired power plants. I can choose to handle CFLs carefully to avoid breaking them. I can’t choose not to breathe the outside air.

Opinions about government intrusion into the free market vary. My own opinion varies, depending on what they’re up to. Banning lead in house paint seemed totally rational to me. The same with banning asbestos from all sorts of common products. The EPA has recommended non-mercury medical thermometers in the home but didn’t ban them, even though those fragile little tubes can contain up to 3 grams of mercury–one thousand times the 3 milligrams you might find in an older CFL. I approved of the law that mandated seat belts in cars, but I hated the law that made the seat belt system automatic.

@Greg: There is a major difference in a PPB in the atmosphere and a PPM concentrations in your home. The old saying that “the dose makes the poison” is true in exposures. The body can handle low levels of exposures, but higher exposures cause the poison. The Democratic congress legislated poison because they have the same attitude as you.


Gee, a 40 watt equivalent for ”only” $14.99.
(Ace hardware has one for only $6.49.)
If you are willing to spend that for one bulb I can hook you up with some business cards for only $100 per hundred.

I’ve got a closet drawer filled with a variety of old fashioned light bulbs, even 100 watts and higher!
I doubt I spent more than $14.99 for the lot of them.

@Nan G, #9:

Gee, a 40 watt equivalent for ”only” $14.99.

Try Big Lots, where they’ll run you as low as $1.50 each. Or Kmart, if you’re feeling extravagant. Kmart sells 4o watt equivalents for about $4.00 each. I suppose it’s that free market thing in action.

Figure on your CFL lasting around 10,000 hours. If it burns out less than 2 years from purchase, the manufacturer is required to provide a free replacement. Your standard 40 watt bulb will last 750-1000 hours.

You really have to watch out about quality when you shop Big Lots.
There are electric extension cords with phony UL tags, for example.
They are great for paper towels, cleaning supplies and candles though.

@DrJohn, #7:

Great, if you like mold.

It’s probably preferable to central nervous system damage in children.

@Nan G, #11:

Yes, ma’am, you’re definitely right about the quality issues. Caveat emptor! It’s probably best to stick with name brand stuff there, unless you’re buying products that will reveal any defects to careful consumer inspection.

I have always thought that kids who find paint edible, already have nervous system damage.

Skookum, any kid who eats paint has a dimwit for a parent. Oh, that’s right, we can’t tell irresponsible people not to have children, it’s their “right” which then becomes our responsibility to support the little darlings.

Greg, if you are using 40 watt equivilant CFL bulbs, that would explain why you remain in the dark.