Do CFL bulbs leak mercury?

Asked By: Vinod Ruttloff | Last Updated: 26th January, 2020
Category: automotive motorcycles
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Compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) use dramatically less energy than incandescent bulbs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. But they also contain mercury – a dangerous toxin. The amount of mercury in a CFL is very small, only 4-5 milligrams.

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Likewise, do CFL bulbs have mercury?

Compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) use 75 percent less energy than traditional incandescent bulbs and last about six times longer, but it's no secret that CFLs contain a small amount of mercury (about 4 milligrams per bulb on average). So, just how dangerous is a broken CFL?

Furthermore, are CFL light bulbs dangerous? CFL bulbs are dangerous because of ultraviolet radiation leakage. Two readers pointed with alarm to a 2012 study by Stony Brook University researchers, which found that most CFL bulbs have defects that allow UV radiation to leak at levels that could damage skin cells if a person is directly exposed at close range.

In this manner, how much mercury is in a CFL bulb?

An average of 4 milligrams (mg) of mercury is in a CFL. A mercury thermometer may contain about 500 mg of mercury. About 500 mg to 700 mg or less of mercury is considered a small spill. Some CFLs may contain as little as 1.4 mg to 2.5 mg per light bulb.

Do LED light bulbs have mercury?

LED lights do not contain even the slightest trace of mercury, which makes them the safest alternative when it comes to lighting an office or home. Some of the following light bulbs do contain mercury, and special care should be taken when handling them.

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Can you get mercury poisoning from a broken CFL bulb?

In short, the exposure from breaking a compact fluorescent bulb is in about the same range as the exposure from eating a can or two of tuna fish. The tiny amount of mercury you're exposed to when breaking a CFL is extremely unlikely to cause any ill effects, noticeable or otherwise.

What does Mercury smell like?

Mercury is a shiny, silvery liquid metal that can cause serious health problems. Liquid mercury vaporizes (evaporates) at room temperature causing elevated levels of mercury in indoor air. Mercury vapor is not irritating and has no odor, so people do not know when they are breathing it.

What does mercury do to your body?

Health effects of mercury exposure
The inhalation of mercury vapour can produce harmful effects on the nervous, digestive and immune systems, lungs and kidneys, and may be fatal. The inorganic salts of mercury are corrosive to the skin, eyes and gastrointestinal tract, and may induce kidney toxicity if ingested.

What happens if you touch mercury?

Mercury is a very toxic or poisonous substance that people can be exposed to in several ways. If it is swallowed, like from a broken thermometer, it mostly passes through your body and very little is absorbed. If you touch it, a small amount may pass through your skin, but not usually enough to harm you.

Does mercury vapor go away?


Outdoors, mercury vapors tend to go away quickly, but indoors (particularly with windows closed), mercury vapors will accumulate in the air. People can absorb metallic mercury into their bodies when they breathe the vapors.

How do you dispose of CFL light bulbs?

The EPA recommends that you bring old CFLs to qualified recyclers, rather than disposing of them in trash cans or curbside recycling bins. You can bring old CFLs to The Home Depot for free recycling. Visit the Eco Options website to learn more. If you're concerned about the mercury content in CFLs, consider LED bulbs.

Are LED bulbs dangerous when broken?

LEDs contain hazardous substances. LED bulbs do not contain mercury, like CFLs or other fluorescents, that leak all over the place when the glass tube is broken. However, the phosphors used in LED bulbs are bound up in the semiconductor material. If any of them are hazardous, they can't leak.

How dangerous is mercury in light bulbs?

Mercury is essential to a fluorescent bulb's ability to emit light; no other element has proved as efficient. As effective as it is at enabling white light, however, mercury—sometimes called quicksilver—is also highly toxic. It is especially harmful to the brains of both fetuses and children.

Are fluorescent lights bad for you when they break?

Reports say mercury can be safely cleaned up
It's true that CFL bulbs do contain a small amount of mercury, sealed within the glass tubing, and it can be released as vapor after a breakage. See also: 18 ways to save on your utility costs. Mercury levels inside fluorescent bulbs are quite low.

Is the white powder in light bulbs dangerous?


Broken fluorescent tubes and compact fluorescent bulbs DO contain mercury, a toxic metal. Follow the EPA's guidelines for a safe clean up. Next, put all the broken glass, white powder from the tube, and the paper towel you wiped the area with, in a ziplock bag or sealed container.

Why is mercury used in CFL?

Mercury, an essential part of CFLs, allows a bulb to be an efficient light source. No mercury is released when the bulbs are intact (i.e., not broken) or in use, but mercury vapor and very small beads of mercury can be released when a CFL is broken.

What do you do if a mercury light bulb breaks?

How to clean up a broken CFL bulb
  1. Step one: Air out the area. As soon as that bulb breaks, you'll want to let the room air out for about 15 minutes.
  2. Step two: Find a sealable container.
  3. Step three: Pick up the pieces.
  4. Step four: Wipe the floor clean.
  5. Step five: Let the room air out for another few hours.
  6. Step six: Dispose of the broken bulb.

What do you do if you break a mercury light bulb?

Open any windows, leave the room without stepping into the shattered bulb, and close the door. Stay out of the room for at least 15 minutes. Turn off the heat or air conditioning so that any mercury vapor is not circulated. Do not use a vacuum or broom to clean up the pieces.

Where is mercury in light bulb?

CFLs and the other light bulbs listed above contain a small amount of mercury sealed within the glass tubing. When a bulb breaks in your home, some of this mercury may be released as mercury vapor.

How much mercury is dangerous?


Mercury can be toxic in certain situations. Most oral and rectal thermometers contain about 0.5-0.6 grams of mercury. Mercury is not absorbed through intact skin or from a healthy digestive tract in amounts that would cause toxic effects.

What do you do if a light bulb breaks into a socket?

First, make sure the light switch is turned off. Use gloves, eye protection and a pair of pliers to break away any remaining glass. Cut the potato in half, firmly press it against the socket and begin twisting counter-clockwise. The potato should grip the base of the bulb and turn it while the socket remains still.

Will CFL bulbs be phased out?

Monday morning, General Electric announced it will phase out the sale of compact fluorescent lightbulbs, the standard inexpensive option for the environmentally conscious. Instead, the company will give prominence to the LED, or light-emitting diode, bulbs – a better quality and more energy-efficient cousin of the CFL.