Thursday, April 29, 2010

Are CFL bulbs dangerous?

CFL bulb from ipaa dot org slash Blog slash question mark p=301


(image courtesy of http://www.ipaa.org/Blog/?p=301)


There’s a lot of kerfluffle around the Interwebs lately about the supposedly dangerous levels of mercury released if you break a CFL light bulb.


I believe the most widely spread story crazy Internet rumor is about a woman in Maine who broke a CFL bulb in a bedroom, was quoted $2,000 for cleanup, and a month later that bedroom is still closed off with tape and plastic.


I did a little research, being the sort of library-law nerd that I am. Before I spring my findings on you, a question: how many times in your life have you broken a light bulb?** Me? Never. Not one broken light bulb in 22 years of living on my own. How about you?


On with the myth busting: The story above about the woman in Maine is only sort of true and blown way out of proportion.


The Maine resident did break a CFL bulb in her bedroom. The Maine Department of Environmental Protection says they told the woman that one option was to hire a HazMat team (at great expense, no doubt). How about that room being taped off for a month after the breakage? The homeowner did that herself.


Read the full report on Snopes.com <here>, which also includes links to the federal Department of Environmental Protection’s guidelines on handling broken CFL bulbs. In addition . . .




**If you’re old like me, you might remember when most thermometers contained mercury too. My Mom broke one once. We scooped up the mercury blobs on a piece of cardboard paper, put them inside a plastic bag, wrapped the bag in paper towels and tossed it in the trash. It was kind of fun to see the little blobs rolling around the linoleum. I actually touched one. And I’m not <very> crazy. Yet.


True, you shouldn’t lie down and roll around in the stuff, but you don’t need to panic and succumb to crazy internet rumors either.