Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Danger of Energy Saving Bulb

(I received this article from one of my Prai MOSH’s students)

An energy saving bulb has gone - evacuate the room now!
By Martin Delgado, Daily Mail, UK

Danger: The new eco-friendly bulbs contain toxic mercury (above picture)

Energy-saving light bulbs are so dangerous that everyone must leave the room for at least 15 minutes if one falls to the floor and breaks, a Government department warned yesterday. The startling alert came as health experts also warned that toxic mercury inside the bulbs can aggravate a range of problems including migraines and dizziness. A leading dermatologist said tens of thousands of people with skin complaints will find it hard to tolerate being near the bulbs as they cause conditions such as eczema to flare up.

The Department for Environment warned shards of glass from broken bulbs should not be vacuumed up but instead swept away by someone wearing rubber gloves to protect them from the bulb's mercury content.

In addition, it said care should be taken not to inhale any dust and the broken pieces should be put in a sealed plastic bag for disposal at a council dump & not a normal household bin.

None of this advice, however, is printed on the packaging the new-style bulbs are sold in. There are also worries over how the bulbs will be disposed of.

Under new regulations for hazardous waste, councils are obliged to recycle them. At present, they should be placed in special bins also used for batteries at a council dump. But in future, councils will have to provide a collection service or install special recycling banks for the bulbs.

There are fears that without a proper disposal system, the mercury content could contaminate water supplies.

Independent environmental scientist Dr David Spurgeon warned yesterday: 'Because these light bulbs contain small amounts of mercury, they could cause a problem if disposed of in a normal bin.

'It is possible that the mercury could be released into the air or from land-fill when they are released into the wider environment. That is a concern, because mercury is a well-known toxic substance.'

And dermatologist Dr John Hawk, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that some people already find it difficult to tolerate the fluorescent-strip lighting that is widely used in schools and offices, which works in the same way as the eco-friendly bulbs. He said: 'Fluorescent lights seem to have some sort of ionising characteristic where they affect the air around them.

'This does affect a certain number of people, probably tens of thousands, in Britain , whose ailments flare up just by being close to them. Certain forms of eczema, some of which are very common, do flare up badly anywhere near fluorescent lights, so these people have to just be around incandescent (old-style) lighting.'


It's ironic that at a time when we can't get mercury thermometers any more we are now to have mercury light bulbs forced upon us. Inhaling hot mercury vapour from a smashed bulb is poisonous and can cause a lot of harm. Some people are very sensitive to mercury and even a tiny amount can cause them damage.
- Thalia, London

These are the light bulbs that are going to save the planet are they?
- A Seymour, Peterborough England

And they want us to use these?? I think I'd rather pay a higher electricity bill. I had no idea they contained mercury. First thing in the morning I shall remove all energy saving bulbs and replace them with a tungsten one...and then I'm going to start stockpiling!
- June, Prestwick, Ayrshire

So what's new? We've known this about fluorescent tubes for years. Oh, did Gordy boy and his highly paid advisors think that miniature tubes were different? Better back-track Gordy my boy if you don't want to pollute our planet!
- Mark R, Coventry UK

It is only a few months ago there was a story on the local news that manufacturers of mercury-based barometers were to be outlawed under european regulations banning the use of said mercury. So what is the government doing making these low energy bulbs compulsory?
- Michael, Norwich, Norfolk

I'm ditching mine and going back to normal ones, who stupid idea was this? They have to review this before something dreadful happens. We should all refuse to use them although I've been using them for some time and never felt so lousy.
- S Jones, England

Why does it have to be either good for saving energy, or good for the environment? Why can't we have our cake and it it too!
Back to the drawing board?
- Pattie, Canoga Park, California USA

Whowever created that sign at the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is a total idiot, they have put the symbol for radiation on it(mercury is not radioactive), rather than the biohazard symbol. Just goes to show they are still as incompetent as ever.
- Stephen, St. Ives

Em, how do you dispose of the mercury that will seep everywhere?
- Dorothy Quinlan, Angeles City Republic of the Philippines

Environmentally friendly? If the general public had been informed correctly about the use of mercury in these new bulbs, we would never have bought the rotten things. WHAT A STUPID IDEA TO USE MERCURY!

Next they will probably replace the mercury with uranium... or benzene... or asbestos... or....- Richard, Stevenage, England

Merely sweeping up the debris won't sweep up the mercury since it too dense to be swept. And if it spills on a wood or carpeted floor the mercury will fall into the cracks.

The mercury must be chemically reacted to form a non-toxic dust which can be vacuumed up. The vacuum cleaner must have a HEPA (High efficiency particulate arrestance] filer to trap any minute unreacted particles of mercury.

To have a mercury spill in a small room cleaned up professionally costs about $2000 in the USA.
- Ross, Hubbard Woods, Illinois, USA

People should stop buying them until they come up with safe ones.
- A Walker, Bradford

I said this the other day! These things are a hazard. We should all refuse to use them if they become a 'legal' requirement. I, for one, would never use them, they are a menace. How are elderly people (for example) going to cope with them. They should be banned, right now!

I'm glad the Daily Mail is at least making more people aware of the dangers of these things.
- Phred, UK

Don?t sound so enviromentally friendly to me.
- David, UK

How can it be environmentally friendly if mercury poisoning might occur? What happened to safety first? The old fashioned bulb would not need to have the room evacuated if it breaks. If this supposedly environmentally friendly bulb is not user friendly, then what is the POINT? The costs of using such a bulb is not economically or even environmentally viable to all the households in the country. The govt has shown itself to be fried...probably broke a few of these environmentally friendly bulbs in Parliament. The whole lot of them have totally become lame brained.
- Marianne, expat, Malaysia

Lighting is a very small part of the total electrical load. Banning incandescent lamps in favour of fluorescents will make very little difference. if people want to use fluorescent lamps let them, but don't ban incandescent lamps. it is intersting that when the USA, & Canada extended daylight saving period recently to save energy. no savings were attained.- Jim Brennand, Regina Canada

If this is all true - why then is this Government making these light bulbs a specific requirement for the issuing of a HIPPS certificate?
- Chris B, Yarm

This has always been the case with fluorescent tubes.
- Tony King, Prayssac, France

Can't be very good for the environment then, can they?
- Renee, Melbourne Australia

With the price of electricity about to go through the roof and these lightbulbs being hazardous I think I will go back to candles!
- Gill, Ramsgate, Kent

I can't come to candles

Plus too many commments to list.


Is truth that Fluorescent bulbs are dangerous for health and also contains a significant amount of mercury?

Member since: March 30, 2007
Total points: 13571 (Level 6)
Best Answer - Chosen by Asker

Yes - they are not healthy. A study in the 1980s showed that (unfortunately it isn't online). After the study, a school district in Canada decided to test it for themselves. The replaced all the fluorescent lighting with a more natural form light bulb. GPAs when up, absenteeism went down, even among the teachers. Full Spectrum Lighting is a better choice. It contains the spectrum the human body needs to function properly. See articles about it at

Also, YES, fluorescent has ALWAYS contained mercury, even the compact ones that Gore is trying to shove down our throats. They are a disposal nightmare - hazardous waste. They are not supposed to be put in regular garbage, but I have yet to see a recycling location for burnt out fluorescents. NEVER break a fluorescent when you dispose of it. Always save them and take them to a hazardous waste site. Better yet, don't buy them at all. Then we won't be contributing to the mercurization of the planet.

There are many other appropriate ways to save energy and the planet - try line drying your laundry for a much bigger energy savings than a compact fluorescent. Reduce the wattage in your fixtures from 60 - 45, that will make a big difference. Look into LED lighting. Turn off lights you aren't using! The people across the road from us have every light on 24/7. Our house rarely even looks like we are home after dark. Paint your walls a bright color, leave curtains and blinds open during the day. White, semi-gloss ceilings will reflect light so you don't need high wattage bulbs. Avoid dark cabinets and furniture. We used to live in what was akin to a cave when we bought our house. It is now, light, bright and rarely in need of a light turned on. There are better ways than putting mercury in our environment. Try them.

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