Compact Fluorescent Bulbs, do you know the risk?
There was a story in the Toronto Sun the other day about Compact Fluorescent Lightbulbs (CFL’s). Now this story comes months after I saw a documentary on them about how unsafe they were. During this documentary the bulb makers and health agencies all denied that there were any risks involved with using these CFL’s. Well finally Health Canada has admitted that there are risks from using them, although they downplay them and say that the energy efficiency benefits outweigh the risks, which they may well except for one thing….most of the millions of people who have these bulbs in their homes have no idea there are any risks!
For those who don’t know here are some of the steps you should take if one of these bulbs breaks in your home:
- Quickly leave and ventilate the room in question for 15 minutes
- Avoid using a vacuum or broom lest you spread contamination
- Wear disposable gloves during cleanup
- Place broken material in a sealed glass container
- Remove rugs and air them and do not place the waste in the household trash
Sounds perfectly safe to me! All these steps are necessary because each of these bulbs contain a tiny daub of mercury. Oh and these are just some of the steps that you should take in the event of breaking a bulb, there are actually almost 2 pages of cleanup instructions in Health Canada’s “It’s Your Health” newsletter!
Now putting aside the risks of mercury, there is also the question of UV exposure, which they say isn’t hazardous to most people. However “some people are extremely sensitive to UV and may be affected by the amount of UV produced”, such as people with Lupus, other autoimmune diseases or sensitive skin. I’m pretty sure there aren’t too many people who have sensitive skin……are there?
So after many, many, many millions of these bulbs have been sold Health Canada has decided that maybe they better do some tests on them to see if they are safe. I’m no expert but testing seems to be something that should be done before a product is brought into the market, not after that very product is in millions of homes. Not to mention that several countries have already moved to ban traditional incandescent bulbs by 2012.
Here is a link to a story from CBC Montreal which talks about what is wrong with CFL’s, some of the clean up steps and perhaps most importantly, it asks if there is an energy efficient but safe alternative? Well what do you know there is….
Here is the original article I referenced from the Toronto Sun.
I’d love to link to the CBC story I saw about 6 months ago (Market Place I think) but I can’t seem to find it…