A WKYC viewer recently posted on Facebook about a scary experience with her compact fluorescent lamp, or CFL, light bulb.
She said it began smoking and left a strange odor in her house.
It nearly started a fire.
So we wanted to verify if CFLs are more dangerous than other types of light bulbs.
While CFLs are four times more efficient and last ten times longer than the old incandescent bulbs, there are some concerns.
CFLs do contain mercury, about three to five milligrams.
But that’s a very small amount, about 1/100th of the amount in a mercury thermometer.
We consulted Lesley Matt with Technical Consumer Products, Inc. out of Aurora.
The company manufactures CFL and LED lights.
“There is a very small amount of mercury in CFL bulbs, so you just want to make sure that you keep yourself and your family safe,” Matt said.
The EPA has detailed guidelines for safe clean-up of broken CFL bulbs which includes having people and pets leave the room, airing out the space, and placing the pieces in a sealed container.
LEDs and incandescent bulbs have no such safety instructions.
Matt says it’s uncommon for CFLs to emit smoke and odor when they burn out, but it can happen.
“It’s nothing to really be alarmed about," he said. "You wait for it to cool down, unscrew the bulb and then dispose of it in the proper manner."
TCP and GE are both moving away from production of CFLs as demand for LEDs increases.
So, our original question was: are CFLs more dangerous than other types of light bulbs?
Yes, that is VERIFIED.
While not considered hazardous in general, there are risks and dangers associated with CFLs that are not involved with other types of bulbs.
Lesley Matt, TCP Inc.
Alicia Gauer, General Electric
United States Environmental Protection Agency
National Geographic Energy Blog