Most homes today have CFL light bulbs that replace the previous fluorescent lamp bulbs of yesteryear. You are likely familiar with them – they are often spiral-shaped and can provide the same amount of light as previous bulbs but using less power and lasting much longer. While they are a better choice for almost all applications, it is important to know how to handle these bulbs.
The Potential Dangers of CFL Bulbs
CFL bulbs are greener and better in several other ways but they also have the potential to be dangerous. How? Because they contain mercury, a toxic metal. Whether it is in gas or liquid form, this mercury can be released when a CFL bulb is broken. This can result in serious health issues that can be minor or could be very serious.
Exposure to mercury can result in skin discoloration, itching, tingling, pain, burning, skin loss, hearing issues, vision issues, and speech impairment. These are potentially serious injuries that should be looked at by a medical professional as soon as possible after potential exposure to mercury.
What to Do if You Are in Contact with Broken Glass from a CFL Light Bulb
If you are cut by broken glass from a CFL light bulb, or come into contact with the bulb at all, the Environmental Protection Agency recommends that you follow a few specific precautions. First, they suggest that you ensure the bulb is cool before handling it. Why? Because if it is hot, you may drop it and this increases risk. Get all pets and people out of the room in which the bulb is located.
Then air out the room for at last ten minutes. Do you use a vacuum in an attempt to clean up the glass as this could spread mercury and/or its vapor. Put on a pair of protective gloves, sweep up the large debris into a dustpan with a broom, stiff paper, or cardboard. Get as much of the fragments and powder as you can. Use tape to pick up smaller pieces.
Next, put all the debris into a plastic bag and seal that bag. Check with your local city to find out how you can safely and legally dispose of broken lightbulbs. From a legal standpoint, they are hazardous materials and certain guidelines must be followed when getting rid of them.
Were You Required to Touch Broken CFL Bulbs at Work?
If you were required to touch a broken CFL bulb at work and suffered an injury, you are likely to be eligible for workers’ compensation. In some cases, you may be eligible to file a personal injury claim instead. Talk to a local attorney to find out what your best options are moving forward.