Energy Saving Bulb Dangers–Fiction!
Summary of eRumor:
A viral email claims broken energy saving compact fluorescent (CFL) light bulbs contain mercury and shows gruesome images of feet that were allegedly exposed to mercury from a broken energy saving bulb.
This hoax has been circulating the Internet for years and was fueled when it was repeated in a training newsletter for a fire department.
A spokesperson for the Salisbury Fire Department in Maryland, where the eRumor and photos appeared in an April 2012 newsletter, told the TruthorFiction.com Team the story is false and has been retracted.
Some CFL light bulbs do, however, contain a small amount of mercury. The scientific journal Environmental Health Perspectives reported that CFL bulbs contain three to five milligrams of mercury — about one hundredth the amount found in older thermostats.
Such a small amount of mercury doesn’t pose much of a health risk, and an even smaller amount of mercury escapes from broken CFL bulbs.
Another scientific study that appeared in the journal Environmental Engineering Science found broken CFL bulbs release 0.04 to 0.7 milligrams of mercury. It would take weeks for that amount of mercury vapor to reach hazardous levels in a room.
Still, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) suggests that precautions be taken if a CFL bulb breaks. Central cooling or heating systems should be shut down, rooms should be ventilated for five to 10 minutes, and you should not use a vacuum to clean up the broken glass.