Did you know that you may have a potential source of mercury toxicity in every room of your home?
Compact Fluorescent Light bulbs (CFLs) gained popularity in the late 1990’s-2000’s in many households due to their relative energy efficiency- compared to the regular incandescent light bulbs, and their relative inexpensiveness as government subsidies lowered the cost of production.
CFLs (and regular fluorescent lights) contain mercury vapour within the glass tubing, which will be released if the tubing breaks. The amount of mercury contained is anywhere from 1-5mg, depending on the bulb. While this may not seem like very much, mercury has been shown to cause toxicity in small amounts.
Things to consider when handling CFL or fluorescent bulbs:
- CFLs must be disposed of safely and properly, NOT with the rest of your trash. Keep the original box for storage and transport and take them to a designated recycling or hazardous waste collection site. Your municipal government may also be able to direct you to appropriate collection sites.
- Cleaning up a broken bulb must be done carefully and thoroughly to reduce the risk of exposure to mercury vapours. It’s not as easy as just sweeping up the broken glass and tipping it into the trash can.
Here are instructions from the US Environmental Protections Agency (EPA), on how to safely clean up a broken CFL bulb HERE
If you want to start phasing out CFLs in your home, you can try the following options:
- Setting up your space to try to maximize natural light throughout the day
- LED light bulbs
- Incandescent light bulbs
Acute mercury toxicity includes mood changes such as irritability, anxiety, depression, memory problems and tremors.
Mercury toxicity that occurs over time will not be as noticeable.
If you are interested in assessing possible mercury exposures and detoxification, or have further questions, please send me an email and we can arrange a discussion, or speak to a health care provider who is well-versed in Environmental Medicine assessments.