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iScizoX2's avatar

Broke a fluorescent bulb, will i get mercury poison?

Asked by iScizoX2 (21 points ) December 1st, 2010

it’s the bulb that has twisted, swirled glass on it, hard to explain how it looks. used for reading lamps most of the time. when i walked in my room i saw it broken, i just left it there for days, until my dad told me its hazardous, he told me it releases mercury vapor and if alot is inhaled it can cause many symptoms, i’m a bit frightened, will i get a disease..? it wasnt a huge bulb or anything. i think i inhaled the whole thing because i was in my room all the time. oh god.

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11 Answers

ZAGWRITER's avatar

First thing: Relax. Second: You are fine. This was an issue with a former co-worker of mine who always cried like a baby when these things came in on a pallet broken. My boss, in order to shut him up, called the company and had them fax over some data. In essence, you would have to work in a factory that broke these things for a long time to get poisoning. It was something like 10 years. Without using protection. You would also have to eat the dust from inside the bulb to get poisoning right away. You’re fine.

coffeenut's avatar

Looks like This? if so than you will be fine, there isn’t enough mercury to do any serious damage or any at all with such limited exposure.

fundevogel's avatar

Like others have said there probably wasn’t enough in the bulb to cause you problems. Just make sure you properly expose of the bulb and ventilate the room. There are really detailed directions about how to clean up and dispose of broken bulbs here.

snowberry's avatar

And don’t ever pick up anything with mercury with a vacuum cleaner.

tedd's avatar

No. You need significant exposure to mercury before it will harm you. They used to use it to clean felt hats, and in chemistry labs in the early half of the last century you could touch it without gloves. The only ones who would go insane are those with prolonged exposure to high concentrations. Thats why hatters earned the nick name “Mad as a hatter” because some of them would go nuts after years of working in the industry and cleaning hats with mercury.

The infinitesimal amount of mercury in that light bulb will not hurt you.

snowberry's avatar

Respectfully disagree, @tedd. Not everyone buys that line of reasoning.

tedd's avatar

@snowberry I work in an analytical chemistry lab. I have worked or studied in chemistry for the past 6 years, and have personally handled mercury. I’m not suggesting you purposely break light bulbs and inhale, or eat mercury raw… But accidentally breaking a bulb and being exposed to it is not going to hurt you, save for possibly cutting yourself on the glass.

The FDA would never allow us to use them if they were THAT dangerous. Believe it or not that government agency is incredibly good at thoroughly studying things before letting them hit the US market.

coffeenut's avatar

@tedd I agree with you 100% the amount of mercury in a CFLs bulb contain like 3–5 mg and the eco-friendly bulbs containing as little as 1 mg…..

or you could get LED bulbs if your worried of this happening again,

personally these stupid CFLs break all the time in my apartment, I don’t really care, I just clean it up and get a new one.

snowberry's avatar

Ah, yes, the All Knowing, Ever Beneficent Members of the FDA, who have proven they can be bought for the right price.

tedd's avatar

@snowberry Having relatives that work very heavily with the FDA, I can tell you they have kept countless products that cause sickness, injury, and even cancer, off of our shelves and out of our hospitals.. Products that in many cases were rushed into use elsewhere in the world, and later had to be pulled from hurting and killing people. I’m sorry to say but you don’t know what you’re talking about.

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