Are Energy Efficient Light Bulbs Safe?

July 9, 2008

SAVANNAH, Ga (WTOC) - You can find them just about anywhere now, compact florescent lights-also known as CFLS's.  They burn brighter, last longer, and are better for the environment.

Jim Johnson with Home Depot in Savannah said, "I've probably replaced every bulb in my house with CFL's."

"It's unbelievable the money you save by using them," said Grant Kennedy of Savannah.

Kennedy is looking for ways to save money and heard that CFL"s burn less energy, which in the end could lower his power bill.

He also knows there's mercury in them, but says he's not concerned. "I don't have any kids so I am not worried about dropping them or kids biting them. It doesn't really bother me," said Kennedy.

While it may not bother, it bothers some people that are concerned about having mercury in their homes.

"There is certainly some concern anytime you have mercury exposure," said Captain Matt Stanley with Savannah Fire, "With the recent exposures we've had there's sort of a heightened awareness in Savannah and the area."

But Captain Stanley says there's no need to be worry because there's only a very small amount of mercury in the CFL"s.  However, they can pose a danger if they break and aren't cleaned up properly.  For more information on mercury go to

"With mercury you don't want to sweep it or vacuum it, "said Stanley.

Instead Stanley says people need to use paper, a dust pan or index cards or tape.  "Roll the beads up.  You can use tape to pick up the beads."

And to make sure you got it all up you can take a flashlight and look across the beam to see if there are any beads yet.  Make sure you wear gloves, and put the spilled mercury in a plastic bag and seal it.

The other common question people ask is: What if a child breaks the bulb?

Stanley says there's no need to rush the child to the hospital. Simply take their clothes off and bathe them very well.  Take the contaminated clothes and throw them away, putting the clothes in a machine  could contaminate the machine.

And when the bulb burns out don't just throw it in the trash.  You will need to place it in a plastic bag or take it to Home Depot where they will recycle it for you.

You can also log onto to to find out more information about recycling.