JACKSON, Miss., July 6 (UPI) -- Mercury vapor released from broken compact fluorescent light bulbs can be higher than the amount considered safe for human exposure, U.S. researchers say.
Researchers at Jackson State University in Mississippi say once broken, such bulbs can continuously release mercury vapor into the air for weeks or even months, and the vapor can exceed safe exposure levels.
Since the amount of liquid mercury that can escape from a broken CFL bulb is lower than the level allowed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, CFLs are not considered hazardous waste by the agency.
But in a study published in the journal Environmental Engineering Science, Yadong Li and Li Jin say the vapor buildup in a poorly ventilated room can be dangerous.
The two tested eight different brands of CFL bulbs of various wattages and found the mercury content varied significantly from brand to brand.
They suggest rapid removal of broken CFLs as well as suitable packaging to minimize the risk of breakage of CFLs and to retain mercury vapor if they do break.