Occupational Health & Safety/cfl bulb


A week or so ago one of these bulbs broke in my hand while I was taking it out of a reading lamp. I did what anyone would do and placed it in the garbage.
I just read an article about the dangers of these bulbs when broken and now I am getting paranoid!
This occured downstairs where there is not much ventilation, and the broken bulb stayed in a can a few feet from my head for several days. It is cold in this part of Canada where I live and the house is sealed well for drafts.
Coincidently, in the last couple of days I have been feeling run down and tired-cant figure out why.
My kids think i am crazy but I just opened the downstairs window-now it freezing- and turned off the furnace.
Am I over-reacting?

I empathize with you situation...Here are some documented precautions that should be followed in the event of a broken CFL bulb, based on the recommendation of the US Environmental Protection Agency...   http://www.epa.gov/cfl/
And from Health Canada...

Based on your description, I am not in a position to determine your level of risk.  The link I've provided gives instruction on what to do in cases like you've described.  Additionally, you may want to contact the bulb manufacturer for additional instructions.  

To truly determine if mercury vapor is present in your home requires the use of specialized detection equipment, most commonly, a Jerome Meter.  Here in the US in the county where I live, if you call emergency services, they may request a Hazmat team to respond with such a meter, who could better determine a course of action (for example, removing the carpet).  One could also contact an Industrial Hygiene professional or Environmental Lab to perform such an analysis.  You'd have to check, but your homeowner's insurance may cover this kind of service.

You may also want to check with a physician with regard to your health concerns.  Mercury is a neurotoxin...http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/hl-vs/iyh-vsv/environ/merc-eng.php

Hope you find this information useful.
I hope you find this information useful.

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Jacob Schock


Occupational health, risk & exposure assessment, incident investigation. Health effects of chemicals


14 years in occupational health & industrial hygiene

American Industrial Hygiene Association, American Society of Safety Engineers

BS- Health Sciences, MS- Environmental Health

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