Safety Tip - Fire Hazard CFL Light Bulbs

CFL Light Bulb Fire HazardWith all the emphasis on conserving energy, many families and offices are routinely replacing light bulbs with CFL light bulbs.

To the left is a picture of a CFL light bulb from an ordinary bathroom.  The other day it was turned on and then the smell of smoke began after a few minutes.  Suddenly, four inch flames started spewing out of the side of the ballast like a blow torch!  Immediately the lights were turned off and it would have definitely caused a fire if action was not immediately taken. Imagine if the kids had left the lights on as usual when they were not in the room.

The CFL light bulb was taken to the Fire Department to report the incident. The Fireman wasn't at all surprised and said that it was not an uncommon occurrence. Apparently, sometimes when the bulb burns out there is a chance that the ballast can start a fire and the Fire Marshall had issued reports about the dangers of these bulbs.

Upon doing some Internet research, it seems that bulbs made by “Globe” in China seem to have the lion’s share of problems. Lots of fires have been blamed on misuse of CFL bulbs, like using them in recessed lighting, pot lights, dimmers or in track lighting. This one was installed in a normal light socket and purchases at Wal-Mart. If you have CFL light bulbs made by Globe then, please take a moment and remove these potentially dangerous bulbs from your home or office.

But this isn't the only bad news about these energy saving miracles.  T.S. Wiley notes, "According to the Israeli daily Haaretz, Health Ministry officials in Israel warn the public that CFLs may cause skin cancer.

Emitting UV rays similar to that of the sun, a British study about a year ago said that the CFLs under certain conditions emit more than the recommended allowance of UV radiation. While the British Health Protection Agency, which wrote the position paper, did say that people should not ban the bulbs entirely from their homes. It will be interesting to see how the Israeli public responds to the news. According to the British study, the amount of radiation emitted onto a surface 2 cm away is the same emitted by the sun on a hot summer’s day.

The new Israeli recommendations tells people not to use the CFLs as a main source of lighting for a desk, and the bulbs should not be used at distances closer to 30 centimeters from the room’s occupants."

Wiley further notes, "There is controversy over whether the electromagnetic fields (EMF) from CFL's constitute a health risk. Although the position of most international health authorities, including the World Health Organization, is that this form of energy is benign as long as levels remain below guidelines, an increasing number of scientific studies report biological and health effects associated with electromagnetic pollution well below these guidelines (Sage and Carpenter, 2007). Epidemiological studies have documented increased risks for childhood leukemia associated with residential magnetic fields exposure (Ahlbom et al., 2000), greater risk for various cancers with occupational exposure to low-frequency electric and magnetic fields (Havas, 2000), miscarriages (Li et al., 2002), Lou Gehrig's disease (Neutra et al., 2002), brain tumors associated with cell phone use (Kundi et al., 2004), as well as cancers and symptoms of electrical hypersensitivity (EHS) for people living near cell phone and broadcast antennas (Altpeter et al., 1995; Michelozzi et al., 2002). Laboratory studies report increased proliferation of human breast cancer cells (Liburdy et al., 1993), single- and double-strand DNA breaks (Lai and Singh, 2005), increased permeability of the blood brain barrier (Royal Society of Canada, 1999), changes in calcium flux (Blackman et al., 1985), and changes in ornithine decarboxylase activity (Salford et al., 1994)."