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What is in a CFL? CFLs contain a very small amount of mercury vapour (around 5 mg), which is approximately 100 times less than the amount of mercury in an oral thermometer and roughly the amount that would cover the tip of a pen. The white powder inside the bulb is a metallic compound called phosphor.
How do CFLs work? When a CFL is turned on, electricity causes the mercury vapour to produce short-wave ultraviolet (invisible) light, which then causes the phosphor to fluoresce and produce visible light. Mercury is the only element that is able to produce this effect. The mercury is not released as long as the lamp remains intact.
Is it toxic? When a CFL is broken, the mercury vapour is released into the air. A small amount of mercury may be left attached to the white phosphor powder. The amount of mercury in a CFL is not considered dangerous but the following is recommended to minimize exposure.
To clean-up a broken CFL:
How do I prevent breakage?
I'm looking for more detailed information about CFLs. Visit Natural Resources Canada website: https://www.nrcan.gc.ca/energy/products/reference/14664
Need more information? Call the Poison Control Centre.
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