Danger of touching a broken fluorescent bulb?

In summary, the speaker disposed of old CFLs at IKEA and noticed a stack of long fluorescent bulbs. One of them had its end broken off, causing concern about potential contact with mercury. However, it is unlikely to have any significant impact, and washing hands is recommended.
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I was disposing of some old CFLs at IKEA this morning. They have a few bins there for safe disposals. I am already insanely paranoid of breaking CFLs in the first place, so I took great caution placing mine gently into the bins. I spent a few minutes making the pile secure so they wouldn't fall over or break if someone else just threw some on top with force. I noticed that there was a stack of very long fluorescent bulbs that you would see often in offices stacked lengthwise. One of them had its end broken off.

I'm pretty sure my arm probably at least grazed against the broken end. My index finger is also feeling tingly so I'm paranoid it somehow also cut me. These long fluorescent bulbs are sort of a mystery to me. They don't seem to be considered as hazardous as CFLs, but they still contain mercury no? Is it it a big deal that I've physically contacted the broken end of it? Does the mercury in these evaporate, or stick to the inside/sides of the glass? I also have a habit of biting my nails so I'm extra worried I've ingested whatever I may have touched.
 
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  • #2
In absolutely worst case amounts of mercury you were in contact with are completely negligible.
 
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Likes Tom.G, dlgoff, CWatters and 1 other person
  • #3
Wash hands. Job done.
 
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Likes Wrichik Basu
  • #4
Most likely you would take more mercury from a decent dose of tuna dish.
 

1. What are the potential dangers of touching a broken fluorescent bulb?

There are two main dangers associated with touching a broken fluorescent bulb: cuts from the sharp glass pieces and exposure to mercury vapor. The glass shards can cause cuts or punctures, while the mercury vapor can be harmful if inhaled or ingested.

2. How does mercury exposure from a broken fluorescent bulb occur?

Mercury exposure can occur through direct contact with the skin or by breathing in the vapor released from the broken bulb. Ingestion can also occur if someone touches the broken bulb and then puts their hands in their mouth.

3. What are the symptoms of mercury exposure from a broken fluorescent bulb?

Symptoms of mercury exposure can include skin irritation, difficulty breathing, coughing, chest pain, and nausea. In severe cases, it can also lead to neurological symptoms such as tremors and memory loss.

4. How can I safely clean up a broken fluorescent bulb?

To safely clean up a broken fluorescent bulb, wear protective gloves and use a damp paper towel or disposable cloth to carefully pick up any glass pieces. Place the broken pieces in a sealed container and wipe the area with a damp cloth. Dispose of all materials properly, following your local guidelines for hazardous waste disposal.

5. What precautions should I take when handling a fluorescent bulb?

To minimize the risk of injury or exposure to mercury, always handle fluorescent bulbs with care. Avoid breaking them, and if one does break, follow proper cleanup procedures. It is also recommended to use gloves when handling fluorescent bulbs and to properly dispose of them when they are no longer in use.

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