CFL Safety Concerns - No Fire Risk Here

There have been fears expressed in Canada that compact fluorescent (CFL) light bulbs might be a safety risk. Some users have voiced concerns about a possible fire hazard because of a small amount of melted plastic and smoke when the bulbs burn out.

One Change, a Canadian organization trying to urge people to switch to CFLs through Project Porchlight (which the Barenaked Ladies have promoted), is one of a few groups who've responded to the circulating misinformation. The group says although many people have just discovered and begun using CFL light bulbs, they've been around for over 20 years without problems and are tested to be safe.

The unusual way CFL light bulbs burn out

Some CFLs emit smoke when they burn out and the plastic at the bottom of the bulb may melt slightly. There can also be a bad smell. Project Porchlight provides a longer explanation courtesy National Geographic on their website.

Ontario's Electrical Safety Authority is issuing a warning over the concerns, letting users know that it's normal for the bulbs to extinguish in such a manner. The warning will also reiterate some do's and don'ts of using the carbon fluorescent light bulbs, such as installing them in open light fixtures due to the heat they produce.

Switching to CFLs from incandescents still a good idea

Since so many groups (including bulb manufacturers) have been pushing for the demise of the incandescent bulb in recent weeks and Australia has already committed to phasing them out, I think it's safe to say the alternatives they recommend are safe. I've been using CFLs for years and the only thing I've noticed is a delay in lighting up with some cheaper bulb brands and a lot less energy consumption.

2 comments
Posted by light bulbs on January 18,2010 at 10:29 PM

I've got plenty of these bulbs in my house and used them over ten years and never has a problem like this yet. doesn't mean it won't happen but so far so good

Posted by rubbish on June 21,2009 at 12:59 AM

we just had one go bad in my home today.  our light fixture is covered with black goop, the house still smells, and there are smoke marks on the ceiling.  

if you consider this an acceptable way for a light bulb to burn out, then i've got a bridge to sell you.  

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