Fire hazard fears over CFLs

Fire hazard fears over compact fluorescent lamps – after they’ve stopped working
Last updated at 3:12 AM on
27th December 2011

Compact fluorescent lamps, which will gradually replace traditional incandescent bulbs, are a fire hazard that could burn down your home, experts have warned.

The lamps (CFLs) use electricity to heat an element in the lamp’s base that leads the mercury vapor gas in the coils to emit light.

But when a CFL can no longer produce light, the electronics in its base will still try to function, sometimes leading to overheating, smoke and fire.

Fires from the old incandescent bulbs, on the other hand, are virtually nonexistent, reports.

The bulb ends its life when the wire filament, which produces light when electricity passes through it, burns out and breaks.

CFLs have been touted as the bulb of the future because it uses about a fifth of the power than a regular bulb and have a life six to 10 times as great.

Traditional bulbs will gradually be phased out in the coming years.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission started an online complaints database in March.
So far there have been 34 complaints about CFLs emitting smoke or a burning odour and four reports of one actually catching fire.

Jennifer Mieth, Massachusetts’ Department of Fire Services spokesman, told ‘In 2008, the state fire marshal’s office office first alerted the fire chiefs that CFLs could smoke.

‘I’m not aware of any fires that fire departments in the state have responded to that were started by CFLs, but, as a consumer, it’s a good idea to be vigilant.’

In 2009, standards were revised for materials used in the plastic housing of the base of CFLs sold in North America. But millions are still in use that were produced before the change.

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Comments (17) Then closed to comments.

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This is somewhat wrong because it can happen to a working lamp and a brownout can also cause this to happen. I had one burn that was working fine and one that was working with normal light output that exploded with smoke because the voltage was low with the brownout. Never have one on if you are asleep or not home.
– John, Oxford USA, 27/12/2011 20:52

Makes perfect sense. I had noted discoloration at the base of several of these type bulbs. What I am waiting for in this utopian massage of humanities most miniscule aspects is the famine that awaits us near the end of the communist rainbow. That should be way more exciting than a popping CFL. Trade some of your gold for food and exercises in long range target practice. Burn Notice has some good survival tips built in to the plot too.
– Travis William, San Frantico, 27/12/2011 19:13

I can’t find any complaint link anywhere on the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission website. I have had a bulb explode and rain down glass put out fumes in my daughter’s bedroom!!!
– alemke, Sacramento, California, 27/12/2011 14:22

Maybe they’re trying to get rid of us. Mercury filled? No other options? It seems time to speak up.
– Rob, Stratford, Canada, 27/12/2011 13:33

I’m waiting until the LED replacements for the incandescent bulbs become cost-effective. I’ll skip this CFL fad.
– LED Zeppelin, Arizona, USA, 27/12/2011 13:24

OMG! That’s just what happened to us! My son was in his room, the light started smoking and sparking. Then all of a sudden the bulb part popped off and landed 4 feet away! He turned the light off, let the element cool off and then got the rest out. It was scary and now he doesn’t want anything but a traditional bulb.
– Julie, Jacksonville, Florida USA, 27/12/2011 12:23

We had a CFC in our home malfunction and get hot enough to start a fire. We were lucky in that I spotted it before any real harm was done. Of course as of January 1 in the USA, if you try to buy an Edison light bulb, you are labeled a terror suspect! 🙂
– Michael Rivero, Honolulu, USA, 27/12/2011 10:21

They MUST be good for Britain. Our partners in Europe dictate to us as such. Who the heck are we to disagree with them? Our partners in Europe don’t know the 1st thing about these bulbs, us, or how to produce yearly accounts the rest of us are legally enforced to. We sheep follow, as sheep will always follow, Utterly BLINDLY.
– John Taylor, Chesterfield, 27/12/2011 9:47

No one has been able to explain to me how bulbs made in China,containing harmful amounts of mercury, and transported to us, are environmentally friendly. When the contents of a broken light bulb are to dangerous to pick up in your home, how are they safe in landfill? Special recycling you say? So, more energy to dispose of our energy savers? Stockpiling standard bulbs as well. Hate that horrible light given off by CFL’s.
– Lisa, Albuquerque , 27/12/2011 8:54

Another great idea from the American gov; Someone got a BIG deposit in hie/her bank to push these stupid bulbs onto us. They are just junk!!!1 DON’T EVER BUY ANY OF THEM !!!!!1
– ONSLOW1066, LONDON, ENGLAND, 27/12/2011 8:46

I asked GE why thier CFL’s did not last anywhere near the 8,000 hours that they claim. The answer was, If you leave them on all the time and don’t turn them on and off, they will last 8,000 hours. Duh?
– John, Milwaukee USA, 27/12/2011 7:43

I usually leave one table lamp on when the kids and i go out at night so we don’t come home to total darkness. One night, while we were home, the compact fluorescent bulb popped and the lamp caught fire. Needless to say, I’m glad I was home at the time, or all may have been lost. I’m stockpiling my incandescent bulbs and not taking chances with the compact fluorescent bulbs ever again.
– Jaye, Maine, US, 27/12/2011 6:23

Made in China
– Matt, USA, 27/12/2011 5:59

I tried these bulbs. They are terrible. The burned out faster than regular bulbs. So now I have stock up with enough good bulbs to last about 30 years. Face it, any idea backed by environmentalist is a BAD idea.
– George, Rockville USA, 27/12/2011 4:08

But they must be safe and efficient because an office junior in a Brussels broom cupboard says so. And the stupid British governments have gone along with all the spin to make them almost the only lamp available to have in Britain.
– Taxpayer, Downtrodden England, 27/12/2011 4:02

The C.F.L’s contain a very hazardous material (HAZMAT) for which very special handling and disposal methods are required appears to be an irresponsibly downplayed oversight!!
– mike, woking, gb, 27/12/2011 2:31

The fact these lousy bulbs don’t give off nearly as much light and contain poisonous dust too, is omitted here. America, we have had these horrible, politically correct, glass mostrosities imposed upon us by EU diktat. Don’t go down that road.
– nonpc, Toytown.UK, 27/12/2011 0:45
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