Tuesday, August 7, 2012

OSHA Publishes Tools on Mercury Exposure in Fluorescent Bulbs

When a fluorescent bulb breaks, mercury in the glass tube is released and mercury vapor enters the air. A small amount of liquid mercury that falls to the ground will continue to evaporate, forming a vapor. Breathing this vapor or skin contact with mercury create exposures. OSHA has published two new educational materials to help protect workers against mercury exposure in fluorescent bulbs:

  • A QuickCard alerts employers and workers to the hazards of mercury and provides information on the proper cleanup of broken fluorescent bulbs to minimize exposure.
  • A fact sheet  explains how workers can be exposed, types of engineering controls and PPE they need, and proper use of these controls and equipment.

As the fact sheet explains, health effects of mercury exposure depend on the exposure route, duration and level of exposure. Effects of mercury exposure can range from mild tremors, and impaired memory and coordination, to nausea, vomiting, difficulty breathing and severe tremors with exposure to higher levels of mercury.