Winnipegger Kathy Crichton is raising concerns over the way one of her compact fluorescent bulbs burned out.

"It went from crackling to smoking. There was smoke coming out of it and from this part of the bulb, the base part, you could see fire inside," Crichton said.

Now, the 23-watt compact fluorescent (CFL) bulb is visibly burned at the base. Crichton called Globe Electric, the company that makes the bulb.

"He said ‘everything that happened was normal,'" Crichton says. "He said, ‘We've never had a fire.'"

However, in 2005, some mini-spiral CFL bulbs made by Globe Electric did catch on fire. They were recalled. Even though Crichton's bulb doesn't appear to be one of the recalled batch, she still wants to get it tested. Globe Electric told her to send it the bulb.

If consumers aren't comfortable sending a product back to a company, they can also contact Health Canada.

The Globe Electric company didn't return CTV's call or email about Crichton's incident.

Officials with Manitoba Hydro said CFL bulbs can make a popping sound, emit smoke or become discoloured when they burn out.

"It is typical of how they're designed to end their (bulb) life," says Hydro spokesperson Glenn Schneider.

Unlike other bulbs, CFL bulbs carry a small amount of mercury, about the size of a ballpoint pen.

So, if they break, Health Canada advises you to open a window and leave the room for 15 minutes. Then, you should pick broken pieces up with gloves and masking tape and place them in a covered container, before dumping it in the trash.

By 2012, traditional incandescent bulbs will no longer be available. Other bulbs have other drawbacks. For instance, halogen bulbs are not as energy efficient as CFLs.

Light emitting diode (LED) bulbs are an alternative that can last up to 15 years or 250,000 hours, but they're more expensive at $15 to 20 per bulb.

If they break, all you have to do is throw them in the garbage.


Health Canada says there have been no recent reports of fire involving CFL bulbs, but Canadians can always report any health or safety incidents related to the use of a consumer products or cosmetics. A form is now available on the department's website at:

Information on handling CFLs safely is also available online on Health Canada and Natural Resource Canada's websites at:

You can also drop off old, used CFL lightbulbs at Home Depot stores.