Consumerwatch: CFL bulb safety
Published Monday, March 25, 2013 10:29AM CST
Last Updated Monday, March 25, 2013 11:56AM CST
Brian Krushen thought he was saving energy and money by using CFL bulbs, but a few months after putting them in some light fixtures, some had serious safety concerns.
“There were flames, and I just quickly reached out, unscrewed the bulb and took it out,” explained Krushen.
The result was a bulb with visible scorch marks near the plastic base. Krushen says his bulb started to smoke shortly after turning his light on, then he saw a flame and smelled an unpleasant odor.
“Well, first thought was to get rid of the bulb. My second thought was ‘Wow, how many more of these things is this going to happen to?’” he said.
Krushen contacted the bulb’s manufacturer, Sylvania. A spokesperson says this is actually common: when a bulb burns out, it may pop, crack, and emit a distinct odour. People may see light smoke or a charring of the plastic base by the bulb.
Andy Thiessen of the Morden Fire Department isn’t buying it. He said he’s received a number of complaints about the bulbs, and said they’ve caused homes to fill with smoke. He has even taken steps to remove them from his own home.
“We know they are causing some problems where they are bursting into flames in the home right in the electrical socket, and it’s pretty scary,” said Thiessen.
The Underwriters Laboratories, the organization responsible for the safety and testing of the bulbs, said some manufacturers have changed the circuitry to reduce the negative effects when the bulbs burn out. They say people should not be alarmed if they see smoke or flames, however.
“The reality is in investigations of these incidents, we generally find it’s just the end of life,” said the organization.
But Brian Krushen says he’s killing the switch on his CFLs. He said, “If this one flames, how many more have done it, and if they’re in an empty house where there have been fires, is that the cause?”
Krushen said he plans to replace all the CFLs in his home with incandescent bulbs while they’re still around.
The Underwriters Laboratories has guidelines on CFL bulb use on their website.
Health Canada also has information on how to report a product on its website.
"Since the beginning of 2012 Health Canada has received 18 reports regarding CFLs. Under the authority of the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act (CCPSA), Health Canada requires mandatory reporting of consumer product-related incidents by industry. Consumers and health care professionals are encouraged to report consumer product-related incidents by submitting an incident report form via the Health Canada website," said Health Canada.
- with a report from CTV’s Karen Rocznik