Back in the day, most light bulbs were incandescent bulbs. However, these lights have been falling out of favor throughout the country because there are more energy-efficient options that are being encouraged. On top of efficiency concerns, there are also worries regarding the safety of these bulbs. Here are some of the reasons that incandescent bulbs can be dangerous.
A Glowing Filament
Incandescent bulbs create light by having electricity run through a tungsten filament, causing said filament to illuminate. Now, while light gets produced this way, it also causes heat, which makes up a majority of the energy output. When the filament is glowing, it can reach astronomically high temperatures, in the range of 2,200 degrees Celsius (which is 4,000 degrees Fahrenheit)! The filament then heats the gases inside the light bulb, causing the glass enclosure to reach temperatures around 500 degrees Fahrenheit, or 260 degrees Celsius. This makes incandescent bulbs dangerous to handle while they are lit up.
Circulating air is usually able to get the surfaces of incandescent bulbs cooled down when necessary. However, if a bulb is left in an unventilated area, the temperature of the bulb will climb rapidly. If left in places such as storage rooms and closets, they can cause flammable objects that are too close to the bulb to be set ablaze!
It’s not even just flammable objects at risk, either. Even some non-flammable objects, like pull-chairs, aren’t safe. When these make contact with exposed incandescent bulbs, heat can be conducted inside of the fixture. This can overheat electrical wires, causing fires to start.
Thin Glass Shell
Contrary to CFL bulbs, incandescent varieties don’t have mercury in them, meaning that you won’t get exposed to toxic fumes if you break one. Rather than that, incandescent tend to have an inert gas in them, like argon, that stops the filament from corroding. This gas is kept inside a thin glass shell. The shell is delicate, and if that shell breaks, it leaves behind small pieces of glass. These shards are a hazard to people because they can break skin very easily, and they can even be inhaled if the shards are small enough. You also shouldn’t throw incandescent bulbs carelessly into the trash because the workers who handle that trash could end up getting hurt as a result.
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