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Do Projector Bulbs Contain Mercury?


Do you want to know how much mercury your lamp projector may expose you to? Here is where we get into it.

Projectors are widely used today and many owners still do not know the risks that they may be faced with.

Manufacturers do their best to minimize hazards. However, your safety should be as important to you as it is to manufacturers.

Over the years, concerns have been raised over the toxicity of mercury. This has caused some mercury-based devices to phase out.

Surprisingly, fluorescent bulbs seem to be going nowhere.

Does this mean mercury poses less danger in these bulbs? Well, you’re about to find out in this article.

Mercury Light Bulbs Explained

Mercury is a chemical element commonly used in thermometers, fluorescent lamps, and other devices.

Fluorescent bulbs contain mercury in its vaporized form (gas) and it is vital for their production of visible light.

fluorescent bulb contains mercury

Mercury ions are contained in a tube in the bulb. These ions conduct electricity from one end of the tube to the other end.

The conduction excites the ions and they give off radiant energy in the form of UV light.

On the inside of the tube, there is a phosphor coating. The phosphor converts UV light into visible light for various applications.

Ultra-High Performance (UHP) projector bulbs are fluorescent lamps. So, yes — projector bulbs contain mercury.

Fluorescent projector bulbs (or lamps) have high efficiency and low energy consumption. The lifespan of a projector bulb is nearly ten times that of an incandescent bulb.

While the mercury is inside the glass bulb, there is no risk to users’ health. BUT, what happens if the mercury is released into the environment?

What are the Dangers of Mercury in Projector Bulbs?

Mercury is very toxic and must be handled with extreme care. When mercury is spilled, special care is taken to prevent exposure and contain the spill.

Mercury poisoning may occur as a result of:

  • Exposure to mercury in its water-soluble form
  • Ingesting any form of mercury
  • Inhaling vaporized mercury (gas)

The mercury bulbs in projectors can only pose a risk to users when damage to the bulb results in a mercury leak.

Vaporized mercury is easy to inhale unsuspectingly and hard to clean up completely.

It is even more dangerous if the mercury vapor leaks in an enclosed area. It may be inhaled in quantities large enough to cause mercury poisoning.

You must take proper steps to avoid mercury leaks. If it happens anyway, properly ventilate the area to disperse the vapor, and minimize the concentration level.

What Happens if You Inhale Mercury from a Light Bulb?

When one inhales mercury, it gets absorbed into the bloodstream and this can lead to health problems.

A small amount of mercury vapor can also be absorbed through the skin. However, this amount is almost non-toxic and highly unlikely to cause symptoms of mercury poisoning.

Symptoms of Mercury Poisoning

a woman coughs due to inhaling mercury

Like most illnesses, mercury poisoning has its distinguishing effects. Symptoms of mercury poisoning include the following:

  • Breathlessness
  • Coughing
  • A tightening or burning sensation in the chest
  • Shaking tremors
  • Feeling nervous and irritable

If you have reason to suspect mercury poisoning, don’t just wait and see. You should get a urine or blood test to be sure.

Another hazard of mercury is that once it gets absorbed into the human body, it never leaves. Reminds one of a tragic romance.

If you keep getting exposed to small — harmless — amounts of mercury, they accumulate in your body. Someday, the amount accumulated might become sufficient to cause mercury poisoning.

How Can a Mercury Leak Occur in a Projector?

1. Lamp Explosion

a bulb explodes

Some projector faults can result in the explosion of a projector lamp bulb. The bulb has an internal pressure of up to 250 atm at about 1300° Celsius.

One cause of projector lamp explosion is touching the lamps with bare hands during installation or assembly.

Your fingers leave greasy spots on the lamp which get hotter than the rest of the lamp. High temperatures can cause a crack in the glass and result in an explosion.

Projector lamps also fail with age. The high pressure may cause the aged bulb to fail and explode.

Projectors are built in such a way that bulb explosions do not damage the projector.

However, you still have the problem of mercury vapor leaking into the air. You can disperse the vapor and reduce the hazard with proper ventilation.

2. Bulb Replacement

man fixing a new bulb of a dim projector

While replacing a dim or faulty projector bulb, the bulb may suffer even more damage. As a result, vaporized mercury may escape from the bulb.

Mercury residues have often been detected on the casings of devices that have undergone bulb replacements. This poses an obvious health risk.

How Do You Dispose of Mercury Projector Bulbs?

The mercury and other hazardous materials in projector lamps can pollute the environment. Hence, it is wrong to drop burned-out lamp bulbs in the trash can.

How do you properly dispose of a projector bulb?

The best thing to do after a replacement is to reach out to a recycling center and arrange for proper disposal of the burned bulb.

If no recycling center in your community accepts projector lamps, you can ship them to a center that accepts projector lamps.

Also, you can reach out to your suppliers and find out if they offer recycling services.

6 Steps to Follow for Lamp Replacement and Disposal:

How To Replace A Projector Lamp-Epson PowerLite 97H

or

How to Change a Projector Lamp

  1. Turn off the projector, unplug it from the power outlet, and wait for the device to cool. Projectors bulbs get hot when they are in use. It is unsafe to touch the bulb before it has cooled.
  2. The specific steps for replacing projector bulbs vary across different brands and models. However, you will generally have to remove the lamp cover (this typically includes undoing screws).
  3. Once the cover has been removed, you must loosen the extra screws used to hold the lamp in place.
  4. Now, pull out the old lamp using its handle or finger grips. If you find that the lamp exploded, be careful while taking out the shards of glass in the projector.
  5. Put the replacement lamp into the projector, screw it in place and screw on the lamp cover.
  6. The next thing to do is to prepare the burned-out lamp for recycling.

Tips:

Put on gloves while replacing the lamp. If you do not have gloves, take care to not touch the glass of the lamp.

You can pack the old lamp in its original packaging if you still have it. You can also use bubble wrap or any protective material to wrap it up.

The important thing is to pack it right so that it doesn’t break on the way to recycling and cause mercury leaks.

FAQs

question marks

1. What happens to a projector bulb that burns out?

Simple answer: it stops coming on. Also, if the bulb explodes, it would leak mercury gas into your projector and surroundings.

How do you know your projector bulb has burned out?

When you turn on the projector, does the screen light up? If your answer is no, your lamp has most likely burned out.

If the lamp suddenly goes off with a POP sound while you’re projecting, it probably just exploded.

2. Do projector bulbs explode?

Yes, projector bulbs may explode. Let’s consider a few reasons your projector bulb may explode.

Poor operating practices

Sometimes, a projector bulb explodes simply because it is tired! You may be using your projector poorly and wearing the lamp out.

Some things that can cause your projector bulb to explode are:

  • Frequent/extended use of the projector
  • Overheating and poor ventilation
  • Inadequate cooling time
  • No vibration isolator
  • Power surges

Mishandling during installation

One thing to not do to a projector lamp is to touch its glass surface with bare hands.

The greasy spots can lead to uneven temperature across the glass surface, internal tension, and eventual cracking.

Exhausted lifespan

Projector lamps are not to be used forever. Every lamp has its lifespan and should be replaced before its time is exhausted.

Many projectors send a signal — via messages or indicator lights — when it is time for the lamp to be replaced.

As an old lamp approaches the end of its lifespan, its internal components will deteriorate and it may explode.

A defective bulb

Manufacturers are not always perfect. The glass on your bulb may be thinner in some places or slightly ruptured.

The high pressure when the bulb is turned on may cause the already faulty glass to explode in a new projector.

3. How much mercury is in a projector lamp?

There is about 30mg of vaporized mercury in a projector lamp. The mercury is under pressure and would be released into the atmosphere if the lamp explodes.

Inhalation results in 80% absorption into the blood. As little as 0.25mg of absorbed mercury can cause poisoning in an adult.

To avoid inhaling enough mercury to cause harm, quickly open up the windows and leave the room. You can return after it has dispersed

Conclusion

Mercury’s presence in a projector bulb is important for its operation, but it is dangerous when people inhale mercury vapor.

Exposure occurs due to bulb explosion or poor disposal of old bulbs after replacement. Proper ventilation and safe disposal are two ways to prevent exposure after a mercury leak.

Hey, if you’re looking for a replacement, we know the 5 best places to get a projector bulb. Be sure to take a look!


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