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October 13, 1975

Mercury Vapor Lamp Injuries

Author Affiliations

Bureau of Radiological Health Rockville, Md
Washington (DC) Hospital Center

JAMA. 1975;234(2):149. doi:10.1001/jama.1975.03260150019002

To the Editor.—  We would like to draw the attention of all physicians to a public health problem associated with exposure to damaged, but operational, high-intensity mercury vapor discharge lamps. Lamps of this type are commonly used in school gymnasiums, sports arenas, parking areas, commercial establishments, and industrial facilities because they produce highly efficient illumination at relatively low cost.In recent months, a number of reports of eye and facial injury have been received by the Bureau of Radiological Health, FDA, and one of us (J.K.) has recently treated two patients exposed to such radiation. The injuries occurred when the protective outer glass bulb of these lamps was broken, permitting exposure to the intense, shortwave erythemal ultraviolet radiations emitted by the inner bulb.Ten separate incidents of injury to more than 60 individuals have been reported to the Bureau of Radiological Health. These have occurred under a variety of conditions,