Compact fluorescent light bulbs ( CFL’s) and other fluorescent light bulbs all contain mercury. CFL’s contain about 3 – 4 milligrams of mercury in a glass tube. As CFL’s use has increased it is important to know how to clean up if one breaks in your home or office. The following information has been provided by the Environmental Protection Agency: “A Quick Guide to Cleaning Up Broken CFL’s:”
- Before cleanup
- Have people and pets leave the room.
- Air out the room for 5-10 minutes by opening a window or door to the outdoor environment.
- Shut off the central forced air heating/air-conditioning system, if you have one.
- Collect materials needed to clean up broken bulb. Collect materials (stiff paper/cardboard, sticky tape, damp paper towels/wet wipes) needed to clean up broken bulb. Vacuum cleaners and brooms are not used to clean up mercury spills.
- During cleanup
- Be thorough in collecting broken glass and visible powder.
- Place cleanup materials in a container and seal. This will be a glass bottle or plastic container. Remember that these materials cannot be thrown out in the regular trash. It will be necessary to rid these materials through your local hazard waste program. Check with your local/county public health department.
- Promptly place all bulb debris and cleanup materials outdoors in a trash container or protected area until materials are disposed of properly. Remember, this cannot be picked up by your local trash pickup and brought to the landfill. Avoid leaving any bulb fragments or cleanup materials indoors. Contact your local health department for Household Hazardous Waste disposal information.
- Continue to air out the room where the bulb was broken and leave the heating and air conditioning system shut off for several hours.
Additional information on how to safely use and clean up after broken CFL’s is able to be found at the following links:
If energy conservation is a priority for you and your family and you use CFL’s in your home, be sure to keep these tips available and check Environmental Protection Agency website for ongoing updates. Reading the packaging materials the CFL’s come in should also be a helpful.