Cleaning Up a Broken CFL
CFLs have small amounts of mercury sealed within its tubing. If a CFL breaks, some of this mercury is released as mercury vapor. The following cleanup and disposal steps are recommended by the EPA to minimize exposure to mercury vapor.
•Have people and pets leave the room.
•Air out the room for 5-10 minutes by opening a window or door to the outdoors.
•Shut off any central forced air-conditioning (or heating) system, if you have one.
•Collect the following to clean up broken bulb:
1. stiff paper and cardboard;
2. sticky tape such as duct tape
3. damp paper towels or disposable wet wipes (for hard surfaces); and
4. A glass jar with a metal lid or a sealable plastic bag.
•DO NOT VACUUM. Vacuuming could spread mercury-containing powder or mercury vapor.
•Thoroughly collect all broken glass and visible powder. Scoop up glass fragments and powder with the stiff paper and cardboard. Pick up any remaining fragments and powder with the sticky tape.
•Place the tape and all cleanup materials in a sealable container.
•Promptly place all materials outdoors in a trash container or protected area until it can be disposed of.
•Check with your local government about disposal requirements because some localities require fluorescent bulbs be taken to a local recycling center. If there is no such requirement, you can dispose of the materials with your household trash.
•Continue to air out the room where the bulb was broken and leave the heating/air conditioning system shut off for several hours.
If you’ve already cleaned up a CFL but didn’t do it as recommended, don’t be alarmed; these steps are only precautions that reflect best practices for cleaning up a broken CFL. CFLs contain a very small amount of mercury — less than 1/100th of the amount in a mercury thermometer. However, if you are concerned about your health after cleaning up a broken CFL, consult your local poison control center.