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Broken CFL Bulbs

posted Feb 22, 2011, 11:21 AM by Marie Cimochowicz   [ updated Feb 22, 2011, 11:37 AM ]

What to Do if a Compact Fluorescent Light (CFL) Bulb or Fluorescent Tube Light Bulb Breaks in Your Home: Overview

Fluorescent light bulbs contain a small amount of mercury sealed within the glass tubing. When a fluorescent bulb breaks in your home, some of this mercury is released as mercury vapor. The broken bulb can continue to release mercury vapor until it is cleaned up and removed from the residence. To minimize exposure to mercury vapor, EPA recommends that residents follow the cleanup and disposal steps described below.

This page presents only the most important steps to reduce exposure to mercury vapor from a broken bulb.

View the detailed recommendations.

Download and print a three-page PDF version of this overview and the detailed recommendations (91K, about PDF) | en español (30K, about PDF)

  1. 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.
  1. During cleanup
    • Be thorough in collecting broken glass and visible powder.
    • Place cleanup materials in a sealable container.
After cleanup
  • Promptly place all bulb debris and cleanup materials outdoors in a trash container or protected area until materials can be disposed of properly. Avoid leaving any bulb fragments or cleanup materials indoors.
  • If practical, continue to air out the room where the bulb was broken and leave the heating/air conditioning system shut off for several hours.
Courtesy of Healthy Homes Coalition www.healthyhomescoalition.org

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