CFL bulbs contain mercury. If you break one, don’t use a vacuum to clean up.
A vacuum cleaner will spread mercury containing dust throughout the area as well as contaminating the vacuum.
What if I accidentally break a fluorescent bulb in my home?
The most important thing to remember is to never use a vacuum . A standard vacuum will spread mercury containing dust throughout the area as well as potentially contaminating the vacuum. What you should do is:
- Keep people and pets away from the breakage area so that the mercury in the powder inside the bulb is not accidentally tracked into other areas.
- Ventilate the area by opening windows.
- Wear appropriate personal protective equipment, such as rubber gloves, safety glasses, old clothing or coveralls, and a dust mask (if you have one) to keep bulb dust and glass from being inhaled.
- Carefully remove the larger pieces and place them in a secure closed container, preferably a glass container with a metal screw top and gasket seal like a canning jar.
- Next, begin collecting the smaller pieces and dust. You can use a disposable broom and dustpan or two stiff pieces of paper to scoop up pieces.
- Put all material into the glass container. Pat the area with the sticky side of duct, packing or masking tape. Wipe the area with a damp cloth or paper towels to pick up fine particles.
- Put all waste and materials used to clean up the bulb in the glass container and label it “Universal Waste – broken lamp”.
- Take the container for recycling as universal waste.
The next time you replace a bulb, consider putting a drop cloth on the floor so that any accidental breakage can be easily cleaned up.
History and facts on CFL breakage (pdf format)