Clean up Broken CFL Bulbs

Last week, we discussed proper light bulb disposal for the various bulbs you may have in your home or office. When bulbs burn out, it’s important to dispose of them properly to prevent injury and exposure to toxic substances. When bulbs break, cleanup can be tricky; cleaning up broken CFL bulbs require special measures, due to the mercury they contain. Follow these steps to safely clean up broken CFL bulbs.

Broken CFL bulbs: before cleanup

Before you begin to clean up a broken CFL bulb, clear the area of people as well as pets, and take care to avoid broken glass upon exiting. Shut off your forced air heating and air conditioning systems, and open a window or door for ventilation. Leave the room while it airs out, for about five to ten minutes. These steps should be taken to lessen the risk of exposure to mercury vapor which is released when CFL bulbs break.

Broken CFL bulbs: tools for cleanup

You’ll need:

  • Cardboard or a stiff piece of paper
  • Tape
  • A damp paper towel or disposable wipe
  • A glass jar with a metal lid or a plastic bag you can seal for disposal

Broken CFL bulbs: steps for cleanup

To avoid spreading mercury vapor, don’t use a vacuum for cleanup unless glass remains after taking these steps. On hard surfaces and carpet, scoop the glass pieces onto the paper or cardboard and place the pieces and the paper in your disposal container. Use the sticky side of your tape to pick up small glass pieces that may remain, and wipe down hard surfaces with a paper towel or wipe. Put all materials used for cleanup in the disposal container, including the tape you used and paper towels or wipes. Seal the container, and take outside; plastic bags can still allow mercury vapor to escape, so it’s best not to keep the container indoors.

If you must use a vacuum to complete cleanup, take these precautions. Keep doors and windows open while the vacuum is in use. Use the hose attachment, if available, to suck up remaining glass fragments. After you’re finished, empty and wideout the vacuum canister or remove and seal the vacuum bag, and place these materials in a plastic bag. Seal the disposal container and place materials outdoors.

Broken CFL bulbs: proper disposal

Because of the mercury they contain, broken CFL bulbs as well as burned-out CFL bulbs require special disposal methods. Depending on where you live, your town may require you to dispose of the materials at a recycling center or collection facility. Check with your local government or recycling provider for more information.

Frye Electric wants your family to stay safe, wherever electricity is concerned. By following these steps, you can reduce your risk of exposure to harmful substances should a CFL bulb break in your home. There are other lighting options available, such as LEDs, which do not contain hazardous substances. Call Frye Electric today to learn more about how you can use LED technology to light your home.

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