Compact Florescent Lamps (CFLs) are small fluorescent light bulbs that use up to 75 percent less energy than a traditional incandescent bulb. Although these bulbs are helpful in cutting costs on the home's electric bill, there is also a need to increase public awareness of the correct use and disposal of CFLs. The average CFL contains around 5 milligrams of mercury; mercury is essential to what makes CFLs a highly efficient light source. If a bulb is to break, it is important to clean and dispose of the broken CFL carefully to avoid spreading the phosphrous powder, glass, and any remaining mercury. Below is a list of the U.S. EPA's guidelines for cleaning up a broken CFL:
- Open a window and leave the room for at least 15 minutes and let the room air out.
Remove all materials you can without using a vacuum cleaner.
- Wear disposable rubber gloves, if available.
- Carefully scoop up the fragments and powder with stiff paper or cardboard.
- wipe the area clean with a damp paper towel.
- Place all cleanup materials in a plastic bag and seal it, and then place in a second sealed plastic bag.
- The first time you vacuum the area where the bulb was broken, remove the vacuum bag once done cleaning the area and put the bag as well as the other cleaning materials, in two sealed plastic bags in the outdoor trash for normal disposal.
It is recommended that consumers take advantage of any local recycling options for CFLs where available.
There is little risk for significant mercury exposure from a broken CFL bulb. CFLs are a useful product which can help provide an easy and inexpensive solution for lowering a home's electricity usage. For more information concerning CFL bulbs you can use the following link: