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What to do when a CFL Breaks and how to Recycle Them

Broken CFL Bulb

Many people use compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs) because they are energy efficient and save money. CFLs contain a small amount of mercury, so it is important to know what to do if one breaks. As long as you follow these steps, CFLs are safe to use in your home.

What to do if a CFL breaks:

You will need:

  • stiff paper or cardboard
  • ticky tape, like duct tape
  • damp paper towels or wet wipe
  • a glass jar with a metal lid or a sealable plastic bag
  1. Have all people and pets leave the room.
  2. Open windows and doors, and allow the room to air for 5-10 minutes.
  3. Don’t vacuum! This will spread mercury vapor and mercury powder.
  4. Use the stiff paper/cardboard to scoop up as much glass and cardboard as you can, and then use the tape to get the rest.
  5. Put the glass, powder and tape in the jar/sealable bag.
  6. Put the jar/sealable bag in a sealable container and take it outside.
  7. Check local regulations to find out how to dispose of the broken bulb. Some areas require you to take it to a recycling center.
  8. If possible, continue to air the room for several hours.