Your Safety - Broken CFL Light Bulbs

Cleaning Up Broken CFL Light Bulbs

More Canadians are replacing regular incandescent light bulbs with more energy-efficient products, such as compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs). While CFLs are being promoted because they are energy-efficient, their use has also raised health concerns as they contain a very small amount of mercury inside the lamp. There is no risk to your health from an unbroken lamp but a very low risk exists if a lamp is broken, so Health Canada has developed the following clean-up procedures:


•Remove people and pets from the room and keep them out of the room during the clean-up process.
•Avoid stepping on any broken glass.
•Ventilate the room for at least 15 minutes prior to starting clean-up by opening windows and doors to the outdoors. This will ensure that  mercury vapour levels are reduced before you start cleaning.
Clean-up for Hard and Carpeted Surfaces
•Do not use a vacuum to clean up the initial breakage, as it will spread the mercury vapour and dust throughout the area and may contaminate the vacuum.
•Wear disposable gloves, if available, to avoid direct contact with mercury and to prevent cuts.
•Scoop or sweep up the broken pieces and debris with two pieces of stiff paper or cardboard.  Do not use a broom.
•Use sticky tape, such as duct tape or masking tape, to pick up any remaining fine glass or powder.
•Wipe the area with a damp paper towel, cloth or disposable wet wipe to remove any residual particles.
•Place the broken glass and clean-up materials in a glass container with a tight fitting lid to further minimize the release of mercury vapour.
Carpeting - After the Initial Clean-up
•If the rug is removable, take it outside, shake and air it out for as long as is practical. 
•The first time you vacuum on installed carpet after the clean-up, shut the door to the room or close off the area as much as possible and ventilate the room in which the lamp was broken by opening the windows and doors to the outside. When the   vacuuming is done, remove the bag, wipe the vacuum with a damp paper towel, cloth or disposable wet wipe, and then place the vacuum bag and paper towel in a sealed plastic bag outside.  In the case of a canister vacuum, wipe the canister out with a wet paper towel and dispose of the towel as outlined above. Continue to ventilate the room for 15 minutes once the vacuuming is completed.
•Immediately place waste material outside of the building in a protected area away from children.
•Dispose of the waste at a household hazardous waste location as soon as possible.  Check with local, provincial, or territorial authorities about the requirements for recycling and for the location of household hazardous waste depots or pick-up. 
•Do not dispose of the waste in your household trash.
•For further information on disposal, please  contact Environment Canada.
•Wash your hands after storing and disposing of waste.
Information obtained from Health Canada website: