Because we have hundreds of light bulbs in stock, it can be difficult for us to pick one specific item or category to discuss. We’ve blogged about back-to-school bulbs, the best choices for energy efficiency, and what to use in the summer months. And now, we’re going to tackle a heart-breaking (for us) and very important topic: what to do if your CFL light bulb breaks.
Unlike traditional lighting options, CFLs have a small amount of mercury that can be exposed to open air if broken, which is why it’s necessary to take steps other than vacuuming up the mess. (Note: Avoid vacuuming until after all the steps we’ve recommended have been taken. There is a risk of spreading powder or vapors containing mercury if this is done too quickly.)
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has a list of recommended steps to take if a CFL bulb breaks, which we’ve mirrored and added some comments of our own:
1. Once the bulb is broken, clear the room of people/pets and air it out—by opening a door or window, not by turning on your air-conditioner.
2. Pick up large glass fragments with sturdy paper (or if you’re wearing thick gloves, that works, too) and scoop them into a bag or container.
3. Using heavy-duty tape, pick up the remaining smaller fragments and residue.
4. Check with local authorities to make sure the bulb won’t have to be disposed of at a recycling center. If there is no law or regulation in your state, seal the bag or container and dispose of it.
5. Keep airing out the room that the broken bulb was in.
We ask that you take extreme caution in this process—safety is key.