How do I clean up a broken compact fluorescent light bulb (CFL)?

Posted: April 2, 2020 at 1:57 pm

Each compact fluorescent light bulb (CFL) contains a very small amount of mercury in either powder or pellet form; however, the greatest risk to you from a broken bulb is getting cut by glass shards. The amount of mercury in a light bulb is extremely small, however precautions must still be taken. The following steps should be taken for clean-up of hard surfaces:

  • Before starting to cleanup, ventilate the room. Open a window or door for 15 minutes and turn off central heating/cooling systems. Contact Facilities Management to temporarily shut the heating/cooling system if you are unable to do so.
  • Gently sweep up – don’t vacuum – all of the glass fragment and fine particles. Place all waste in rigid lined container such as a plastic bag inside of a small box.
  • Use tape (e.g., duct tape, or packing tape) to pick up any remaining small glass fragments and place it in the waste container.
  • Wipe the area clean with a damp paper towel or disposable wet wipe, and place in the waste container.
  • Seal the container and label the exterior with the date and name of the contents: “Light bulb debris.”
  • Contact EHS to collect waste materials or for assistance in cleanup.
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Write to nlam at nlam@gmu.edu