Broken fluorescent bulbs and CFLs

Fluorescent lamps contain mercury (Hg), which can escape and poison people and wildlife. If a fluorescent or CFL bulb breaks, follow these cleanup instructions from the Vermont Department of Health:

  • DO NOT VACUUM OR SWEEP up the broken lamp, as this may spread any mercury vapor that is present to other rooms. Keep all people and pets away from the breakage area.
  • Ventilate the room by closing all interior doors and vents, opening windows and any exterior doors in the room and leaving the room (restrict access) for at least 15 minutes.
  • Remove all materials you can, and don’t use a vacuum cleaner.
    • Wear disposable gloves if available
    • Carefully scoop up the glass fragments and powder with a stiff paper or cardboard (such as playing cards or index cards)
    • Pick up any remaining small pieces of glass and powder using sticky tape (such as masking or duct tape)
    • Wipe the area clean with a damp paper towel or disposable wet wipe
  • Place all cleanup materials (cardboard, gloves, tape, etc.) into a glass or rigid container with a lid.
  • Wash your hands.
  • Leave windows in the affected room open as long as practical (weather permitting).

Broken fluorescent bulbs may be disposed of at a Household Hazardous Waste Collection or Hazardous Waste Facility.

  • Broken fluorescent bulbs and CFLs