Revised Clean-Up Recommendations for
Broken Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs)
Note: The following guidelines are taken from the Maine Compact Fluorescent Lamp Breakage Study Report conducted by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, available as a downloadable PDF file by clicking here.
I highly recommend that you read the Conclusions and Discussion on page 63 of the report for important information on what happens when a CFL breaks on a carpeted floor. Dangerously high levels of mercury vapor were detected for weeks after the broken lamp was thought to be completely cleaned up.
One thing you do not want to do is to run your vacuum cleaner over the fragments and mercury dust of a broken CFL. You can pretty much throw the vacuum cleaner away after that. Otherwise you risk contaminating everywhere else you use the vacuum cleaner once it draws up mercury dust.
There is also concern that a CFL that breaks over a carpet necessitates the homeowner removing the carpet altogether, particularly if small children will be playing on or near that carpet. Read the report for details.
Click here to download and view the entire report, and go to page 63 for the Conclusion and Discussion.
This page last updated April 14, 2009.
Here are the revised cleanup guidelines developed as a result of this study:
"Appendix E: Revised Cleanup Guidance
"What if I accidentally break a fluorescent lamp in my home?
"The lamp contains a small amount of mercury, but you can clean this up yourself if you do the following:
"1) Do not use a vacuum cleaner to clean up the breakage. This will
spread the mercury vapor and dust throughout the area and
could potentially contaminate the vacuum.
"The next time you replace a lamp, consider putting a drop cloth on the floor so that any accidental breakage can be easily cleaned up. If consumers remain concerned regarding safety, they may consider not utilizing fluorescent lamps in situations where they could easily be broken. Consumers may also consider avoiding CFL usage in bedrooms or carpeted areas frequented by infants, small children, or pregnant women. Finally, consider not storing too many used/spent lamps before recycling as that may increase your chances of breakage. Don't forget to properly recycle your used fluorescent bulbs so they don't break and put mercury into our environment."
(End of revised guidelines.)
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