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Dangers of Broken Fluorescent Lights

Fluorescent bulbs of all types, including the compact fluorescent or CFL, contain mercury and other toxins (like lead). Chances are you've heard horror stories about broken fluorescent bulbs and mercury. While the truth is relatively mild, you still need to dispose of the broken bulb.

Learn the truth about CFLs and mercury.

Fluorescent bulbs of all types, including the compact fluorescent or CFL, contain mercury and other toxins (like lead).  Chances are you've heard horror stories about broken fluorescent bulbs and mercury.

While the truth is relatively mild, you still need to dispose of the broken bulb.  Learn what to be afraid or, and what to do with the broken glass.


Cuts

A paramount danger of any type of broken light bulb, including fluorescent, is injury because of broken glass.  Take care not to walk in bare feet and avoid touching broken light bulbs with your hands.

Sweep the area, then go over it with a wet paper towel to pick up small shards. 


Mercury

Fluorescent bulbs contain the toxic chemical mercury.  According to Ask the Treehugger, breaking a bulb in your house is unlikely to leech out enough mercury to harm you.

However, you still want to clean up quickly. 


Air Quality

Open the windows in your home if you break a light bulb.  This prevents mercury vapors from remaining in your home, where you can inhale them.

Leave the windows open for 30 minutes to one hour for peace of mind. 


Disposal

Fluorescent bulbs, even broken ones, constitute hazardous waste.  Per the Environmental Protection Agency, place the shards of glass and the paper towel with glass shavings inside a sealable plastic bag.

Take the bag to your nearest hazardous waste collection site. 

About the Author

A successful website writer since 1998, Elton Dunn has demonstrated experience with technology, information retrieval, usability and user experience, social media, cloud computing, and small business needs. Dunn holds a degree from UCSF and formerly worked as professional chef. Dunn has ghostwritten thousands of blog posts, newsletter articles, website copy, press releases and product descriptions. He specializes in developing informational articles on topics including food, nutrition, fitness, health and pets.

Photo Credits

  • Compact fluorescent lightbulb image by K. Geijer from Fotolia.com
  • Compact fluorescent lightbulb image by K. Geijer from Fotolia.com