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Compact Fluorescent Light (CFL) Fixtures

Compact Fluorescent Light (CFL) fixtures have minor amounts of mercury in them. Although EPA does not require them to be disposed as hazardous waste, the Campus Sustainability Committee encourages individuals to dispose of these fixtures responsibly. Ace Hardware and The Home Depot both offer free recycling of CFLs.

Clean-Up Guidelines for Broken CFLs

Before Clean-up:

  • Air Out the Room
  • Have people and pets leave the room. Don't let anyone walk through the breakage area on their way out.
  • Open a window and leave the room for 15 minutes or more.
  • Shut off the central forced-air heating/air conditioning system, if you have one.

Clean-Up Steps for Hard Surfaces:

  • Scoop up glass pieces and powder using stiff paper or cardboard and place them in a glass jar with metal lid (such as a canning jar) or in a sealed plastic bag.
  • Use sticky tape, such as duct tape, to pick up any remaining small glass fragments and powder.
  • Wipe the area with damp paper towels or disposable wet wipes. Place towels in the glass jar or plastic bag.

Clean-up Steps for Carpeting or Rug

  • Pick up glass fragments and place them in a glass jar with metal lid or in a sealed plastic bag.
  • Use sticky tape, such as duct tape, to pick up any remaining small glass fragments and powder.
  • If vacuuming is needed after all visible materials are removed, vacuum the area where the bulb was broken.
  • Remove the vacuum bag (or empty and wipe the canister). Put the bag or debris in a sealed plastic bag. Clean-up Steps for Clothing, Bedding and Other Soft Materials
  • If clothing or bedding materials come in direct contact with broken glass or mercury-containing powder from inside the bulb that may stick to the fabric, the clothing or bedding should be thrown away. Do not wash such clothing or bedding because mercury in the clothing may contaminate the machine and/or pollute sewage.
  • You can, however, wash clothing or other materials that have been exposed to the mercury vapor from a broken CFL, such as the clothing you are wearing when you cleaned up the broken CFL.
  • If shoes come into direct contact with broken glass or mercury-containing powder from the bulb, wipe them off with damp paper towels or wet wipes. Place the towels or wipes in a glass jar or plastic bag for disposal. Disposal of Clean-up Materials .
  • Place all clean-up materials outdoors in a trash container or protected area for the next normal trash pickup.

Future Cleaning of Carpeting or Rug:

  • Air Out the Room During and After Vacuuming.
  • The next several times you vacuum, shut off the central forced-air heating/air conditioning system and open a window before vacuuming.
  • Keep the central heating/air conditioning system shut off and the window open for at least 15 minutes after vacuuming is completed.

For your safety...

  • Never use a vacuum cleaner to clean up mercury. The vacuum will put mercury into the air and increase exposure.
  • Never use a broom to clean up mercury. It will break the mercury into smaller droplets and spread them.
  • Never pour mercury down a drain. It may lodge in the plumbing and cause future problems during plumbing repairs. If discharged, it can cause pollution of the septic tank or sewage treatment plant.
  • Never wash clothing or other items that have come in direct contact with mercury in a washing machine. Instead, discard these items. "Direct contact" means that mercury was (or has been) spilled directly on the clothing. For example, if you broke a mercury thermometer and some of mercury beads touched your clothing, or if you broke a compact fluorescent bulb (CFL) so that broken glass and other material from the bulb, including mercury-containing powder, touched your clothing.
  • Never walk around if your shoes might be contaminated with mercury. Contaminated clothing can also spread mercury around.