CFLs (Compact Fluorescent Lamps) are much more energy efficient than incandescent lamps. But, an ugly truth about CFL bulbs is that they contain a small amount of mercury vapors (about 4 milligrams per bulb on average). The mercury has some adverse effects on health. It can enter the body through skin or inhalation and may lead to shortness of breath, chest pain, nausea, headache and increased blood pressure etc.. Pregnant women and young children are most vulnerable to the effects of mercury exposure.
How safe is a CFL bulb to use in homes?
Governments of countries all over the world have set standards, laws and regulations about the maximum amount of mercury to be used in a CFL bulb. Such as, the Bureau of Indian Standards has set the mercury limit to less than 5 mg per CFL of less than 26 watts. Also, no mercury is released when the bulbs are in use. And as a very small amount of mercury is used in a CFL, there is NO significant risk to you and your family even if it gets broken. So, don’t worry too much if you break a CFL. Following are the best practices to clean up a broken CFL.
Best Practices to clean up a broken CFL
- Get children and pets out of the room before you start cleaning up a broken CFL.
- Allow air to get out of the room by opening windows and doors.
- Turn off the fan or air-conditioner if any, to prevent the circulation of mercury vapors in the room.
- Clean up the broken glass with the help of a stiff paper or a cardboard and collect it in a sealable plastic bag.
- You can use damp paper towels or disposable wet wipes to clean it up.
- Do not use a vacuum cleaner. Doing so may spread the powder containing mercury all over the room.
- Avoid leaving any bulb fragments and/or cleanup material intact, collect it all up in a sealable plastic bag.
- Dispose of it in a local recycling center if available or dispose of it with your household trash. (You can find your nearest CFL recycling center at search.earth911.com. If you are living in the United States, you may find a recycling center near you. But, unfortunately, no such services are available in many other countries.)
- Leave the fan or air conditioning off for few hours.
This way, you can dispose of your damaged CFL bulb safely. But, why stick to a CFL bulb when we have a better option for more efficient lighting? You can opt for LED lamps instead of CFLs. Though LEDs are a bit costlier when buying, they are much more energy efficient. See how LEDs are better than CFLs.
You can easily buy a CFL or LED Light bulb at amazon.