What to Do If a Bulb Breaks

Print

What to Do If a Bulb Breaks

Using compact fluorescent light bulbs to light your home or business is an easy and popular method to reduce energy costs and greenhouse gas emissions. However, CFLs contain a small amount of mercury, and if one should break, it is important to know what to do.

Actions to Avoid with Broken CFLs

Never use a vacuum cleaner to clean up mercury. The vacuum will put mercury into the air and increase exposure. (To vacuum bulb fragments from a carpet or rug, see the “Carpeting or Rug” section below.)

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, because mercury may contaminate the machine and/or pollute sewage. Clothing that has come into direct contact with mercury should be discarded. You can wash clothing or other materials that are exposed to the mercury vapor from a broken CFL, such as the clothing you wore when cleaning up the broken CFL, as long as there was no direct contact with the materials from the broken bulb.

Clean-up of Broken CFLs

Before Clean-up: Ventilate the Room

  • Have people and pets leave the room, and do not let anyone walk through the breakage area.
  • Open a window and leave the room for 15 minutes or more.
  • Ensure the central heating/cooling system and fans are shut off.

Hard Surfaces

  • Carefully scoop up glass pieces and powder using stiff paper or cardboard and place them in a glass jar with a 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 clean with damp paper towels or disposable wet wipes. Place towels in the glass jar or plastic bag.
  • Do not use a vacuum or broom to clean up the broken bulb on hard surfaces.

Carpeting or Rug

  • Carefully pick up glass fragments and place them in a glass jar with a 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.
  • 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), and put the bag or vacuum debris in a sealed plastic bag.
  • If shoes come into direct contact with broken glass or mercury-containing powder from the bulb, wipe them off with damp paper towels or disposable wet wipes. Place the towels or wipes in a glass jar or plastic bag for disposal.

Proper Disposal of CFLs

When disposing of CFLs, please be sure to take them to household hazardous waste facilities that responsibly collect and dispose of these and other household hazardous waste materials. Below is a list of drop-off centers in and near IID’s service area that will accept these items. Some locations may require identification and/or a small fee.

Imperial Valley

Imperial Valley Resource Management Agency, Brawley
180 S. Western Avenue, Brawley
Open: Every other Sunday, 8 a.m. to 12 noon, except holidays
Phone: 1-877-RECYCLE or 1-877-732-9253
ivrma.org

Imperial Valley Resource Management Agency, Calexico
500 West Fifth Street, Brawley
Open: Every other Sunday, 8 a.m. to 12 p.m., except holidays
Phone: 1-877-RECYCLE or 1-877-732-9253
ivrma.org

Imperial Valley Resource Management Agency, El Centro
702 E. Heil Avenue, El Centro
Open: Saturdays, 8 a.m. to noon
Phone: 1-877-RECYCLE or 1-877-732-9253
www.ivrma.org

Coachella Valley

Palm Springs Permanent Household Waste Collection Facility
1100 Vella Road, Palm Springs
Open: October – May, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
June – September 7 a.m. to noon

Temporary Household Waste Facilities
Open: 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
See below for dates and locations.

Coachella – 3/10/18 and 9/29/18
Bagdouma Park Swim Center parking lot
84-625 Bagdad Avenue

Indio – 5/12/18 and 12/8/18
Date Festival Fairgrounds
46-350 Arabia Street

La Quinta – 2/24/18 and 11/17/18
South City Hall parking lot
78-495 Calle Tampico

Mecca – 4/14/18 and 10/13/18
Sheriff’s Substation
91-260 Avenue 66

Burrtec Drop-off Site
41-800 Corporate Way, Palm Desert
Open: Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Phone: (760) 340-2113

For more information about compact fluorescent light bulbs, please contact IID’s Energy Management and Strategic Marketing Office at 1-800-303-7756 or (760) 482-3505.