Curious About CFL Light Bulb Cleanup

By Ken Tucci, WBZ-TV
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(Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

(Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

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While I was vacationing in Florida, I saw a news report regarding the new fluorescent lights that will be replacing the incandescent bulbs.  According to the report, these new bulbs contain mercury, but if they break we’re simply to sweep up the remains and deposit them in the trash.  Isn’t this dangerous?  We’ve all seen the commercial “Don’t put mercury in the trash” regarding old batteries. - Mike, Milford

Thank goodness Mike didn’t see that report here on WBZ-TV, because that would be…wrong!

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You should never use a broom or a vacuum to clean up a broken CFL (those squiggly light bulbs) because  you could spread the mercury around.  Mercury is a neurotoxin…very bad.

In fact the first thing you should do is open a window and get out of the room for about 15 mins. and let it air out.  After that, wear disposable gloves and scoop up the fragments using stiff paper or cardboard.  Then use duct tape to pick up anything left, and do a final cleanup with a damp paper towel.  Put all that stuff into a glass jar or a plastic bag and then you can put it in the trash.  I know, I know, it doesn’t seem to make sense that you go through all that just to throw it in the trash…but that’s what the Mass. Dept. of Environmental Protection says you should do.

It’s even more complicated if the fragments land on a carpet.

So…here are 2 websites with even more detailed explanations of what to do:

Mass. DEP and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

It’s enough to make you use candles.

What do you think of the squiggly bulbs?

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