Chances are you or someone you know uses CFL (Compact Fluorescent Light) bulbs in their home, office, etc. These bulbs, while being more environmentally friendly and longer lasting, pose some danger if broken. The danger stems primarily from the mercury that is in the bulbs because it is toxic in large quantities.

The EPA has a detailed set of guidelines to be followed if you have a broken bulb that needs cleaned up. These detailed steps can be found here.

To begin you clear people and animals out of the room where the broken bulb is located and turn off any central air system. Take about 5-10 minutes to let the room air out. This is a good time to gather the supplies you will need for the clean up. You will need:

– Stiff paper or cardboard

– Sticky tape

– Damp paper towels or disposable wet wipes

– A glass jar with a metal lid or a sealable plastic bag

The basic clean up steps (as taken from the EPA website) are as follows:

1. Carefully scoop up glass fragments and powder using stiff paper or cardboard and place debris and paper/cardboard in a glass jar with a metal lid. If a glass jar is not available, use a sealable plastic bag. (NOTE: Since a plastic bag will not prevent the mercury vapor from escaping, remove the plastic bag(s) from the home after cleanup.)

2. Use sticky tape, such as duct tape, to pick up any remaining small glass fragments and powder. Place the used tape in the glass jar or plastic bag.

3. Wipe the area clean with damp paper towels or disposable wet wipes. Place the towels in the glass jar or plastic bag.

It is not recommended that you use a vacuum unless you are certain that all the glass debris is gone.

After you seal the jar or bag you should remove it from your house. Then check about local ordinances concerning the proper disposal of mercury containing wastes. And remember, while this is a good method for cleaning up an accident the best practice is proper disposal before.