Is a broken CFL bulb dangerous?

Recently, a customer who had purchased several CFL bulbs, called to ask this question. The first thing I asked was how many bulbs were broken and if the shattered glass was dispersed. In his case about 2-3 were broken and the shattered glass was contained. This is harmless. His biggest concern was the mercury that might have contaminated his apartment. This really isn’t an issue since CFLs contain such a small trace amount of mercury. Effective April 15, 2007, participating members of National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) agreed to voluntarily cap the total mercury content in CFLs at less than 25 watts at 5 milligrams (mg) per unit. CFLs that use 25 to 40 watts of electricity will have total mercury content capped at 6 mg per unit.

However, if mercury amounts still are a concern, consider low mercury CFL bulbs. Take for example CFL bulbs from Earthmate, they contain on average 1 mg of mercury per bulb.

One thought on “Is a broken CFL bulb dangerous?

  1. Matt Hoots says:

    Regardless of the mercury content the bulbs should be recycled. Most big box store now take them now. Just call them in advance to see if they do. Also, while you are disposing of the CFL properly, ask them if they take batteries as well. Most batteries contain trace amounts of heave metals and should be disposed of in an responsible was as well.

    Matt Hoots (Matt’s blog)

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