How to Safely Clean Up a Broken Fluorescent Light Bulb


cmi lighting fluorescent light bulb

Fluorescent tubes use mercury dust to operate, and it can be harmful to your health to inhale this dust.

Safety in a workplace is of paramount importance. And anyone who has ever dealt with broken glass before knows just how dangerous it can be. But if you’re dealing with a broken light bulb, specifically a fluorescent one, you have a lot more to worry about. Fluorescent tubes use mercury dust to operate, and it can be harmful to your health to inhale this dust. With some knowledge, however, you can ensure that you clean up the mess left by a broken fluorescent light bulb thoroughly and safely. Here’s what you should do.

Ventilate the Area

Once you’ve had a report of a fluorescent bulb breaking at your facility, the first thing to do is to ventilate the area. Turn off your central air system to prevent the mercury dust and vapors from spreading around the building and open windows in the room. Cover your face with protective equipment, or a cloth mask/bandanna, and close the door to whatever room is affected by the accident. You’ll want to let this area ventilate for at least ten minutes so the dust can settle onto the floor.

Carefully Clean the Area

Once the area has settled, it’s time to start cleaning the mess. Do not use a broom or vacuum for this – you might spread the mercury contamination even more by doing so. Instead, put on some rubber or latex gloves and carefully scoop up the larger pieces of glass with a piece of cardboard. Use duct tape to pick up smaller pieces of glass and any powder in the region. Place all of the debris from the broken fluorescent light bulb into a glass jar or a double-layered plastic bag. Then, wipe down the area with a damp paper towel and place this in with the rest of the debris, then seal. Wash your hands well afterwards.

Proper Disposal of a Fluorescent light Bulb

Once cleaned up, you’ll need to dispose of the broken bulb in a proper and safe manner. Many municipalities have special instructions for businesses to follow on how to dispose of nonoperational fluorescents, so check with your local government for specific instructions.

Consider Switching to LED

LED lighting is a great way to eliminate the hassle that comes with maintaining fluorescent lighting systems. Not only do they consume much less energy, they are also very reliable and do not break easily – and when they do break, they are much safer to clean up and dispose of. Call and ask your professional electricians – like the ones at CMI Lighting – how upgrading to LED lighting can work for your business!


With over 35 years in the industry, CMI has an array of equipment to handle the logistics of any in-house job. We also frequently provide solutions to property managers and upcoming developments. CMI Companies provides services in Mid-Atlantic Region and proudly serves clients in Northern Virginia, Maryland, Richmond, Southern Virginia, Manassas, Prince William County, Fairfax County, Rockville, and Prince George’s County. Also, check us out on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

This entry was posted on Friday, June 17th, 2022 at 11:29 am. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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