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Cleaning Up a Broken Compact Fluorescent Light Bulb (CFLs)

Responsibly Recycle Your Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs (CFLs) 

CFLs are not collected curbside.  Drop off at: 

Municipal Locations

  • Markham Recycling Depot, 6041 Hwy 7 East
  • Unionville Recycling Depot, 137A Main St. Unionville
  • Thornhill Recycling Depot, 5 Green Lane
  • Milliken Mills Recycling Depot, 7660 Kenndey Rd.
  • York Region  Household Hazardous Waste Depot, 300 Rodick Road

Retailers

  • RONA (see website for locations)
  • Canadian Tire (see website for locations)
  • IKEA (see website for locations)
  • Lowes (see website for locations)

Cleaning Up a Broken Compact Fluorescent Light Bulb (CFLs)

Why is it important to clean up a broken CFL properly?

CFLs and other fluorescent light bulbs contain a small amount of mercury sealed within the glass tubing. When a fluorescent bulb breaks in your home, some of this mercury is released as mercury vapour. To minimize exposure to mercury vapor,  follow the recommendations on this page. 

If a bulb breaks or comes apart:

  • Have all people and pets leave the room.
  • Air out the room for 5-10 minutes by opening a window or door to the outdoor environment. 
  • Shut off the central forced air heating/air-conditioning system, if you have one.
  • Collect materials needed to clean up broken bulb:
    • stiff paper or cardboard;
    • sticky tape;
    • damp paper towels or disposable wet wipes (for hard surfaces); and
    • a glass jar with a metal lid or a sealable plastic bag.

During Cleanup

  • Do not vacuum.  Vacuuming could spread mercury-containing powder or mercury vapor.  If needed, after most clean up has been completed, use vacuum to clean up broken glass remains.
  • Be thorough in collecting broken glass and visible powder.  Scoop up glass fragments and powder using stiff paper or cardboard.  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. 
  • Place cleanup materials in a sealable container.

After Cleanup

  • Promptly place all bulb debris and cleanup materials, including vacuum cleaner bags, outdoors in a protected area until materials can be properly disposed of.  Avoid leaving any bulb fragments or cleanup materials indoors. 
  • If practical, continue to air out the room where the bulb was broken and leave the heating/air conditioning system shut off for several hours.
  • Take material to one of the following locations:

Other Types of Light Bulbs that Contain Mercury

Fluorescent bulbs:
  • Linear, U-tube and circline fluorescent tubes
  • Bug zappers
  • Tanning bulbs
  • Black lights
  • Germicidal bulbs
  • High output bulbs, and
  • Cold-cathode fluorescent bulbs.
High intensity discharge bulbs:
  • Metal halide
  • Ceramic metal halide
  • High pressure sodium, and mercury vapor.
Mercury short-arc bulbs; and Neon bulbs