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How to clean up a broken CFL light bulb: Smart Home

About Video Transcript

Smart Home: How to clean up a broken CFL light bulb

2:42 /

Cleaning up after these mercury-filled bulbs is a hassle, but here's how to do it safely.

[MUSIC] Woops you just broke a CFL light bulb in your kitchen and now that mercury trapped inside is exposed into your home. How do you safely clean that up an how do you get rid a that broken bulb? I'm CNet's Ry Chris don't worry I'm gonna show you how. [MUSIC] Right away after breaking that bulb the first thing you're gonna want to do is to air out that part of your home. That means opening up the windows, closing doors off to other parts of the home, getting pets out of there, all of that. And then just taking about 15 minutes to let things air out. You'll also want to be sure you turn off your central air conditioning. You don't want that system pulling the Mercury up into your house and distributing it everywhere. That's just not good. After the room has been airing out for 15 minutes, it's safe to go back in and clean the mess up. Now keep in mind the amount of mercury in a CFL bulb is only about 1 percent what you'll find in a thermometer. So it's not that much of a safety hazard. Still you want to be careful. You want to take it seriously. If you have a mask, it might be a good idea to wear one. I'd probably wear one if I had one. Now keep in mind as you're cleaning up, that everything that touches that broken mess is going to be contaminated with the mercury, so you don't want to use a broom. You don't want to use your vacuum cleaner, because like the AC system, that's going to kick the particles up into the air. What you want to do is scoop that mess up with a piece of paper or a piece of cardboard. And get it into a sealable container. A glass jar with a metal lid is your best bet. But if you don't have that, you can use Tupperware, you can use a plastic bag. Less ideal, but no work. You also want to make sure you throw that piece of paper or cardboard away in that container. You wanna seal all that contaminated stuff up together. After you've gotten the big chunks up, you can use a piece of duct tape just to get the rest of the powder and the glass up. And like the piece of paper, make sure you through that used tape into your contaminated bag. Once you've got mostly everything up, the final step to cleaning it is to take a damp paper towel or a wet wipe and just go over the area. Just make sure it's nice and clean looking, that you've got every particle that you can see up and under your towel, and into that bag. Congratulations, you have cleaned up that broken bulb and gotten it into a sealed container and at this point, you're going to want to wash your hands, but you've got this sealed container now, filled with mercury contaminated glass, water and tape, what do you do with that? Well, you can take it to a recycling center in your town and they'll probably take it off your hands at the appropriate place. Here in Louisville, we can only recycle a broken bulb on Wednesdays and Saturdays, which isn't terribly convenient if you break a bulb on a Sunday. So there you have it. Next time you break a CFL in your home, you'll know how to clean it up safely and how to get rid of those broke pieces responsibility. If that sounds like too much work, I'd recommend replacing that CFL with a bulb that doesn't have mercury, like an LED. For CNET, I'm Ry Crist. [MUSIC]

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