Broken energy-efficient light bulbs


What to do…

As of September 2012 EU countries banned production of incandescent light bulbs with filament wires. They were replaced by CFLs (compact fluorescent lamps) and more recent LEDs (light emitting diodes). The reason for phasing out traditional bulbs is that they are significantly more energy-efficient and also stronger illumination by CFL and LED bulbs when compared to incandescent bulbs.

Advantages of energy-efficient bulbs over incandescent bulbs are disputed by experts. The cheapest among energy-efficient bulbs are CFLs which contain mercury. Some experts claim that the amount of mercury is insignificant and it cannot leak out of a bulb, unless it is broken. According to the 2013 EU regulations mercury amount is limited to 2.5mg per bulb, and even bulbs with under 1mg of mercury are being produced.
Apart from mercury other poisonous and cancerogen substances, including phenol, styrene and naphthalene, are often mentioned in such disputes, along with unfavourable effects of energy-efficient light to human health.
Time and future studies will show if these warnings result from real threats or if they are merely a clash of various interest groups and politics.

What to do when you break an energy-efficient bulb?
In case an energy-efficient bulb is broken the room should be vacated at once, by both people and animals. Air it well for about 10 minutes and then remove carefully the broken pieces (do not use a vacuum-cleaner!) and put them into a plastic bag or a glass container with a metal lid that you can seal safely. Wearing gloves when removing the debris is a must and avoid any contact of the debris with the skin.

Tiny pieces of glass and dust should be removed using a duct tape, which then also has to be disposed of in the same way as the bulb itself (in a plastic bag or a glass container). The surface where the bulb broke must be wiped clean with a wet cloth or paper towel. They must be disposed of in the previously explained manner. Everything must be taken out and left in a garbage bin. Wash your hands thoroughly. Leave the room to air for at least another 15 minutes.

If there is an air-conditioning device in the room, turn it off immediately.
If a bulb is broken on the carpet, the procedure is the same, except you need to vacuum-clean the carpet. The bag should be disposed of immediately after the vacuuming by placing it into a plastic bag and taking it out to the garbage bin. Any objects used during the cleaning process must be disposed of in the same manner. If pieces of a broken bulb fell onto your garments, they must be washed thoroughly or thrown away.

“Bulbs Collection”- Image courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti /

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