Q. Is it true that compact fluorescent bulbs contain mercury? If so, how much? And what should I do if one breaks?
A. A compact fluorescent bulb (CFL) has a trace amount of mercury; about 4 milligrams, which is one-fifth the amount in a watch battery. The only time the mercury can escape is if the bulb breaks. If that happens, take the same care as you would with a broken mercury thermometer. Dont vacuum it. Wear disposable gloves and pick up pieces with tweezers youre willing to toss. Put it all in a puncture-resistant, closeable container. You cant put CFLs (broken or not) in your regular trash, according to Vermont law. Some hardware stores offer free disposal of CFLs. If your store doesnt offer this service, your local solid waste district (phone numbers are available at mercvt.org) can tell you where you can dispose of CFLs.
Rachael is a business development specialist at Efficiency Vermont. To find more energy saving tips or to submit a new question about energy use in your home or business, visit www.efficiencyvermont.com/askrachael or call, toll-free: 1-888-921-5990 to speak with a customer service representative.