CFL nay-sayers warn that the energy-efficient light bulbs contain mercury and can be both a health hazard and an overbearing expense to clean up if they break. And while it's true that CFLs contain small amounts of mercury, clean-up is easier than you might think.
The EPA recently issued new guidelines
for cleaning up broken CFLs and other fluorescent bulbs. They're simple and easy to follow, and they should be followed, because there could be health dangers if you wait, if you rush in, or if you don't clean up the broken bulb at all.
The first step is to clear the room of all people and pets for ten minutes. A broken CFL bulb will release a small amount of mercury vapor which will settle down in just a few minutes. Until then, you don't want to breathe it in.
Clean-up requires just four components: stiff paper or cardboard, sticky tape (duct tape or something similar), damp paper towels or disposable wet wipes, and either a glass jar with a metal lid or a sealable plastic bag.
Use the paper or cardboard to sweep up the broken bulb, the tape to pick up any tiny bits, the jar or bag to store the broken bits, and the paper towel to wipe down the surface. Wash your hands, let the room air out and you're done.
You'll need to check to find out your state's rules about disposing of the broken bulb, but there are usually more collection sites around you than you might think. Check Earth 911
for a full list.
There you go, you're done!
Check out the EPA's site for more detailed instructions and recommendations, and don't fear the CFL. The savings are more than worth any potential hazard or hassle.