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Compact Fluorescent Lightbulb

Low Risk

Also known as:

CFL mercury vapor spiral bulb

Possible Symptoms
  • no symptoms are expected when exposed to the small amount of mercury vapor inside the glass tubing of a CFL bulb.
What to Do
  1. Promptly clean-up the broken bulb in order to minimize exposure. Find instructions here
  2. Call 1-800-222-1222 for additional instructions.


If you have questions about mercury vapors from a broken CFL bulb, or questions about clean-up of a broken CFL bulb, call the Missouri Poison Center right away at 1-800-222-1222.

Additional Information

Fluorescent light bulbs contain a very small amount (4 to 6 mg) of mercury inside a glass tubing. In contrast, a thermometer contains about 500 mg of mercury.  No mercury is released into the environment when the bulb is in use, it is only released when the glass tubing is cracked or broken. If this happens, do not panic.  The first action is to have people and pets leave the room.  Air out the room for 5-10 minutes by opening a window or door to the outside, and shut off the central forced air heating or cooling system if it is in use.

For further detailed instructions, please click on this EPA link:


Tips to prevent broken CFL’s:

  • Allow a CFL bulb to cool before handling
  • Screw or unscrew the CFL by holding the plastic or ceramic base, not the glass tubing.
  • Screw in the CFL until snug, do not over-tighten.
  • Never forcefully twist the glass tubing.

If you have questions about mercury vapors from a broken CFL, or questions about clean-up of a broken CFL, call the Missouri Poison Center right away at 1-800-222-1222.  The poison center is open all day, every day for poisoning emergencies and questions

Take The Missouri Poison Center With You

Emergencies don’t wait for you, so you shouldn’t have to wait to call for help. Get the Missouri Poison Center app with poison information and a link to the Poison Help Line. It is just a click away during the most stressful moments. Our registered nurses and pharmacists are here 24/7/365 days a year to help guide you through poison exposures and overdose emergencies.

Don’t wait. Download now.

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