Fluorescent bulb breakage->CLEANUP

Old 07-15-03, 08:24 PM
green jacket's Avatar
Thread Starter
Join Date: Sep 2000
Location: Williamsport and Blue Bell, Pennsylvania
Posts: 489
Upvotes: 0
Received 0 Upvotes on 0 Posts
Fluorescent bulb breakage->CLEANUP

I changing a light fixture in the laundry room, and had the fluorescent tubes standing up in a safe postion-but one fell over when it got bumped by a piece of wire swinging.

I know that there are all sorts of chemicals in the bulbs including Mercury (Hg). Fortunately they were Philips Alto bulbs (70% less Hg). How much Mercury are in a 4ft T12 tube?
More significantly, what are the proper clean-up precedures for this type of situation? It was on a smooth concrete floor, fortunate me!
I swept the mess into a dustpan, and dicarded it into a sealed bag into the trash dumpster. Then vacuumed the smaller particals, and threw away the vacuum bag when done. Next I got wet paper towels to wipe the floor. (P.T.s did not shred, floor is painted (smooth/glossy).

The whole situation makes me nervous, I have had it happen once before in the basement. I just want other's thoughts on the incident, others can learn from it as well.

Old 07-16-03, 03:47 AM
fewalt's Avatar
Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: sw VA
Posts: 3,022
Upvotes: 0
Received 0 Upvotes on 0 Posts
Sounds like you have cleaned up the broken pieces well - then NO Problem!!

GE Safety Fact Sheet:
"The major hazard from broken fluorescent tubes is the possibility of sustaining glass cuts. Puncture resistant gloves are recommended for cleaning up broken glass. After picking up all large fragments, wipe area thoroughly to clean any remaining glass or phosphor residue. If necessary, ventilate area to remove any remaining fine phosphor dust. After handling broken lamps, wash hands and face thoroughly. Incidental exposure to lamp contents is not harmful. The basic phosphor used in the manufacture of fluorescent lamps is a relatively inert phosphate. The small amount of mercury contained in each lamp will not cause any significant amount of airborne mercury, since most of the elemental mercury remains adhered to the phosphor surface. No adverse health effects are expected from exposure to a broken fluorescent tube. "

Old 07-16-03, 10:01 AM
Join Date: Sep 2000
Location: Fayetteville, NY, USA
Posts: 969
Upvotes: 0
Received 2 Upvotes on 2 Posts
A 4-foot Alto fluorescent lamp contains 4 to 6 mg of mercury. The California standard, TTLC (Total Threshold Limit Concentration) test for mercury is 20 PPM. Phillips literature gives figures for its 190GR T8 lamp showing that 20PPM in this particular model is 3.8 mg. They don't list T-12s in the literature I have. Above this level, in California anyway, a discarded broken bulb is considered hazardous waste.

Still in all, this is an extremely low level, and Phillips Alto is probably the lowest. (G.E. Ecolux bulbs come up at 6 to 8 mg of mercury). Still, Phillips liturature says "Phillips encourages recycling of all fluorescent lamps." I don't know about your area, but in Central NY we have no such recycling program!

Hope that helps.


Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Ask a Question
Question Title:
Your question will be posted in: