What do I do with residential-use lights that have broken accidently?

Place the broken item in a sealed plastic bag or a sealed glass container.  Once it is contained, the light bulb or tube can be taken to a nearby LightRecycle depot that accepts residential light bulbs for free recycling. For the location nearest you, contact the RCBC Recycling Hotline, or visit the RCBC Recyclepedia or Product Care Recycling website.

For clean-up instructions, especially for fluorescent light bulbs and tubes that contain mercury, Health Canada recommends the following cleanup procedures:

  • Ventilate the room for at least 15 minutes before you start clean up, removing people and pets from the room.
  • Wear disposable gloves if possible to avoid direct contact with mercury and to prevent cuts.
  • Sweep or wipe up the glass fragments and powder using two pieces of stiff paper or cardboard.
  • Use sticky tape to pick up fine glass and powder and then wipe the area with a damp paper towel to pick up any residue.
  • If the bulb breaks on a rug or carpet, use sticky tape (such as duct tape) to pick up small pieces and powder. Vacuuming should be avoided as it spreads mercury through the air.  If vacuuming is necessary, remove the vacuum bag or empty and wipe the canister with paper towel after the area is cleaned.
  • Place the broken glass and clean-up materials in a glass container with a tight fitting lid or two sealed plastic bags to further minimize the release of mercury vapour. 
  • Bring the sealed glass container or sealed plastic bags to a collection site.

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