B&Q Online: From Kitchens & Bathrooms to Sheds & Paving; plus planning tools

Information on Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFL's)

Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFL's)

Lightbulb data Opens PDF in new window

Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs) are made of glass and can break if dropped or roughly handled. Take care when removing the bulb from its packaging and when installing or replacing the bulb. Always handle the light bulb by its base (NOT the glass) and never forcefully twist the CFL into the light socket or lampholder.

What to do if a CFL breaks

Fluorescent light bulbs contain a very small amount of mercury sealed within the glass tubing. Although accidental breakage of a bulb is unlikely to cause any health problems, it's good practice to minimise any unnecessary exposure to mercury, as well as risk of cuts from glass fragments. We recommend the following clean-up procedure below.

Before Clean-up: Ventilate the Room

  • Vacate the room of people and pets and don't let anyone walk through the breakage area on their way out
  • Open a window and leave the room for 15 minutes or more
  • Shut off the central heating or air conditioning system

Clean-Up Steps for Hard Surfaces

  • Carefully scoop up glass pieces and powder using stiff paper or cardboard and place them in a glass jar with metal lid or in a sealed plastic bag
  • Use sticky tape, such as duct tape, to pick up any remaining small glass fragments and powder
  • Wipe the area clean with damp paper towels or disposable wet wipes. Place towels in the glass jar or plastic bag
  • Do not use a vacuum or broom to clean up the broken bulb on hard surfaces

Clean-up Steps for Carpeting or Rugs

  • Carefully pick up glass fragments and place them in a glass jar with metal lid or in a sealed plastic bag
  • Use sticky tape, such as duct tape, to pick up any remaining small glass fragments and powder
  • If vacuuming is needed after all visible materials are removed, vacuum the area where the bulb was broken
  • Remove the vacuum bag (or empty and wipe the canister), and put the bag or vacuum debris in a sealed plastic bag

Clean-up Steps for Clothing, Bedding and Other Soft Materials

  • If clothing or bedding materials come in direct contact with broken glass or mercury-containing powder from inside the bulb that may stick to the fabric, the clothing or bedding should be thrown away. Do not wash such clothing or bedding because mercury fragments in the clothing may contaminate the machine and/or pollute sewage
  • You can, however, wash clothing or other materials that have been exposed to the mercury vapor from a broken CFL, such as the clothing you are wearing when you cleaned up the broken CFL, as long as that clothing has not come into direct contact with the materials from the broken bulb
  • If shoes come into direct contact with broken glass or mercury-containing powder from the bulb, wipe them off with damp paper towels or disposable wet wipes. Place the towels or wipes in a glass jar or plastic bag for disposal

Disposal of Clean-up Materials

  • The bag or glass jar should NOT be disposed of in your household waste. All local councils have an obligation to make arrangements for the disposal of this category of waste at civic amenity site or household waste recycling centre. See www.recycle-more.co.uk to search for your local facility for the disposal of CFL bulbs. Alternatively contact your local council direct
  • Wash your hands after disposing of the jars or plastic bags containing clean-up materials

back to top

Disposal of CFLs at the end of their life

CFLs are subject to the requirements of the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) regulations. All broken or used CFLs should be taken to designated collection facilities at local authority civic amenity sites, where they will be removed for treatment and recycling.

See www.recycle-more.co.uk Opens link in new window to search for your nearest recycling facility for the disposal of CFL bulbs.

back to top

Additional information

Further information can be found at the following websites

back to top

The change to Lumens

Up to now the brightness of an incandescent light bulb has always been expressed in Watts (e.g. 40W, 60W, 100W etc) which is the electrical unit of power. This is misleading as it really only indicates the amount of power required to light the bulb. The correct measure for the perceived light output is luminous flux and this is measured in Lumens. A conventional incandescent bulb and a CFL light bulb may put out the same number of lumens, but the conventional bulb will consume three to five times the number of watts needed by the compact fluorescent.

The table below shows the approximate relationship between the different bulb types in Watts and Lumens.

From 1st Sept 2010 all CFL bulbs placed on the market must specify Lumen output on the packaging and include the equivalent incandescent bulb power in Watts. Most equivalent Wattages will fall between the values shown below. For example, a 1200 lumen output bulb will need to show an equivalent wattage of 88W, a 909 lumen output bulb will need show an equivalent wattage of 71W.

Incandescent Bulb (W)

Approx CFL Equivalent(W)

Rated luminous flux (Lumen)*

25W

5W - 7W

229 Lumen

40W

7W - 9W

432 Lumen

60W

11W

741 Lumen

75W

15W

970 Lumen

100W

20W

1398 Lumen

*Values quoted are for guidance only and are the minimum CFL lumens required to claim equivalence between CFL and incandescent lamps (Ref Table 5 EST Lamp Specification v7 2010).

back to top