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Ontario Poison Centre

CFL bulbs (inhalation from broken bulb)

CFL bulbs


Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFL) use mercury, which can be highly toxic when the heated vapour is inhaled. However, the risk of inhalation is small at room temperature. In addition, the amount of mercury in these bulbs is very small and a broken bulb poses a very low risk to your health, unless mishandled or carelessly stored.

Poisoning Risk

None/low with appropriate clean-up measures.

Expected Symptoms

  • Mild/moderate mercury poisoning (not expected from this exposure): cough, shortness of breath, lethargy, headache, tremors, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea.

Home Treatment

  • Leave room and ventilate area for at least 15 minutes.
  • Do not use a vacuum or broom.
  • Wear disposable gloves if available.
  • Scoop up the broken pieces and debris with two pieces of stiff paper or cardboard.
  • Use a sticky tape to pick up any remaining fine glass or powder.
  • Wipe the area with a damp paper towel.
  • Place broken glass and cleanup materials in a glass container with a tight-fitting lid, and take to local hazardous waste depot.
  • If you have questions, call the Poison Centre.

*Note: For carpeted surfaces, visit Health Canada website for more information:


  • Every case is different. OPC is available 24hrs/day to provide information for your individual situation. Call 1-800-268-9017 (Toll-free) or 416-813-5900 (Local).



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